C-Suite officers broadening horizon of India’s financial sector

C-Suite officers

Sustainability, in the digital era, is making it imperative for organisations to hire executives who are multitaskers and skilled to implement tech-based innovations rapidly. Better risk governance and solid strategies, especially in terms of technology are flagging off the need to appoint C-Suite Officers across the BFSI industry. Rashi Aditi Ghosh of Elets News Network (ENN) explores how CXOs are enabling transformation and helping the sector reinvent itself while broadening their horizon in the technology landscape.

C-Suite officers

The Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) sector in India is undergoing a massive transformation in alignment with technology. They are investing heavily on digital technologies in a bid to match the footsteps of leading global competitors offering a wide range and sophisticated products and services. By embracing rapidly advancing technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cognitive computing, India’s banks are preparing themselves to infuse efficiency and meet new challenges in the financial sector.

Growing Demand for C-Suite officers

According to research reports, CXO recruitments have witnessed a massive growth in recent years. The overall demand for C-suite executives is expected to witness a 20-25 percent hike fuelled by growing demand for niche skill sets. As per BTI Executive Search, which delivers 65-70 CXO hires per annum at compensation packages upwards of Rs 70 lakh-Rs 5 crore, for its customers, expects to see up to 60 percent YoY growth in demand for CXOs this year, driven by demand for niche skills sets.

What is C-Suite?

 C-suite, or C-level, or CXO is widely- used term describing a cluster of a corporation’s most important senior executives. C-suite gets its name from the titles of top senior staffers, which tend to start with the letter C, for “chief,” as in chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), chief operating officer (COO), and chief information officer (CIO).

Explaining the role of Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) in the banking sector, V G Kannan, Chief Executive, Indian Banks’ Association during a conference organised by Elets Technomedia, said, “The role of Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) has become critical in the Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) industry. Technology interface is bringing robust changes in the financial institutions.”

Why CXOs are Significant?

The new C-suite officers play a significant role as they allow companies to direct their attention towards specific strategic priorities. Many of these new titles illustrate the key focus areas of a particular company. For example, after a serious data breach, a company may go out and hire a Chief Security Officer to show its investors and customers that this is an issue that the company is currently working on and believes it to be critical to its continued success.

Explaining the need to appoint CTO, a member of the C-Suite family, for technology advancement and efficiency, Shiv Kumar Bhasin, Former Chief Technology Officer, State Bank of India and CTO, National Stock Exchange, once said, “A CTO is significant in deciding technology theme or vision of the banking industry.” “I believe that to transform the banking industry, appointing CTOs and completing their goal setting is very important. CTOs can help in setting up the bank as an open platform that can help consumers in enabling better banking options loaded with innovations,” he said.

What it takes to be a C-Suit officers?

Reaching this high stratum typically demands a plethora of experience and finely-honed leadership skills. While many C-level operatives formerly depended on functional know-how and technical excellence to reach the top of corporate ladder, most have cultivated more visionary perspectives needed to make sound upper management decisions.

“The recent breakthrough in the power of digitalisation and technology within the BFSI sector has compelled SPECIAL STORY one to reimaging the role of CXOs in an organisation. Being architects of comprehensive digital infrastructures in an organisation, CXOs today are working towards ensuring better access of essential services for their customers on digital platforms, “said Byju Joseph, Chief Technology Officer- Future Generali India Life Insurance.

“At Future Generali India Life Insurance Company, we are working towards increasingly becoming a technology-led financial service company, rather than just an insurance company with a technology division. We believe in fostering relationships to nurture a culture that balances business mandates with digital initiatives. All our services are now designed to be cloud aware.Furthermore, we have adopted a more ‘inclusive’ approach where instead of worrying about fintech start-ups, we are actively building bridges to leverage interdependent ecosystems of partners, suppliers, distributors and consumers,” he added.

Responsibilities at the C-Level C-level members work in concert to ensure that a company’s strategies and operations function in alignment with their established plans and policies. With public companies, activities that don’t lean toward increased profits for shareholders are routinely corrected, under the purview of C-level management personnel.

