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SBI seeks clarity on CFO qualifications

MUMBAI: State Bank of India (SBI) has sought clarity from the banking regulator on the mandatory qualification for its chief financial officer — whether the official must be a chartered accountant — before appointing a full-time executive to that job, sources aware of the lender’s query to the central bank told ET.

Currently, a deputy managing director holds interim charge of the position and the lender wants clarity before making fresh appointments.

SBI’s earlier full-time CFO, Prashant Kumar, was sent to Yes Bank as its chief executive officer in March this year after which the bank had given additional charge of the department to its deputy managing director, Chalasani Venkat Nageswar, who is responsible for the bank’s international portfolio.

“Almost all public sector banks do not have a CFO who is a qualified chartered accountant; so SBI is seeking clarity on this rule before making full-time appointments,” said a person in the know. “The bank has also sought to know if any lateral hiring would be required to fill this role.”

SBI did not respond to ET’s mailed queries.

The bank had recently elevated 14 senior executives to the level of deputy managing directors. The lender is hoping to designate one DMD to the role of CFO. ET could not verify if the bank has shortlisted a candidate internally.

With rapid changes in the banking sector, the central bank had urged banks to appoint qualified personnel to head critical functions such as finance to ensure a better risk governance framework.

In the guidelines released in May 2017, the central bank had recommended a chartered accountant qualification and an experience of 15 years for the CFO post, along with experience in overseeing financial operations, preferably accounting and taxation matters.

Most banks, especially state-owned lenders, have been found wanting on meeting this criterion. Axis Bank had in February appointed Puneet Sharma, a qualified chartered accountant, as its chief financial officer to meet the RBI criteria.

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