He is a Banker par excellence. A teacher who turned to banking three decades ago, he is now a successful banker who has taken over the mantle of Karnataka Bank Limited, one of the premiere private sector banks of the nation.
Senior banker Polali Jayaram Bhat, popularly known as P Jayaram Bhat, took charge as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Bank on July 14, 2009 from Ananthakrishna who will henceforth be the part-time non-executive Chairman after creating history by leading the Bank consecutively for three terms.
The Bank’s tryst with post-graduates who adorn its top posts has continued. While the erstwhile Chairman Ananthakrishna is an MSc in Mathematics, the new MD Jayaram Bhat is an MSc degree holder in Chemistry.
Fifty seven year old Bhat who hails from Polali, completed his MSc from Mysore University in 1972 with a first rank. After successfully appearing for the CAIIB examination in the year 1986, he served as a lecturer at Government Junior College, Mulki for a brief period of three months in 1972. His career in banking began after he joined Karnataka Bank Limited in 1973 as a probationary officer. In 1976 he became a Branch Manager and served various branches for 14 years. He was promoted as chief accountant at the Bank’s head office in the year 1993. Bhat was later appointed as Assistant General Manager and Deputy General Manager and was elevated to the post of Chief General Manager in 2005.
Apart from banking, his interest lies in shuttle badminton and cricket. He is also a keen listener of Carnatic classical music. Happily married to Shubha Bhat, he is blessed with a son and a daughter.
As the new MD and CEO of the Bank, Bhat has ambitious plans and a great vision for the Bank. Outlining his goals, Bhat says the Bank has targeted to achieve a business turnover of Rs 39,000 crore during the current fiscal and Rs 70,000 crore by 2013, with an average growth rate of 19 to 20 per cent.
It also targets to mobilise deposits of Rs 25,000 crore and advances of Rs 14,000 crore. The bank which earned a net profit of Rs 267 crore in 2008-09, has planned to take it to Rs 600 crore during the current fiscal, he informs. He also reveals that the bank proposes to pay a dividend of 60% for the year 2008-2009.
The new MD further wants to concentrate more on increasing credit flow and hinted that it would be a thrust area for the bank under his leadership. To give more focus on agriculture credit, the bank has set up agriculture credit cell and recruited farm specialists.
According to Bhat, the Bank proposes to increase its total advances to agricultural sector from the present 11 per cent of its total advances to the stipulated level of 18 per cent. The net NPA of the bank was 0.98 per cent while its Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) remained consistent at 13.48 per cent.
The Bank under Bhat’s leadership would lay more thrust on the small and medium enterprises sector as the yield was more in this sector. Stating that the bank was concentrating more on retail customers, he informs that separate targets had been given to branch heads to increase the CASA (current account savings account) base of the bank. Karnataka Bank has come a long way since its inception in 1924 emerging as the largest private sector banks in the country. The bank has 449 branches spread across 20 states and 2 union territories. It had already got approval from RBI to open 17 more branches and planned to open all these branches by September this year. The bank has also set a target of increasing the number of branches to 475 and its own ATMs to 200 by the end of March 2010. Karnataka Bank as a strong client base of over 3.8 million and has 71,800 shareholders. The manpower strength of the bank stands at 4900.
The Bank is now all set to scale greater heights and is poised for a stupendous performance under the dynamic leadership of Bhat in the years to come.