Tag Archives: Iblogs

Here’s what IndusInd Bank’s new CMO Anil Ramachandran’s game plan is

To be the CMO of a challenger brand in a regulated category like banking, is quite a tall order. Anil Ramachandran, the recently anointed IndusInd Bank marketing head, is a chartered accountant by profession with a self-confessed bias towards marketing. He has been with IndusInd Bank since 2010 and is also EVP and head – retail unsecured assets. Previously he has had stints at Citibank N.A, Standard Chartered Bank and Deutsche Bank.

From an impaired bank that was just about breaking even 10 years back to a profitable and buzzing brand, the bank has indeed come a long way, backed by a host of product and marketing-led innovations. A case in point being the branding of the Gurgaon Rapid Metro’s Cybercity station as IndusInd Bank Cybercity that the bank undertook in 2014. It was one of the first brands in the BFSI segment to not just own a branded metro station but even open a full service branch on location. There has been some buzz on the bank also evaluating the Mumbai Metro station branding opportunity, though Ramachandran offered no official comment on this. All he says is that, “In a highly commoditised space, we find innovation, package it in a context and roll it out.” Which could be in the shape of the above mentioned branding innovations or product-centric innovations like ‘Fingerprint Banking’, ‘My Account My Number’ and ‘check-on-check’.

Ramachandran is very clear that while bigger players can afford to play an emotional catchment route in their communication, banks like his can’t, being a lot smaller. For us all communication has to have a call to action strategy even as we continuously attract new customers and tell them why they should bank with us, he says.

Excerpts from an interview

As the newly appointed CMO at the bank, what is your core mandate?

To continue to grow the brand on its core value of responsive innovation. “Aapne chaha, hamne kiya” has been a key differentiator for us in terms of brand positioning and values. While we build out the brand and what it stands for as a trusted, innovative and responsible bank; we will remain focused on how technologies, processes and data can be used synergistically towards making our customers lives simpler and more convenient. A judicious use of media with an increasing focus on digital and social will be key to our communication strategy. We shall also look at leveraging new and innovative outdoor platforms in creating brand resonance and surround.

In a cluttered category like banking, what can a bank brand do to find relevance and preference among customers?

As you have said, banking is both a cluttered category as well as a much commoditised one. Banking is sometimes viewed as a space which leaves very little for marketers. We have always taken the route of differentiating ourselves as innovators with a stated goal of making banking easy and convenient for customers, driven by customer-centric innovations. These elements position us differently from the market.

What is the role of advertising in this journey?

As we innovate and bring new banking paradigms to our consumers, it is critical that we communicate the ways and means of doing day to day banking in a more simplified and convenient manner. The key will be to ensure that we keep listening, understanding customer needs and keeping the feedback channels open. Solutions develop only if you have a two-way channel.

IndusInd Bank over the years has been known to do very product-centric advertising as against campaigns that build a warm and fuzzy feeling for the brand, something being done by many other players in the BFSI space. Would that change?

Our focus so far has been on communicating products that provide simplification and bring convenience to people’s lives. We shall work on developing other core facets of our brand as the journey continues.

We have, for example, been providing support to some of India’s leading para-athletes through our association with Go Sports. The hard work, training and grit that is put in and demonstrated by them is no less than any other able-bodied athletes. Yet, so little attention has been paid to their victories! We hope to bring about a change in this and create a platform that will bring focus and recognition to these heroes. Our next communication would be across a multi-media framework, shall focus on celebrating the heroic performances of our para-champions in the past, and to create a movement and a platform for all of us to cheer and salute their upcoming sporting performances.

Planning a holiday? Reach for your credit card! How plastic money is making vacations more fun.

With the April-May holidays here, families across India are getting ready for the great summer getaway. Parents with kids, bored after the closure of schools, look forward to the day when they set out for the airport, for their next big adventure! Young people start thronging airports seeking to explore new destinations, while nuclear families plan large get-togethers in cooler climes. The energy of summer is palpable!

The underlying reality is that a significant amount of money will be spent in planning and putting together a memorable holiday. Travelling and holidays, though always pleasurable, are not always inexpensive!

There is, however, a great way to plan ahead and maximise the value that you can get out of the money you will spend on a holiday. This can be done by a simple piece of plastic that should be in your wallet: the credit card!

As a starting point it is critical to select a credit card which suits your lifestyle. If you have a travel bug in you, there is no better way to build your free holidays and getaways with a card which will Reward you with rich features and benefits pertaining to travel (including potentially free air tickets!), while addressing your other travel needs.

