Best domestic private bank in India 2022
Any Mumbai-based banker who says his institution aims to be the JPMorgan of India is bound to get attention. But considering the year that ICICI Bank and Rajesh Iyer, its head of private banking and wealth management, just had, it’s plausible.
Assets under management surged 70% in 2021, making ICICI’s private banking division the biggest in India. Even more impressive, though, is how ICICI excelled in virtually all segments in which it operates.
Its performance metrics in wealth management, investment advisory, asset management, corporate credit, retail credit, investment banking, venture capital, broking services, housing finance, life insurance and general insurance were impressive all around.
High net worth clients – whether leading business promoters, professionals, the self-employed, family offices or corporations – have few complaints about ICICI’s investment strategies in a turbulent year. In fact, Iyer notes, surveys of current and prospective clients propelled the bank’s brand to new heights, making ICICI Asiamoney’s pick for best domestic private bank in India in 2022.
The private bank has increased its physical presence with 11 new locations, giving it a foothold in 33 cities around the world’s second most-populous nation. Many of the new locations are in tier-two and tier-three cities.
With AUM now above the $46 billion mark, ICICI has raised its competitive game in investment research and strategy, advisory, international private banking, digitalization, client engagement, family offices and access to India’s tech unicorn boom. One stand-out is the robust growth in its family office business. AUM in that sector alone doubled in 2021 to more than $13 billion. The client base – including those with custody assets – has quadrupled since December 2020.
The most promising shift in focus for the year ahead is toward India’s homegrown tech unicorns which are making global headlines. Iyer says that these startups are maturing rapidly. Many have already attained a reasonable size even at the pre-IPO stage, putting ICICI in pole position to cater to a new generation of wealthy entrepreneurs.
The broader ICICI Bank is an industry leader in incubating and accelerating the growth of fintech startups. The bank works with founders to develop their go-to-market and grow-to-market strategies by helping to integrate them into the financial community.
This creates a virtuous cycle: ICICI helps to raise equity and debt financing for startups that develop into lucrative investment targets for bank clients.
The bank’s ambition to provide a comprehensive digital proposition really paid off in 2021. By embedding technology in all ICICI investment and banking strategies, the staff is leaving the institution’s analogue past in the rear-view mirror.
Increasingly, Iyer says, ICICI’s ultra high net worth clients want to participate by taking the institutionalized route, ideally in a fund structure. Accordingly, ICICI offers funds focused on the cross-over strategy that taps growth of both pre-IPO and late-stage startups. The strategy: generate steady returns in companies that have high visibility exit points, preferably via public markets.
The firm is intensifying efforts to partner with debt venture capital funds, non-bank financial companies, online debt marketplaces and other private capital pools. In doing so, it’s gearing up to offer a full stack of debt solutions to startup clients.