The curtain comes down on the tenure of two towering personalities in the financial services sector — Deepak Parekh who retired on June 30 and Uday Kotak who will be doing so on December 31. Industry watchers will be keenly observing what their roles will be in the coming years and how the transition is going to impact their respective institutions.
Deepak Parekh built from scratch financial service conglomerate HDFC. The merged HDFC Bank, at $175 billion, is one of the most valuable banks in the world. Uday Kotak has done likewise, at $45 billion, his bank is the third largest in the private sector in India.
Parekh has clearly stated that he is hanging up his boots and the baton has been passed on post the merger of HDFC and HDFC Bank. Kotak, on the other hand, has said he will be playing the role of a non-executive director on the board.
In this role, Kotak will still have an important role to play albeit without the demands of indulging in heavy lifting. After all, he owns 26 per cent of the bank and his skin is very much in the game.
Uday Kotak has still years of potentially active professional role ahead of him. As someone who started the bank and brought it to this level, can he switch off when agenda items stare at his face in board meetings? Can he exercise restraint and say unless a question is specifically put to me I will not give a point of view?
HDFC insiders unequivocally state that Deepak Parekh is an institution and not a mere individual. He would have participated actively in numerous board meetings in the last four decades and his absence will not only be felt but also difficult to replace.
He recast the entire financial services framework and was the go-to man for policymakers wherever trouble shooting was required. A large section of the middle class who own houses today owe it to the vision of Deepak Parekh.
Uday Kotak was an entrepreneur ahead of his times. Without batting an eyelid he converted his entity from an NBFC to a bank in 2003, when all financial pundits felt it was not appropriate. After going through initial years of pain, the results are now clearly visible. After all, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Kotak has been credited with building an excellent and loyal team around him. He is also a go-to man for any policy-making inputs.
One common trait of both Parekh and Kotak is they have zero tolerance for non-compliance. Also, they place highest premium on good governance. With all the buzz around seamless succession planning, there are cases of outstanding individuals who cannot be effectively replaced — these men probably fall in this category.
Effective handing over
How does one harness the accumulated knowledge, wisdom and experience of these two gentlemen and pass them on to the next generation?
We can have seminars and workshops on succession planning and case studies with simulations, but they are no match to getting first-hand accounts from the two who would have seen it all over the years. Institutions like IIMs should get maximum insights from them as quickly as possible. Strike when the iron is hot.
Data, information and artificial intelligence are used effectively in various aspects of decision-making today. How to capture incidents and experiences, which form the basis of lending decisions? Knowledge sharing is best done if individuals like Deepak Parekh and Uday Kotak capture their experiences in a book. This will be of immense value to their successors.
The writer is a chartered accountant