Credit Cards with strong travel/flight benefits typically come in airline co-branded credit cards such as the Jet Airways IndusInd Bank Credit Card, which provide cardmembers with a great option to earn JPMiles even when they are not flying. All day-to-day spends, both discretionary and non-discretionary, can be done on the card and valuable JPMiles can be earned. These Miles can be accumulated throughout the year and then the Miles could be redeemed for free flight tickets on Jet Airways for the holidays. The truly savvy traveller, therefore, would try to maximise miles earnings by moving as much of his or her monthly expenses, as is possible, onto the miles-earning credit card. In addition, the card also provides Bonus Miles at the time of enrolment, which can go a long way towards a free air ticket.

Affiliations of such strong Frequent Flyer programmes with hotel chains, coupled with the card issuing company’s own range of offers from leading hotels across price brands, can ensure that the best deals are also got while making hotel bookings. There are other credit cards, such as the IndusInd Bank WorldMiles Credit Card, which also provide great options for free flights and more without direct partnership with any particular airline.

In addition, many premium credit cards also provide great airport lounge access facilities ensuring that the long waits at airports are done in the peaceful confines of a well-provided and exclusive lounge. Tie-ups with car rental companies, hotel chains, priority check-in at airports and other important features, such as free extra baggage etc., is what aspiring credit card applicants should look for while selecting a credit card. These come with strong discounts and should be availed of to make that rupee go further.

Most sophisticated card issuers also enable cardmembers to convert their existing Rewards points in the issuers own Rewards programmes into Miles in leading Frequent Flyer programmes such as the Jet Privilege programme. This is also a strong repository of potential free flights.

With the growth of the Indian affluent class and the emergence of a discerning middle-class, more and more Indians find the need and having the money to plan at least one major holiday a year. For Indians, London, Singapore and Dubai, along with Thailand, continue to be favourite holiday destinations for international vacations; whereas, within India, Goa, Rajasthan and Kerala are popular destinations, apart from the hill stations which continue to be a perennial favourite during summers.

With a robust increase in the cards acceptance infrastructure in India, more people are finding it easier to use their credit or debit cards (as opposed to carrying cash ) to meet their needs on holiday. International travellers are also finding it convenient to carry a preloaded foreign currency (FX) card so that they have better control over their spending while overseas, without having to worry about the ever-changing conversion rates.
Planning a holiday can be a lot of fun, and a lot of cost, and the small challenges of putting together a great vacation can be surmounted by planning ahead. Select a credit card product which will Reward you handsomely and provide you with simple ways of making your card usage more rewarding. Utilise the benefits and offers (and the great discounts) which come to you on your card and don’t forget: that free ticket for a holiday is closer than you think!

Implications of GST for the Financial Services Sector

One of India’s biggest tax reforms, the Goods and Services Tax (GST), is expected to bring in a much awaited change, replacing an existing indirect tax regime which varies across states. It is hoped that the introduction of a nationwide sales tax will put Indian businesses on a high growth trajectory globally. By definition, GST is a single tax on supply of goods and services and while applicable in International jurisdictions, it has yet to be introduced in India.

The current position

Currently, under the scheme of indirect taxation, both the Central and State governments have the powers to tax businesses. Due to the possibility of an overlap, there is a significant increase in compliance and administrative costs. Further, it is a cumbersome process wherein a business needs to account for and pay separately for various taxes and duties. As the marketplace evolves, differentiating between goods and services is difficult, making separate taxation of both, tougher.

How will GST impact businesses?

GST is proposed to be implemented in India from April 2016. It would be a complete overhaul of the current indirect tax system with a comprehensive indirect tax levy on the manufacture, sale and consumption of goods and services nationally. It would result in ease of administration for the government, owing to its transparent nature. The deployment of technology in an effective manner will be the key to make proposed GST regime efficient and cost effective as far as compliance and administrative costs are concerned. Globally, GST has shown increased revenues, partly due to improved compliance, leading to a significant increase in output and productivity.

Implications on Financial Services

An important area to look at would be to ascertain how fee-based activities are treated, as currently they are generally liable to service tax. With GST being an all-encompassing levy, it may apply to all services, albeit with a list of exclusions. Thus, it would be important for fund-based activities to be a part of the list of exclusions to have the effect of continuing the current “no-tax” situation. Hence the classification of income between interest and fees need to be clearly defined.

