Exclusive | Covid-19 challenges were not a part of anyone’s Business Continuity Plan: Sreeram Iyer, COO, ANZ Bank

Sreeram Iyer

There is no playbook to look at and refer to deal with the challenges created by the outbreak of Covid-19. These circumstances were not a part of anyone’s Business Continuity Plan and therefore adaptability and sustainability is difficult during these times, says Sreeram Iyer, Chief Operating Officer, ANZ Bank.

Sreeram Iyer

While sharing his views during a virtual panel discussion on topic Banking@2025-The Viral Transmission of the Digital Future, hosted during Elets Nextgen BFSI Virtual Summit, he said, “We are in 2020, I don’t even know what’s going to happen next month let alone 2025. So, I am not going to claim that I have the answer but reflecting on this crisis so far my experience suggests that the bank I work with covers 25 countries so we have had the benefit of the crisis hitting different countries at different points in time starting with China soon after Christmas. So, we could prepare ourselves a little bit better by the time it reached different markets of the world, which is the positive side from a response of view.

Segregating the challenges into three categories, Iyer added, “The crisis created by Covid-19 can be seen in three layers. One is adaptability which tells you how well can you adapt to the situation that we were all thrown into, which is quite a difficult challenge because arguably this crisis never featured or does not feature in anyone’s Business Continuity Plans.  If at all it might have featured in somewhere in some powerpoint presentation. There’s no playbook to look at it.”

 

“So, there is the adaptability challenge that we had to respond to. Then there is the sustainability which puts up the question that can you sustain this and for how long, which is what we are currently going through as different countries are showing better recovery with respect to Covid and some slip back in wave.  So it’s been a mixed uh response,” he stated.

“I suppose, we are all past the stage where we are very pleased with the amount of quantum of working from home and I think beyond the economy and health crisis if banks can prevent this from slipping into a financial crisis, it’s a good outcome relative to what it is. I am not taking away the human loss but at least the banks are a better place as the capital is good and the liquidity is stable and the solvency is sound. I’d say the way we talk about it within the bank is, never waste a crisis and look for opportunities even during this crisis,” he added.

Prior to ANZ Bank, Sreeram had worked with Standard Chartered and ITC Classic Financial Services.

He holds an MBA from Henley Management College, UK and a Bachelor of Commerce from Bombay University, India. He is s Graduate of Executive Leadership Programs at MIT (Digital Transformation), INSEAD (Strategy) and London Business School, a Fellow of the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants India. He is also a qualified Company Secretary (CCS) and a Certified Financial Analyst (CFA).

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