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Banks seek talent for on-tap CXO hiring


State-run banks are increasingly turning to consultants, forcing them to identify domain experts and speed up recruitment when they need executives for specialized C-suite roles.

Punjab National Bank (PNB), Union Bank of India and Central Bank of India are among those looking for consultants. While banks have their due diligence in-house, some of these specialist roles require domain expertise that is not always readily available within the workforce. These roles include chief technology officer, chief financial officer, chief risk officer, chief digital officer, chief information security officer and chief economic advisor.

Banks are pre-selecting consultants, ensuring that they can draw on these consultants when specialist talent is required. While banks have the final say on who hires shortlisted consultants, their participation results in faster hiring for critical positions, said a senior public sector banker on condition of anonymity.

“Although we have a talent pool in our bank and in public sector banking in general, we lack people in certain areas such as technology, which makes it necessary to hire people from the market. Our bankers have been dealing with finance for several years, but it is difficult for them to gather knowledge quickly on technology and digital to lead a vertical,” the banker said.

Meanwhile, PNB is asking role model consultants to help hire domain experts. According to documents seen by Mint, the bank wants consultants to coordinate with it and prepare job specifications for various positions, conduct salary surveys and finalize the compensation structure. Otherwise, the consultants would have to prepare the notification for filling the positions identified by the bank.

“The human resource consultants will also facilitate screening of candidates and conducting interviews by the selection committee constituted by the bank,” the document said.

However, there are search firms that shy away from these contracts. “Although the intent is there, the terms and announcements are not on par with private banks,” said a banking recruiter at a leading search firm on condition of anonymity.

Experts said that under government guidelines, state-owned banks must publish requests for proposals (RFPs) for all vacant positions that need to be filled, making it a lengthy process.

“There are a large number of candidates applying for these positions and they often require close scrutiny. Recruiters have a database of candidates that are often a better match, and in the last few years, there has been a demand for chief revenue officer, chief technology officer, risk and compliance head, data analyst, digital head,” said Upasana Agarwal, partner ( professional and financial services), ABC Advisors.

Agarwal said the surge in demand is forcing PSUs to rely on recruiters, but even candidates shortlisted by a recruitment firm have to respond to the advertisement for hire to avoid imbalance.

“The contracts with employed recruiters are usually for three years, and the hiring in senior management is on contracts these days,” she said.

According to K. Sudarshan, managing partner at search firm EMA Partners, public sector banks are looking for talent from outside the sector, which they cannot find within. “These are mostly for roles across functions such as digital, technology and finance. Usually, the contracts with the CXOs are for three to four years, and typically, it indicates that BSCs (public sector banks) are willing to pay market-driven compensation to these experts,” said Sudarshan.

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Updated: 01 November 2023, 12:06 AM IST

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