Place of Supply (PoS) rules will impact calculation of GST on outbound and inbound transactions, as current location of the client is immaterial. If not clearly defined, operational costs of investment banks and other firms will go up, thereby increasing the total cost of providing service to a client. For example, if a Mumbai-based bank conducts a transaction for a Bangalore-based firm, for computing GST – whether it would be charged in the state that the service provider is located, or the client – needs to be determined.

Moving to input tax credits, under the current regime financial services typically get 50% set-off against output tax liability. Under the GST regime, it may move to actuals or be restricted to percentage recovery. If on actuals, the determination of exempt income would be paramount.

Overall, GST will benefit the economy across sectors, with minimisation or elimination of taxation-related inefficiencies.

GST in the news

To make GST successful, a reasonable GST rate will make it good for businesses and the economy as a whole. Internationally GST rates ranges from 16-20%. The GST rates would be in two components – Central GST and State GST. For manufacturers the current rate of the various indirect taxes in India amounts to roughly 25% and a GST rate at 20% would contain inflation. The government would stand to gain in medium to long term due to widening of tax
base. Thus efforts are on to ensure a taxpayer-friendly administration.

As of today, the implementation of GST is on hold due to parliamentary impasse between the ruling government and the Opposition. While the GST was passed in May 2015 by the Lok Sabha, it has currently been stalled in the Rajya Sabha owing to a political logjam. The Opposition has been demanding three major changes to the Bill. The government may now instead look at proposing a joint parliamentary session and also alternative options to roll out GST such as evaluating a two-rate structure, wherein key services would be taxed at a lower rate to give relief to consumers.

SME Banking – A Different Approach and a Different Mindset

The time is ripe for banks to step up their efforts to serve small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Indian markets. With innovations in technology, newer business models, increased thrust on encouraging SMEs and encouraging regulations, banks are overcoming traditional barriers and finding ways to partner with SMEs profitably.

The banking solutions that work for larger organizations will often not work with SMEs. Partnering with SMEs requires a very different approach and a different mindset. SMEs can sometimes tend to become lax with external capital as they do not have the same kind of capital controls as their larger organization counterparts. Yet, the same SMEs are able to get the most return for the buck when they bring valuable equity to the table as they exercise more diligence. Thus, a new model of banking where the interests of the SME clients and the interests of the banks are integrated is required.

The winning banks of tomorrow are the ones who will –

  • Encourage SMEs- Most SME clients tend to have little or no financial or business background. Their financial/business illiteracy is one of the most important factors that influence their credit applications. Instead of taking decisions based on their applications, banks must take proactive steps, understand the contextual background of the SMEs and empower them by providing the financial education they need through seminars, creating special start-up packages and handholding them through the life-cycle of their business. The success of the Mudra Bank which caters to the needs of micro-enterprises is a successful example.
  • Partner with the Government: The government is the bankers’ biggest ally when it comes to reaching out to the SMEs. Several new initiatives by the government have led to more SMEs coming forth for banking relations. Banks can influence government policy by sharing its learning, establishing risk-sharing facilities and providing valuable information on under-served and un-served SMEs. The government has recently launched several new initiatives and banks can provide advisory support to budding entrepreneurs
  • Building a deep understanding of the SME markets: SMEs operate across a widely-dispersed geographical cluster as well as their business models would cover diverse sectors. Dealing with such high levels of heterogeneous clients is a tough ask and one that is nearly impossible to achieve. Instead, banks can identify clear geographical clusters, specific business models and sectors to which it can cater to. Building a deep expertise across a few verticals and geographies will enable the banks to understand how SMEs operate and the nuances of this segment. Digital portals such as SMEcorner.com have made knowledge acquisition and understanding SME sector easier by use of innovative technology.

While most banks are still trying to penetrate and capture the SME opportunity, it is important that banks ask themselves a few important questions –

  • Does the bank have the required capabilities to enter and sustain in the SME segment?
  • What is the cost-benefit analysis of embracing the SME segment?
  • What kind of opportunities would the bank have to forego in its quest to make a meaningful impact in the SME segment?
  • What kind of customized offerings does the bank offer to the SME segment that will attract business from the SMEs?
  • And lastly, does the bank have resources, the strategy, the human resources, the team and the tools to execute the SME strategy?

In the end, banks must answer these questions honestly, based on data and with a view towards the future. The opportunity to build a sustainable practice that partner with the SMEs in a profitable, value-creating relationship-based approach is there for the grabs.

