SBI chief reiterates focus on retail clients, term loans

State Bank of India will only get into loans with a slightly higher risk after it has exhausted all opportunities to lend to the best and least-risky companies, Pratip Chaudhuri, chairman of the country's largest commercial bank, said on Sunday.

Further, SBI wants to focus more on term loans as these are not only more paying but also the working capital space is too crowded, Chaudhuri said in an interview to Hindu BusinessLine.

His statements come at a time when the bank is saddled with bad loans aggregating to about Rs55,000 crore due to the economic slowdown.

Chaudhuri said efficiency in deposit gathering was being frittered away as loans were not being priced right. That's why SBI wants to lend to top-notch companies and lay more emphasis on term loans.

''We can have very high growth in deposits if we take bulk deposits.

But we have scrupulously stayed away from the bulk deposit market for almost a year now. Bulk deposits comprise just 1.1 per cent of our total deposits. Most of the public sector banks have 20-35 per cent of their total deposits in the form of bulk deposits,'' he said.

''We have incentivised our staff to get more deposits. We have changed the work processes. We have entrusted even our clerical staff with powers to pass cheques and facilitate transactions. So the customer doesn't have to wait on two or three people at the branch to complete a transaction. In the front office itself, there are people with (cheque) passing powers of up to Rs4 lakh. Now, 95 per cent of the transactions are up to Rs4 lakh. So, they get transacted at the front office itself,'' he said.

"Our deposits are entirely retail. This has come with a lot of careful planning, thought and lot of effort,'' Choudhuri said, detailing the various steps the bank has taken to enhance the experience of retail customers.