Naina Lal Kidwai's strategy for HSBC
As the Group Manager and Country Head of HSBC India, Naina Lal Kidwai needs no introduction in the world of banking and business. An alumni member of Harvard Business School, Padma Shri recipient and the first female president of FICCI, Kidwai’s acumen and contribution in diverse business fields are well known and appreciated. Currently leading a 34-member delegation of CEO’s from FICCI to the UK, Kidwai is facilitating the “Engage UK” strategy which endeavours to maintain consistent communication with, and promote business synergies between both countries. Her strategies for HSBC are similar to those adopted during her 31 years of banking experience [her first banking job was with ANZ Grindlays Bank in 1982]. She adopts conservative lending strategies and relies on accurate MI [Management Information] and efficient risk management processes. According to Kidwai, adopting conservative lending strategies and steering clear of aggressive lending strategies, spares it from acquiring NPA’s [non-performing assets or loans that are in jeopardy of default], which in turn, avoid massive write downs and ensure stability of the bank. HSBC therefore enjoys the full benefit of growth sectors such as airlines and power, and relies on its IT expertise and analysis which dictates as to whether it will move out of a sector entirely or move out. Kidwai states that a sound analysis is what has kept the bank’s lending book on safe, minimally-risky ground. A large part of her current strategy is to look at the rapid shift towards a more technologically advanced platform which is now being accepted by the public banking sector and allows it to be well-connected. She recalls one of HSBC’s first technological offerings to the country as being the ATM machine, and is geared towards advancing technology-based services more efficiently. Looking at the increased preference for mobile banking and internet banking services, it is clear that HSBC will quickly adapt and advance its existing services to cater to an increasing consumer base of smart phone and tablet users who will expect to be able to access a greater variety of banking solutions on their devices and avoid time-wasting trips to the bank. Customer engagement and “listening to what the customer has to say” is important to Kidwai, and she chooses to bring forward their needs and concerns. Creating a customer-friendly technology initiative which factors in customer requirements with IT criteria ensures that the customer is happy and that the IT-related processes are fulfilled. Known as a “trailblazing dealmaker”, Kidwai is responsible for HSBC India’s enjoyment of healthy profit margins. Her prior experience with arranging funding for InfoTech companies, managing IPO’s for companies like Bharti tele-ventures and Maruti Udyog and role as one of the key forces behind the Morgan Stanley-JM Financial joint venture [whose subsequent turnaround made it one of the top banks in India] have resulted in a resume which is rich with experience and diversity. As an individual, she is known for being opinionated but always open to ideas and inputs, and encourages employees to be forthcoming with their perspectives. All the aforementioned qualities, combined with her constant strive for attaining excellence, makes Naina Lal Kidwai one of the most admired strategists of the banking sector.