Axis Bank Board’s Motto: Trust Only in Strangers

Outsiders Recruited in Senior Management of Axis Bank

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY. The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) approval of the selection of Amitabh Chaudhry, the then HDFC Standard Life Insurance Chief Executive Officer (CEO), as the Axis Bank CEO on August 8, 2018, and his taking charge on January 1, 2019, were celebrated by the market. Analysts and the media were also favourably inclined towards his lateral new hires in the senior management, all of whom had spent many years in HDFC Bank. Unfortunately, these developments actually revealed a strategic fault line in the organisation. The Axis Bank board in its quarter century of existence has not only failed to groom internal candidates for the top-most job, but also recently has been unable to nurture or to trust internal candidates being appointed as executive directors and other critical posts (exception of Chief Risk Officer) in senior management. Recently, it has announced a voluntary retirement scheme which is virtually devoid of benefits to the retiring personnel; over 50 senior management personnel are being eased out at the end of April 2019 with little more than Mediclaim and unexercised stock options to show for their years of service. Such a step is likely to send demoralising tremors down the entire organisation. When the board of Axis Bank believes that only outsiders can be trusted in critical posts in senior management, and these posts are denied to the in-house cadre, how can the bank achieve the present CEO’s performance objectives of a sustainable ROE of 18% and doubling the market capitalisation?  


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