Heads of credit card segment changed to clean up the portfolio
By Ankit Sharma
Apr 24, 2009
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The credit card portfolio of banks that have been facing a rise in delinquencies and non-performing assets (NPAs) is inducing banks to change their attitude from following an aggressive sales strategy to training people who will focus on cleaning up and recovery of the division.

In fact there have been changes in the chiefs of credit card segment of four leading card issuers in the market. SBI Cards appointed chief general manager, Diwakar Gupta as the head of chief executive officer (CEO) of its cards business. Gupta replaced Roopam Asthana, who had been given the post in recommendation of SBI Cards partner firm, GE Money. This change was brought after the company suffered a loss of Rs 152 crore in the financial year 2007-08 on the back of rising default rate.

A report from ICRA in January stated, "SBI Cards has reinforced its top management to arrest the deterioration in asset quality."

Last year Citibank's business manager of cards, T R Ramachandran was also replaced by Sandeep Bhalla, who had experience in the cards business in the US. Ramachandran was shifted as head of the retail banking division in Citibank but he resigned his post to become the CEO of Aviva Life Insurance.

Commenting on development, Citibank spokesperson said, "The last year has seen strong managers such as Sandeep Bhalla, Business Manager-Cards, and Harjeet Chopra, Country Risk Manager, join the India Consumer organisation from Citi overseas. Grooming senior managers who have experience across businesses, functions and geographies is critical to Citi's talent strategy and we take this task very seriously."

Even ICICI Bank and HSBC changed their heads of credit cards division. Both ICICI and HSBC heads of credit card, Sachin Khandelwal and Dheeraj Dixit were replaced by Vinayak Prasad and Ravi Subramanian respectively.

Ravi was a co-head of consumer credit and risk at HSBC and Prasad was earlier the joint general manager reporting to the cards head at ICICI Bank.

Commenting on the developments a multinational bank head of credit cards said, "It cannot be a coincidence that all the heads of credit cards have been replaced within 10 months of each other."

Bankers said that the new credit cards heads are now asked to clear up the portfolio and focus on the premium customers in the current phase.


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