Rising Customer Expectations And Diminishing Customer Loyalty – Key Influencer For Innovation

Change is a ‘constant’ and changing dynamics in the banking landscape have brought forth the need for innovation. With new guidelines from RBI, the stage is set for competitive banking. The changing profile of a customer who has high expectations from his bank is keeping the banking industry anxious and eager to find right solutions. Banks need to play by new rules to survive and thrive in the new consumer economy.

Strategic focus – On the customer

Today’s customer is aware and demanding. He is not loyal to brands; he is loyal to the services that are extended to him. He expects more from banks – better and innovative products and services to meet his requirements. Patrons are more vocal today, thanks to the quick access and affinity to social media and therefore, banks have to be at the top of their games. Adaptability to markets, new processes, technology keeping in view the customer needs is of crucial importance.

Banks now need new strategies. They need to have a more educated view of the customer. Banks now need to go the customer-centric way – they need to put themselves in the shoes of the customers, engage more and provide personalized solutions. There is a need to think in the way that encourages innovation.

Understanding the new world economy

With free flow of information about industry, its products, range of services, pricing etc., banks need to think about their operating environment. Banks need to focus on long term goals, value addition and differentiation.

Traditional banking model which was supply driven is under duress because of the changes in society. There is a lot of difference in the way people did their business a decade ago and the way they do business and conduct their transactions today. There are payment apps, crowdfunding and other financial institutions that are ready to provide services to the customers with the ease that was traditionally provided by the banks, less dependence of start-ups and young entrepreneurs on banks. Technology has revamped customer-to-customer, customer-to-business and business-to-business transaction models and the banking sector has also been affected by these changes.

Better engagement is the key

Customer facing employees can give the fillip to customer engagement and drive customer loyalty. In an industry where there is little differentiation between products and services offered, the skills of people the banks employ become the game changer. Banking consumers today use the internet and automated channels, but they still need a personalised contact point when they need advice or reassurance. Along with a relationship-based approach to managing clients, banks need to think innovatively about ensuring that their employees come across as engaging and helpful ambassadors of the brands they represent.

Collect and Analyse Big data

The challenge for bankers today is to anticipate customers’ needs. They would do well if they collect big data and interpret and analyse it purposefully, to make inroads in real time. Customers today want their banks as their advisors and partners. Real time data and information gathered about the customers will help the banks in profiling and segregating the customers. The banks can then study the data and offer customized solutions. Some of these banking transactions now routinely happen out of the banking landscape. Banks need to understand how new technology adds to the convenience of the customers so that they can then incorporate the same new innovative features and services in their offers. They need to understand the demographic traits of the customers and understand their expectations.

Be where they are, and listen to them

Banks should be where their customers are. The banks that have a good web and mobile presence are more in tune with the sentiments of their customers. Banks also need to think about their content strategies. Right promotional tools like emailers, apps, and social media can help connect with customers who can then be provided with the right banking solutions.

Personal touches like reaching out on social media, calling customers when they are not sure about policies, suggesting better options if there is a lack of information about them – connecting with customers across touch points, in addition to everyday automated transactions, cement the relationship with the client.
IndusInd Bank took the lead and in the year 2014 it launched a unique customer-centric service called the Video Branch. This innovative offering enables customers to do a video conference with the bank staff from their devices at their convenience.

A gap in our ATM offering was identified whereby customers were unable to get denominations of their choice. The Choice Money ATM service was launched to allow them to choose from a mix of 100, 500 & 1000 rupee denominations at our ATMs. Similarly, we gave people the freedom to choose the number of their choice for the account they open with us.

These are exciting times for banks and other financial institutions. Traditional models are giving way to newer and more efficient models and banks are finding smarter and newer ways of doing business. Innovative ideas are finding acceptance and with continued experimentation, the future looks exciting.

Welcome to iBLOGS @ IndusInd Bank

Digitisation of business has become the central theme of IndusInd Bank and we believe that within a span of few years, entire businesses and industries will be riding on the digital wave. Keeping pace with time, we will also continue to invest in digital to create a differentiated banking experience which will delight our customers.
According to statistics from January 2015, India has 243 million active internet users and there are 100 million active mobile social media accounts. Social media includes a host of technology platforms. Some of the most commonly used platforms are Blogging and Micro blogging. According to figures from 2014, more than 6.7 million people blogged via blogging sites and over 77% of internet users read blogs.

Knowing this, it would only be prudent for organisations to use blogs as a tool to reach out to consumers both new and existing. The best blogs are ones that are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments and even message each other. If realised resourcefully, a banks blog and social media strategy can result in success for both enterprise and customers. Content customers also can be your social advocates, resulting in increased business.

