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Business

Bank Staff Should Be Able To Speak Local Language: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

Lenders need to be more inclusive in their recruitment strategies and ensure that those not knowing the regional language are made to work in backend offices and not be present in customer-facing branch offices, she said.

Nirmala Sitharaman
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses the ‘Laghu Udyog Bharati Maharashtra Adhiveshan’, in Mumbai, Friday, Sept. 16, 2022. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday asked the banks in the country to ensure that the branch-level staff could speak the local language of the area. This, she said, is necessary to ensure that business needs are met. The Finance Minister also asked why a banker can’t learn a new language like Hindi in pursuit of the skills required for dealing with customers.

Lenders need to be more inclusive in their recruitment strategies and ensure that those not knowing the regional language are made to work in backend offices and not be present in customer-facing branch offices, she said.

“You are there for doing business. You are not there to cultivate certain value system into the citizens,” Sitharaman was quoted as saying by The Hindu. She was speaking at the 75th Annual General Meeting of Indian Banks’ Association in Mumbai.

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“When you have staff at the branch level who do not talk in the regional language and who are patriotic enough to say ‘hey, you don’t talk Hindi, maybe you are not Indian’ … I think, this doesn’t do any good for business,” Sitharaman said.

Sitharaman further exhorted all banks to ensure that their systems “speak” to each other for the benefit of customers. Customers transact with multiple lenders and are inconvenienced to redo an entire set of processes while starting a relationship with a new lender due to the “wall” created by a lender, Sitharaman said.

“Each of us (banks) have created our own empires. Each of us has got our own digital systems. But that does not talk to the next one,” the FM said, addressing bankers’ lobby grouping at Indian Banks Association’s annual general meeting here.

“It would be such a missed opportunity if we are sitting and thinking that I have created my own and I am happy. Whereas the fellow who deals with you is the one who feels how many walls are there between banks,” she added.

Making it clear that her request is directed at both the government-run and private banks, she said for the benefit of the customer, lenders have to ensure that their systems have to speak to each other.

Sitharaman made the suggestion while underlining the importance of creating digitally savvy banks with the right product offerings that take care of requirements for all sections including the youth and also the women.

Banks will have to play a major role in the country’s quest to transform itself into a developed nation by the time it celebrates its 100th anniversary as a free country, and the banks have to gear up for the same, she said.

They also need to ensure that web 3.0 and artificial intelligence tools are adopted for an early detection of frauds, she said, adding that the area of cyber security also needs adequate attention through the building of firewalls.

(With PTI inputs)