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‘There is a huge scope for innovation in banking product offerings’

Apeejay School of Management alumnus Rajesh Parikh shares insights about how digitisation and innovative technologies are creating unprecedented disruption in India’s banking sector



Apeejay School of Management alumnus Rajesh Parikh, from the class of 1995-97, began his career as a sales professional. Having spent roughly five years in sales, he then transitioned to build his career in the financial sector. During his career, the finance professional has worked in Retail Finance, Mid-Market Finance, Corporate Finance, Project Finance (at which time I also managed Aircraft Financing), Technology Finance and Leasing. He emphasises, “Learning new things at each organisation and all the new roles were pivotal for my professional growth and success. What I learnt during my MBA, often helped me in my career.” The ASM alumnus currently runs a fee-based investment advisory consultancy, engaging new age financial practices to guide personalised investment decisions for his clients. In addition, he is a long time personal investor who enjoys learning about market trends.

For Rajesh, balancing professional life with hobbies has helped him cultivate friendships with peers and build meaningful professional relationships. And one hobby he has been consistently pursuing is playing badminton. “Playing with my team began as a hobby and team-building activity, but eventually evolved into a company-sponsored squad. I’ve also represented my firm in intercompany badminton tournaments,” he added.  The game has also promoted a sense of team spirit which has led to better motivation at work. In an interview, he talks about the transformations in the financial sector and lessons learnt from his professional journey.

You have been with the financial sector for many years. Currently, companies in the financial sector are embracing technology and automation. Your views?

Due to strict rules, India has been sluggish to accept contemporary financial products. Nevertheless, the old paradigm of in-person banking is now being challenged by new-age digital first, tech integrated banking firms. Customer Relationship Management and data mining are being used to introduce new products. However, there is immense scope and potential in this industry for greater technology adoption and we have a long way to reaching the levels of adoption seen in industrialised economies. Due to India’s diverse population, with different levels of incomes and varied banking needs, banking in India provides a complex landscape. To tackle this challenge, there is a huge scope for innovation in banking product offerings, which I am optimistic that we will see in the coming years.

Do you think the rise of neo-banks will disrupt the traditional banking system in India?  

The current status-quo is being challenged by neo-banks. For the uninitiated, neo-banks are digital-only financial technology companies that operate solely online or via mobile apps.  Traditional banks will be pushed to accept the services that neo-banks currently provide. Competition will drive both neo-banks and traditional banks and that will lead to further improvement. In an economy of the scale of India, there is enough room for coexistence. As a result of this, customers will eventually benefit from decreased costs and improved services. The government’s agenda under the Jan Dhan Yojna has demonstrated that a huge section of India’s population was previously “unbanked”. Realising this banking potential has been one of the monumental achievements of the neo-bank era.

Why and how important it has become to impart money management or financial literacy among children these days? 

Having spent years in the financial industry, and in the capacity of an investor, as well as having imparted financial literacy skills to my son, I feel it’s absolutely vital for children to learn about money management from an early age. Traditionally in large families, money was managed by the household elders who had years of experience in dealing with money and skills were passed down over generations. With rising earnings, nuclear family approach and changes in banking products and financial systems, traditional wisdom must be supplemented with formal new-age learning. Moreover, with rising earnings, frequent job losses, and younger generations outdating the senior generation faster, money management skills are highly needed from an early age for children to become financially independent in today’s world.

Two core skills aspirants must possess to be a part of the financial sector?

Basic core concepts of finance as taught in an MBA programme and in-depth knowledge in Excel/Python. Also, one must be abreast with the macro developments in the economy – as it has a huge impact. Continue to strive; the world is brimming with opportunities and possibilities.

Any fond memories and learnings from ASM?

We were part of Apeejay’s second batch (1995-97), and the institute was working hard to establish itself as an MBA programme after a long history in the educational field. Mr. Gulati, who taught operations management, and Mr. Bhattacharya, who taught marketing, were among the best faculty we had at the time. But I’ll never forget what I learned about corporate taxes. I have done a good job managing my personal taxes throughout the years – thanks to this course I took during my MBA. People have come to me for advice on business concerns and transaction structuring throughout my professional life. There was a time when different states had varying VAT/Sales taxes.

Apeejay ensured that the batch selected was very homogeneous. We had a concept of group projects, and it was a fantastic learning opportunity to work in a team – similar to what you would find in the corporate sector – where you work with individuals who have a variety of abilities and experiences. Later on, I had to work with people from other nations, and this knowledge came very handy.

We also had a course on Entrepreneurship led by Mr. P K Gupta, the college director. Even though this course was challenging, I am confident that students who have embarked on an entrepreneurial venture would find value in the wisdom he imparted during those classes. ASM is what you make it. If you have a sense of belonging to your institute, you will do your best for the institute’s benefit, which will in turn benefit you. 

Harshita is Assistant Editor at Apeejay newsroom. With experience in both the Media and Public Relations (PR) world, she has worked with Careers360, India Today and Value360 Communications. A learner by nature, she is a foodie, traveller and believes in having a healthy work-life balance.