Therefore, with the vision of a better and more informed tomorrow in mind, we are thrilled to introduce iBLOGS to you all!

iBLOGS stands for many things. The first amongst them obviously is IndusInd Blogs our initiative to talk about things we feel matter. It also stands for Innovation because we have conceived iBLOGS as a platform where we want to talk about not just innovations in the banking industry, but why innovation needs to be at the heart of every organizations philosophy today. Apart from Innovation, iBLOGS will talk about various themes such as Investments, Trends and Beyond Business.

The importance of Investments for financial institutions can never be undermined and therefore that was one of the things we wanted to talk about. We have always tried to assist public and private corporations raise funds in the capital market, both equity and debt, and would continue to do so.

We all want to stay updated about the latest trends in the BFSI industry. We always keep an eye out for current trends. And thats something we would like to talk about.

In order to evolve, change with time and technology, and better our service offerings, we would also need to stay in touch with the world at large. In our Beyond Business segment, we intend to do just that. We intend to move out of our microcosms and gain more knowledge about whats happening around.

Without any further ado, I would like to extend an invitation to all our stakeholders and customers to visit iBLOGS. You may be an employee or customer of IndusInd Bank, someone from the BFSI industry, an investor or a journalist, iBLOGS is for all of you. Come visit us and do give us your feedback.
Let the conversation begin.

How Corporate Banks can create a better customer experience in the Digitized World

Around the world, successful companies are building more intimate customer bonds by creating and consistently delivering a branded customer experience. Today clients expect their corporate banker to have real-time information at their fingertips. Clients want more than just information. They want better experiences. These experiences not only fulfill the stated needs of their customers but also predict their unstated requirements. They are able to do this by successfully predicting their customers’ behavior. From Starbucks – a new entrant in India challenging the home-grown market leaders, to Southwest Airlines- a successful outlier in the loss-making airlines business, these brands have leveraged technology and understood customer behavior to remain ahead of the pack.

In the world of corporate banking, the rules of customer engagement are constantly changing. The conventional face-to-face banking channel is being replaced by 24X7 mobile/online/social channels. Yet, at the same time, customers want a personal touch, a customer-delight moment that makes the whole experience remarkable and makes them want to come back.

There are 3 critical success factors that organizations such as corporate banks need to get right when it comes to creating better remarkable customer experiences in the digital world-

1) Seamless integration between the online and offline worlds – banks are faced with the twin challenges of continuously engaging their front-end clients and customers as well as optimizing their back-end complex operations and legacy software systems between the online and offline channels can make a big difference. While the online channel can engage the front-end clients, it needs to be backed up by an efficient offline team to ensure better customer retention, better utilization of marketing spends and faster turnaround times. A number of banks have automated many commonly used processes in a manner that saves costs while improving customer experiences. For example, new and innovative corporate purchasing and payment programs such as integrated expense management, automated VAT reclaim capabilities and smart wallets are being integrated in corporate loyalty and discount programs. This is made possible only when the online and offline worlds work in tandem to create a more customer-centric process.

2) Consistency matters – most organizations have the ability to deliver a stellar customer experience. The tougher part is in delivering that same level of customer delight consistently – day after day, across different markets and different levels of scaling up the business. That is what differentiates the best companies from the rest.
In the world of corporate banking, we need to create rules that empower customers and then ensure that everyone in the organization follows those rules. A paradigm shift in the organizational culture must accompany the transformation to new age banking.

3) More Mobile, More Social, More Analytical – the world’s most loved organizations are embracing the new realities of customer behavior. They understand that customers’ loyalty is achieved only when customer intimacy is gotten. For banking, the shift from a traditional transaction-driven business to a more intimate relationship-based experience must necessitate that banks are more mobile (always present with the customer), more social (make it easier to transact) and more analytical (predict the customers’ requirements). For example, corporate clients expect their corporate bankers to have all their latest information available with a swipe on their tablets which provides a real-time snapshot of the clients’ cash flows and finances. Leveraging mobile platforms, big data and cloud computing to provide up to the minute real-time information ensures that clients make most informed decisions at that point. This has already become the norm at some major banks and others are expected to follow suit.

In a digital world, organizations that are not able to seamlessly integrate their online/offline channels, cannot deliver a consistent level of customer delight or ignore their customers’ new realities, will find that they have become irrelevant or replaceable. In a world of ‘Innovate-or-Die’, this is the only reality that matters.