Explaining the role of CXOs in driving the digital disruption, Butchi Babu Burra, Senior Domain Expert – IT, IDRBT said, “In the present scenario as far as public sector banks are a concern, I believe that CXOs are definitely the drivers of digital disruption.” Talking about the role of Chief Information Officers (CIOs), in particular, Burra added, “The role of CIOs are not just limited to innovation but their role is now reinventing into Chief Information Business Officers. They are now significantly participating in ensuring technology innovation keeping its relevance in terms of business expansion and customer satisfaction.”

The evolving role of CXOs or C-Suite Officers is now helping the BFSI institutions in embracing technology innovations. These officers are assisting the banks in scaling up and meeting up the fast-changing demands of the millennials.

According to Harvard Business Review, requirements for all the C-level jobs have shifted toward business acumen and “softer” leadership skills. Technical skills are merely a starting point, the bare minimum.

 “A Chief Information Officer (CIO) or a CXO cannot be following the traditional rules in terms of bringing technological transformation. He has to think from the business point of view as well. Today, when we think about the implementation of new technology or disruptive technology, the dynamics change completely by the time we are actually implementing it in the organisation. It is important to increase the scale in the recent times and to do that it is significant to explore the entire population of the country,” said Nikhil Bandi, Senior Vice President & Chief Information Officer, Vistaar Financial Services.

Sunit Vakharia, Chief Information Officer, BOB Financial Solutions Ltd said,” It is true the CIOs are evolving and enabling innovation but in the global context this theory does not fit well. I came to know that one of the most advanced American banks’ board is now a tech-forward board. It means that every member of the board has to have a reasonable knowledge of technology to make your company stand against the plethora of FinTech advancements coming. It means that they are not worried about the banks, they are actually worried about the fintech companies.”

How Challenging is the Role a CXO?

According to Harvard Business Review, requirements for all the C-level jobs have shifted toward business acumen and “softer” leadership skills. Technical skills are merely a starting point, the bare minimum. To thrive as a C-level executive, an individual needs to be a good communicator, a collaborator, and a strategic thinker.

A CEO would now count on a CIO, for instance, to weigh in on a discussion about expansion into a new market and how the firm’s systems could support that expansion. What would the challenges be? What would be the long-term impact of the IT expenditures required to support the expansion? The CIO would be expected to provide answers to those questions.

“There is no tech-led innovation; it is either the organisation or the requirement of the customer that brings innovation. The time has come when CIOs are transitioning into Chief Information Business Officers. In the next three-four years, it will be the CIOs who will be on the top of the domain. They will be actively involved in tech-ordinate business promotion. If you look at the practices across the globe, you will find the most of the businesses are opting for tech-oriented business models,” said Srivaths Varadharajan, Chief Information Officer, Niyogin Fintech Ltd.

CXOs and the Future of Marketing in Digital Era Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)

Being an integral part of the CXO family, CMOs play a pivotal role in driving the sales and/or marketing strategies of a banking and financial institution. These executives are trained to manage social innovation and product development initiatives across both brick-and-mortar establishments and electronic platforms—the latter of which is highly essential in today’s digital era.

“The role of marketing officers in the last five years has changed drastically. It is no longer what it used to be. Earlier marketing persons were not the leading persons but now they are on the driving seat. They actually engage the customers with your brand. Today the customer is better-informed consumer and he can make smart choices. So how is this happening? It is happening because of the decisions made by Chief Marketing Officer,” said Dinesh Menon, Chief Marketing Officer, State Bank of India.

Explaining the role of marketing in today’s era, SVLN Nageswara Rao, General Manager, Digitisation & Marketing, Allahabad Bank said, “Marketing helps you stay connected with the branch. It keeps the customer aware pertaining to every recent update associated with the bank he has his account with. It has evolved and will keep evolving while keeping the customers’ requirements in mind.”


 Going forward, C-level executives will not only manage their own business areas in banking institutions; they will also be active members of the organisation’s senior leadership who offer advice to the CEO pertaining to key decisions. Based on the dynamically changing demands of the customers in today’s digital era, the CXO needs to be more team-oriented, capable of multitasking continuously and leading without rank, and able to resist stress.

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