Legacy employees of ‘Catholic Syrian Bank’ now a minority!

By CL Jose

Only 673 employees now under Defined Benefit Pension scheme

KOCHI/January 03-2021: The ‘legacy employees’ in the centenarian CSB Bank are fast becoming an endangered segment within the bank, which last year has shed its original name – Catholic Syrian Bank, the name that shouldered the bank for about a century.

CSB Bank went through several transformational processes in the past four years including the acquisition of 51 per cent ownership in the bank by FIH Mauritius Investments Ltd (FIH-M), setting the stage for the first deal where a foreign entity has taken up a majority stake in a private bank since the ownership norms were tightened by RBI in 2017.

And this has required the bank to go for a public issue in 2019 and subsequent listing in order to meet the conditions set for the induction of Fairfax as a majority shareholder in the bank.

The employees of the erstwhile Catholic Syrian Bank (CSB) have already become a minority and the number, according to one from the ‘Old Team’, is consistenlty dwindling.

Even the top brass of the bank is being transposed as top ranking officials from leading private sector banks have been fast filling the C-Suites in CSB Bank.

Top brass getting facelift

The bank has already appointed Pralay Mondal from Axis Bank as CSB Bank’s President (Retail, SME, Operations and IT, and Neeraj Dhawan as Chief Credit Officer – Retail & SME, Strategy, BIU and Analytics and many others are rumoured to be joining in the marketing soon.

Out of the 3,204-strong current workforce, only 1,600 were from the old set up as of September-end. Talking to analysts recently, C VR Rajendran, the bank’s MD and CEO, informed that 32 employees had opted for voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) during the six months until September-end.

2000 to join soon

He said on the HR front, the bank is hiring key talents from the private sector and today, the bank has only about 1,600 people from the old setup. The bank said more than 2000 people are joining the bank from other banks soon.

“Either they are direct recruits, or they are lateral recruits. They are all well settled. Culturally, we have become a new private sector bank to a large extent. Most of the branches function like a new private sector bank branch. So it is well accepted. Alignment is very good,” the bank chief said.

The bank said the recruitment of the marketing heads is completed, and now the marketing officers are being recruited and the full marketing team is expected to be in the field during January itself.

Following the entry about two years ago of Fairfax Group that currently controls close to 50 per cent of the bank’s ownership, the work culture has undergone a drastic change, and admittedly, the bank has witnessed a steepening in its performance curve too.

“But in the process, most of the employees from the old setup started finding the place a bit ‘alien’ to them, and the ‘innovative retirement scheme’ introduced by the bank about two years ago, against strong resistance from the aggrieved senior employees, started taking the toll on them as it accelerated retirement in the bank in the past two years,” a union leader lamented.

“Normal retirements of pension optees during the half year were 71. Now only 673 employees are under Defined Benefit Pension scheme, which constitutes just 18 per cent of the total workforce,” CSB Bank MD explained further.


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