29 July, New Delhi
Even as bank employees struck work on Friday on the issue, State Bank of India chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya said the process of the merger of five associate banks and Bhartiya Mahila Bank with the SBI should be over by next March.
“People have to understand that the change is inevitable. There have been strikes at many occasions but we have to educate them and take them on board,” she said on the sidelines of the launch of the SBI’s wealth management product called SBI Exclusif.
Banking operations across the country were hit on Friday as nearly a million employees of private and state-run banks struck work for a day to protest the proposed merger with SBI and the privatisation of the IDBI Bank.
To a query on completion of the merger, Bhattacharya said: “Timeline is around by the end of the financial year.”
The unions are opposed to the government’s decision to merge the State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Hyderabad with the SBI.
The merger will create a giant entity with an asset base of Rs 37 lakh crore.
Regarding SBI Exclusif, Bhattacharya said the wealth management product is targeted at the fast-growing and economically well-off segment in the country, and will initially be offered free of cost.
“SBI Exclusif customers will have access to a dedicated Relationship Manager supported by a team of investment experts to take care of all their banking and investment needs through various channels, that is, in-person, a first of its kind of e-Wealth’ channel accessed remotely via a call or video conversation, or through future ready digital channels,” she said.
The bank had launched the product in Bengaluru on a pilot basis in January, and it was launched in Delhi on Friday.