India's best domestic bank 2019: Kotak Mahindra Bank
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India's best domestic bank 2019: Kotak Mahindra Bank

Kotak Mahindra Bank

Dipak Gupta, Joint MD, Kotak Mahindra Bank.jpg
Dipak Gupta, Kotak Mahindra Bank

What makes Kotak Mahindra Bank so good? Is it that it never seems to have a bad year? That its long-term strategic decisions tend to be good ones – in stark contrast to some of its peers?

Or perhaps it is the quality of senior management figures like joint managing director Dipak Gupta; head of corporate, institutional and investment banking KVS Manian; and group executive vice-chairman Uday Kotak.

It is rarely a first-mover, but always seems to wind up becoming an expert. It isn’t as big as some private-sector banks but then size, as determined by market value, isn’t everything.

Its shares outperformed those of its main rivals over the course of the review period, while net profit for the first nine months of 2018 rose 16.9% year on year – faster than any other first-tier lender.

Kotak Mahindra Bank is one of a trio of institutions that dominates wealth management, and was quick to spot the huge and enduring possibilities in distressed debt. The full-service lender is strong in offshore funds, one of the largest domestic custodians and an important provider of financial services to SMEs.

It has long been a pioneer in digital, being one of the first to launch banking services on WhatsApp and attracting over one million subscribers in the three months after its launch.

Then there’s investment banking. Providing world-class advisory to India’s largest companies, as well as to multinationals operating in Asia’s third-largest economy, has been integral to the Kotak brand from day one. In 2018, its team topped the IPO rankings, completing eight stock sales worth $153 million, and it was involved in many of the year’s biggest rights issues, block trades and qualified institutional placements.

A highly impressive financial institution that is at the peak of its powers, and getting better all the time.