But even that tells only one part of the story. In the early years of these centres – from around 2000 to the beginning of this decade – employees did mostly back-office work around verification, checking, processing and some basic IT work. Today, as Nasscom’s head of industry initiative KS Viswanathan says, they are creating technology platforms, and rapidly moving to developing products that the end users of the banks use.
For Goldman Sachs, the India centre is its second largest, after its New York headquarters, with over 6,000 employees working across all the businesses – securities, asset management, banking and the functions of risk, compliance, internal audit and human capital management. Gunjan Samtani, head of Goldman Sachs Services India, says about half of these employees are engineers who are supporting and building core platforms. “Many engineers have quant backgrounds, and are working on different financial models related to valuations and risk. The sophistication of our work has been truly inspiring,” he says. The Bengaluru centre has been at the heart of tech development for its digital bank Marcus, a major initiative in the past few years.
Most banks previously used to outsource their IT and tech work to services companies such as Accenture, TCS, Cognizant, Infosys and Wipro. But many are now bringing this work – especially new age digital work – into their own centres. Deutsche Bank has been amongst the most aggressive insourcers. Ash Malik, head of the bank’s India technology centre, says while outsourcing achieved some cost advantages, it also meant too much fragmentation of their systems. “We did not get the level of agility we wanted, we were not responding fast enough to the market, and some of the systems were not stable enough to deal with our future. We realised technology was too critical not to have as IP inside the bank,” he says.
Some years ago, Deutsche Bank used to do 15% of its tech work inhouse, and outsource the rest. Today it’s already more than 50% and the target is to take it to 80%.
Arindam Banerrji, MD of Wells Fargo India & Philippines, says Covid-19 has reinforced the need to do work inhouse. “It improves recovery capabilities. If work is too distributed, it becomes complex,” he says. Today, Wells Fargo’s India centre plays a crucial role in the delivery of most of the bank’s major tech initiatives. They do analytics to build the appropriate products. When they build an app, everything from its conceptualisation and development to its testing and management are done here.
Viswanathan says ANZ’s centre in India has been a pioneer in developing a robotic process automation (RPA) strategy, which enabled the bank to automate a number of mundane tasks. In 2017, SSON Analytics, a provider of data insights into the shared services and outsourcing industry, said RPA had enabled ANZ to reduce manual processes by 85%, and bring down the time to execute customer processes to 24 hours, from up to five days. Errors too had reduced.
Viswanathan says DBS Bank’s Hyderabad centre built its digibank app and took it global. HSBC’s India centre built its NPS (net promoter score) platform, which measures customer experience changes as manual processes are automated. The Royal Bank of Scotland centre used RPA to automate backend processes and moved the staff that was freed up to the front office, significantly improving customer service.
The work the India centres are doing will definitely have increased NPS scores for most banks, says Viswanathan.