State Bank of India may slow hiring in next few years

State Bank of India, the country's largest lender, may go slow on recruitments during the next 2-3 years, a top bank official said here today.

According to A Krishna Kumar, Managing Director, the bank will try to maintain the employee strength at current levels even as it keeps expansion programmes in mind.

"We will see the extent of people who are retiring from the bank from all levels. So to that (extent) we may look at replenishing that stock. We will not try to increase. Right now, we have 2.23 lakh people working with us," Kumar said.

By March 2014, the employee strength may fall to 2.2 lakh, he said.

"So we will try to keep the figure constant between 2.2 and 2.23 lakh over the next few years. By reducing the staff all of a sudden, the other activity does not function effectively. But at the same time I should not increase my staff so much that my productivity and my expense becomes an issue," Kumar told reporters at a press conference.

As per SBI, the head count reduced by nearly 5,000 between March and December 2013. For the first nine months of the current financial year, SBI incurred Rs 17,225 crore towards staff expenses, up 35 per cent over the same period last year.

An RBI report last year said SBI ranks below the national average when it comes to business and profit per employee. As per data on the Indian banking sector, SBI's business per employee in 2012-13 was Rs 9.43 crore, compared with the aggregate for all banks at Rs 12.13 crore.

Replying to a query, Kumar said corporate credit offtake in the current quarter may not be attractive given the economic conditions in the country.

"There is reasonably good offtake in retail lending and housing loans. Probably even by March 2014, we don't see much offtake in corporate. But we will see fairly good offtake in retail and agriculture," he said.

On ATM operations, he said it is awaiting the RBI's decision on charging customers for using ATMs of other banks.

He said ATM operations break even only after there are 100-125 transactions a day and SBI-owned ATMs record 225-250 hits on an average per day across the country.

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