We will establish SBM Bank as a customer focused and innovative bank: Siby Sebastian, CEO – State Bank of Mauritius

Siby Sebastian Bank of Mauritius

I wanted to learn how banks are transforming themselves to meet the expectations of consumers in the connected world. Meet Siby Sebastian, CEO of State Bank of Mauritius, India.

What changes do you believe consumers are expecting from a bank in digital era?

Customers are changing their expectations of everyone. Especially banks in digital era. The Connected consumers wants banking services that integrate with their connected life.

This is true of all segments but especially true with the fastest growing segment (millennials) and the most profitable consumer segment (wealth management). Banks need to understand and respond to them. If they don’t, the threat of disruption from niche Fintech service providers like PayTm will become a reality. Banks which have walked the digital journey think they understand what is expected. They’ve adapted to new media and communication styles but miss nuances that only a native speaker can pick up. So bankers who design and deliver business and consumer banking products have their work cut out.

Fintechs have addressed some of these needs in niche products, but they need banks for the whole picture as much as banks need them.

Let’s take a closer look at these expectations. Most of these appear to have a consumer bias.

Know me:

Know enough about me to offer services I can use, when I need them.

Respect me:

Let me see that you think of me as a person, a valuable human being. Be honest with me: I know that mistakes happen. What I can never accept is excuses, or evasion, or downright lying.

Listen to me: I expect to be paid attention to, no matter what media I am using.

Show I can trust you: When you make a promise, keep it.

Siby Sebastian with team Bank of Mauritius
Siby Sebastian with team Bank of Mauritius, India

Work the way I work :

Connected customers have become used to social media, with “always-on” and immediate response. They expect banks to work the same way. Give me products I want to use : One of the biggest challenges facing banks is the novelty and innovation of Fintech offerings.

Empower me:

Give me access to all the tools I need and want. Give me the ability to help myself when I want to, without having to ask for help. They expect the banks to be the kind of bank, they want to work with.. be worthy of our respect. And let me see that you care about my community, and my world.

Siby Sebastian Chief Executive Officer at State Bank of Mauritius - India
Siby Sebastian, Chief Executive Officer at State Bank of Mauritius – India

What are your plans as a CEO of State Bank of Mauritius?

We will be building SBM Bank franchise into a large and respectable bank in India, leveraging the unique position of the SBM Parent brands preeminence in the Asia-Africa trade corridor. In the next two years timeframe we will establish SBM Bank as a customer focused and innovative bank which also genuinely addresses the social aspects of banking.

We will grow the assets size, revenues and lead the IT Transformation for the bank using the India tech advantage.

We are in the last stages of our planning with regard to create an Indian wholly owned subsidiary bank and merge the current Operations of SBM Bank, Mauritius into a robust WOS banking institution under the SBM Bank brand. We have worked on a clear business strategy and will be quickly building a WOS with strong performance culture, smart and innovative execution. We will also create a strong leadership team who are the torch bearer of strategise once, execute daily doctrine.

You were Head of Technology at ICICI Housing finance. How beneficial is it for you as a CEO to have in-depth knowledge in banking technology from your past experiences?

Banking industry is seriously impacted by the innovative use of new technologies and new technology-enabled fintech companies and banks which are lead by a digital first strategy are seriously disrupting traditional banks by leveraging technology advancements to create new businesses, improving efficiency and reach to a large set of customers otherwise, was not accessible. I believe that in this digital era, all the CEOs and boards driving growth agenda need to make conscious efforts to become early adopters of technology advancements .

The time I spent working in ICICI Housing finance company as Head of Technology helped me to understand that early adoption of technology can create better and more enjoyable customer experiences, engagement models and delivering at a significantly lower cost than the established traditional players. It also helps in offering better products or services to customers and provides an outstanding ROI for shareholders and investors.

Technology is mission-critical and crucial to the survival of a banking business today.

It is important for all CEOs to understand the role of technology in business transformation and growth if they want to succeed in the new digital age. Successful use of latest technological advancements will positively impact corporate strategy, policies, operations, competitive landscape, revenue opportunities employee collaboration and customer experience.

How do you see India as a market and hows the IT transformation happening?

India’s overall business environment has improved and its on the retrieval path supported by sound government policies and structural reforms. It has played a significant role in withstanding global uncertainties and dynamics of the rest of the world. Banking sector plays a critical role in driving the countries economy by providing a diverse range of financial and allied services.

We will witness a very dynamic business environment in the banking sector in terms of innovation, high competition, consolidation and increasing use of alternative multiple channels to name a few.IT transformations and wide use of digital technologies will be one of the major drivers for the growth of this sector in India as well.

A wide range of financial products will increasingly get developed and sold using digital delivery platforms to millions of customers in India. It will also help to reduce the cost of transaction and bring higher efficiency and greater reach in the financial eco system.

With the governments hard push to reduce the economies dependence on cash, the increased focus on tech adoption promise to take the banking sector on a path of rapid growth.

Siby Sebastian

With over 20 years of experience, give us some leadership tips

An organization to succeed, and to sustain such successes, it has to groom multiple level of leadership.

The future is driven by the young leaders. Organizations (and its current leaders) need to focus on grooming its young/inexperienced leaders to be more mature and successful. On the other hand young leaders need to be open for changes, challenges to inspire team and achieve goals.

One great differentiator for a leader from the rest is clarity of challenges – what you would like to achieve irrespective of situation. While being adaptive to the situation, leader has a clear focus on end result no matter how frustrating and disappointing, the situation is.

For being successful as a leader in today’s challenging environment below 4 is absolutely essential

Team Spirit & Groupie Attitude

Successful leaders travels their journey with their team : inspiring them, instilling a team/togetherness feeling. Basically, s/he carries ‘I am one of us’ rather than ‘I am above you all’ attitude.

Do not compromise quality for anything:

“You have to be clear about what you’re selling /offering from the very beginning. You can’t compromise your primary product for a quick buck. Always look for how you can adapt with the market.

If you didn’t see a change, you would immediately change your approach and start over.

Never get discouraged by the setbacks:

Just use them as fuel. You have to need success more than you need to sleep.

“Everyone wants to know what the big secret to ‘winning at life’ is. But there is no secret. It’s just plain hard work.

If you want to be a winner, here you go:

You have to turn your wants into needs. You will win when you need to succeed more than you need to sleep, more than you need to eat or drink water to survive. You will win when you need success more than you need acceptance from others.


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