Foreign banks operating in India are concentrating hiring efforts on filling relationship management roles in their corporate banking divisions as the the country's economic prospects improve and local and multinational businesses raise their demand for credit.
New research by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Foreign banks in India At an inflection, released last week, revealed that two thirds of the 32 banks polled said recruiting would centre on RMs in corporate banking.
"Risk management also came up as a key area of investment where specialised expertise is required by banks. This was interestingly in contrast with many other markets where hiring strategies at present are more focused around compliance and AML functions."
Jaideep Khanna, CEO & country head of Barclays India - one of those surveyed and one of the banks hiring in 2014 - says the current focus on corporate banking is a function of the current dynamics of the Indian economy.
"India is at the bottom of the economic cycle but an improvement is expected in 2014 and this will likely drive growth in financial services. Foreign banks tend to bank the larger corporates and MNCs. But this activity is coming off a low base and many banks want to be positioned to take advantage of an uptick."
Nilay Khandelwal, director of Michael Page India, says most of the foreign banks have faced a tough time in India except for a couple of larger ones who have succeeded in understanding the local market. But he says there has been an increase in recruitment activity in the last quarter, and this is likely to continue into next year.
Khanna says that India is 'capital starved' and there are now plenty of opportunities to apply credit or equity with companies. But he notes that this will place greater demand on the pool of existing talent, so retention and motivation will become core issues for banks.
The PwC report notes that many foreign banks in India have faith in the talent pool available, "...considering it (on) par with global standards....However, many banks also felt that there was increasing pressure to pay more for quality of resources that was not necessarily the best."
Khanna says the right talent is available to the foreign banks, which tend to be premium players, "aspirational employers with compensation levels higher than those paid by domestic banks."
But he adds that while "99%" of the people he interviews are over-qualified and have technical skills they'll never use, many do not have equal abilities in being able to talk to and convince clients.
"The academic system and programmes in India tend to focus on quantitative skills to the detriment of life skills."
The upside is that India's large population means that it is not too difficult to find enough suitable candidates with the right skills, especially as Indian professionals, he points out, tend to be very competitive and driven.
Moorthy K Uppaluri, CEO, Randstad India, believes the sector - both domestic and foreign banks - will generate a 5% to 8% increase in hiring in 2014 and up to a million new jobs in the coming few years.
The main reasons for this growth, says Uppaluri, include the large-scale implementation of mobile financial solutions and the establishment of ATM networks; a dramatic increase in hiring by public sector banks of up to 750,000 people as half of the workforce in lower to middle level functions retires over the next few years; and the introduction of new bank licenses.
"The increase in offshore banking operations is expected to result in job creation of at least 100,000 jobs in the coming year."