Lifetime Achievement Award 2020: Aditya Puri, HDFC Bank
The curtain is about to fall on one of the great Indian banking careers, so it is an appropriate moment to recognize the work of Aditya Puri at HDFC.
Aditya Puri’s success since building HDFC Bank in 1994 can be measured, in part, by the quality of its absences: the absence of scandal, the absence of any credit bust and the absence of drama. Indian banking generally is not short of any of these things, lurching between dismal creditor catastrophes amid cycles of bailouts and occasional fraud-related arrests, but HDFC Bank has done nothing but grow.
And that’s the remarkable achievement: HDFC Bank under Puri has mastered the exceptionally difficult double act of having prudent risk management and routinely achieving 20% annual profit growth, as it did in the 2019/2020 financial year (24.6% in the year to March 31).
It has avoided the low-hanging fruit of lucrative but perilous lending to unsteady conglomerates, letting others take the short-term spoils and the long-term consequences, but while doing so it has somehow grown to be the biggest bank by market capitalization in the country, twice the size of State Bank of India.