In a considerable shift in their strategy, the ICICI Bank Ltd has decided to go slow on its retail assets expansion after three years of accelerated growth in the segment.
As a result of this new development, consumer loans, mortgages and auto loans, which jointly accounted for about 69% of ICICI’s total loan book two years ago, have now come down to 58%, and are set to decrease even further.
The shift stems from the bank’s belief that bigger opportunities lie ahead of the bank in corporate loans.
While some observers see this as ICICI, India’s second largest private sector lender, developing cold feet in the retail segment influenced by growing non-performing assets, or NPAs, in such loans, however, Chanda Kochchar, joint managing director and CFO of ICICI, rubbishes these claims saying it is not possible to keep growing at the bank’s previous scorching pace, especially as its base becomes larger.
Kochchar said, “The growth rate of consumer credit will come down from 35-40% to 12-15% this year.”
Explaining the bank’s new move, she adds that the bank’s growth in consumer credit will be in tune with the industry, but the new development would give an edge to the bank. Its growth for corporate credit will be higher than the industry, or more than 20%. ICICI’s focus now will be on retail liabilities instead of assets. In other words, the bank will aggressively mop up retail deposits and not go for retail loans. As retail deposits cost less than wholesale deposits, this should bring down the cost of deposits and add to the profits of ICICI.