Banks seek talent for on-tap CXO hiring

State-run banks are increasingly turning to consultants, empanelling them to identify domain experts and speed up future hires as and when they need executives for specialized C-suite roles.

Punjab National Bank (PNB), Union Bank of India and Central Bank of India are among those looking for consultants. Although banks have their internal cadres, some of these specialized roles require domain expertise that is not always readily available within the workforce. These roles include chief technology officer, chief financial officer, chief risk officer, chief digital officer, chief information security officer and chief economic adviser.

Banks are selecting consultants beforehand, ensuring they can tap these consultants when the need for specialized talents arises. While banks have the final say in whom they hire from those shortlisted by consultants, their involvement leads to quicker hiring for critical positions, a senior public sector banker said on the condition of anonymity.

“While we have a talent pool in our bank and the public sector banking at large, we lack people in some domains like technology, making it essential to hire from the market. Our bankers have been dealing in finances for several years, but it is difficult for them to quickly garner knowledge in tech and digital to head a vertical,” the banker said.

Meanwhile, PNB wants empanelled consultants to aid in hiring domain experts. According to a document seen by Mint, the bank wants consultants to coordinate with it and prepare job specifications for various positions, undertake salary surveys and finalize the compensation structure. Apart from that, the consultants would be required to prepare the advertisement for filling positions identified by the bank.

“Screening of candidates and conducting interviews by the selection committee constituted by the bank shall also be facilitated by the human resources consultants,” the document said.

However, there are search firms that are shying away from these contracts. “Although the intent is there, the terms and commercials are not on par with private banks,” said a banking recruiter of a leading search firm on the condition of anonymity.

Experts said under government guidelines, state-owned banks have to publish requests for proposal (RFPs) for every post that is vacant and needs to be filled, making it a long-drawn process.

“The number of candidates applying for these posts is huge and often needs sifting through. Empanelled recruiters have a database of candidates who are often a better match, and over the last couple of years, demand for chief revenue officer, chief technology officer, risk and compliance head, data analyst, digital head,” said Upasana Agarwal, partner (professional and financial services), ABC Consultants.

Agarwal said the surge in demand is pushing PSUs to depend on recruiters, but even candidates shortlisted by a recruiting firm need to respond to the advertisement for hiring to avoid disparity.

“The contracts with empanelled recruiters are typically for three years, and the hiring in senior management is on contracts nowadays,” she said.

According to K. Sudarshan, managing partner at search firm EMA Partners, public sector banks are looking at talent from outside the sector, which they cannot find inside. “These are mostly for roles across functions like digital, technology and finance. Usually, the contracts with the CXOs range between three to four years, and typically, it signals that PSBs (public sector banks) are willing to pay market-driven compensation to these experts,” Sudarshan said.

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Updated: 01 Nov 2023, 12:06 AM IST

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