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15,000 staff quit in a few months as Axis Bank revamps functions

Axis bank is witnessing a wave of resignations with at least 15,000 people leaving in the past few months, as mid and branch-level executives struggle to cope with the new management’s growth drive that’s pushing the limits, three people familiar with the matter said.

Some exits were at the senior level as well, but most of the resignations were at the branches which are the vital touch points with customers. So, this could hamper its ability to continue growing without hiccups, although the bank says it is also stepping up its pace of hiring. “With the complete overhaul of the way the bank functions, many are left wondering about their roles,” said one of the executives, who did not want to be identified. “Many old-timers are feeling a bit of discomfort with the cultural change.”

Axis Bank admitted that it had seen record resignations in the past few months. However, it said it had already hired 28,000 people this fiscal year and would hire another 4,000 in the last quarter. The net new hiring for the bank this fiscal year is 12,800. It also has plans to hire 30,000 people in the next two years. The attrition rate at the bank this fiscal year is nearly 19%, compared with an average of about 15%.

The bank has 72,000 employees. It had an attrition of 11,500 people in the last fiscal year.

“The bank is expanding fast and this has been a year of large number of new hirings, substantially higher numbers compared to last year both in gross as well as on net basis,” executive director Rajesh Dahiya said. “Our employees are our biggest asset and differentiators.”
Chief executive Amitabh Chaudhry is overhauling the functioning of Axis Bank after the Reserve Bank of India declined another term to his predecessor, Shikha Sharma. The former head of HDFC Life is cutting down on risk taking and has brought in a new bunch of his choice of people to deliver on his strategy.

Some of his hires are Deepak Maheshwari, a former banker from HDFC Bank; Neeraj Gambhir from Nomura Securities; Ganesan Sankaran from Federal Bank and Pralay Mondal from Yes Bank, to drive retail business. Rajiv Anand, an executive director, was moved to corporate banking.

“We have a sharper focus with our GPS’22 (growth, profitability, sustainability) strategy and want to keep building the momentum,” said Dahiya. “We believe we are on the right track.”

The changes led to many exits including the latest one by Jairam Sridharan as the chief financial officer. Before that, Shashikant Rathi, its head of bond trading, and JP Singh from the commercial banking division quit. Cyril Anand, who was the chief risk officer, took the employee retirement option.

Under Chaudhry, the bank has seen its reporting structure change. Earlier, most of the business heads reported to executive directors. Now, almost all of them report independently to the CEO.

The bank is also going big on automation and making use of artificial intelligence to drive growth, which is making many of the oldtimers uncomfortable. Among the new hiring, the slant is towards engineers rather than
Bankers

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