Awards for Distinction 2019 – Best Private Bank – Digital Innovation & Services

Best Private Bank Digital Innovation & Services


IDFC First Bank

Best Private Bank – Digital Innovation & Services

Vikas Sharma

head – wealth management solutions, wealth management, IDFC FIRST Bank

Tejas Maniar

platforms head – digital solutions, IDFC FIRST Bank

Winners rationale

In an industry that is traditionally bogged down by legacy systems and existing operational inefficiencies, private banks that adopt a truly digital approach in serving HNW clients are the exception and can be easily singled out from the pack. IDFC FIRST Bank is one such firm. Despite its youth — it was the result of a merger between IDFC Bank and Capital First in late 2018 — the bank by 2019 had already demonstrated an elevated level of professionalism and digital delivery that set it apart from other banks, not just in onshore India but also Asia Pacific.

The bank’s commitment to being digital-led grew from the conscious decision to do away with its physical infrastructure, after realising that digital capabilities would enable the firm to deliver wealth management products and services to its clients in a much shorter time-to-market. In 2019, the risky decision paid off: despite tumultuous Indian market conditions, the bank’s AUM grew 24% in just under seven months, making it the fastest-growing bank in the country. Supported by other digital tools, RM headcount effectively doubled, and the number of family clients increased by almost 50% in the same timeframe.

A major roadblock for most onshore Indian wealth managers is the necessity to deal with disparate regulatory bodies. In IDFC FIRST’s case, the firm was required to deal with at least four watchdogs to conduct its daily operations, which potentially translated into a quadrupling of the number of forms and KYC processes to clear, resulting in significant time wasted. IDFC FIRST was able to anticipate this by using technology to onboard prospective clients digitally, minimalising the back-and-forth and time needed to satisfy the four separate bodies.

Onboarding, it turns out, only scratched the surface of IDFC FIRST’s digital capabilities. From regular portfolio reviews to having its tech tools assist in transactions, IDFC FIRST is of the view not only that automation can speed up manual tasks, but that standardised processes will ensure that technology omits any human-led biases and errors that could interfere with portfolio and investment recommendations. As a result, IDFC FIRST’s business-as-usual is paperless, online, and convenient.

Despite its young operational age, IDFC FIRST has demonstrated that it has what it takes to be a promising leader in digital innovation within the private banking industry.

IDFC First is Asian Private Banker’s Best Private Bank – Digital Innovation & Services for 2019.

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