Veteran banker Deepak Parekh on Thursday said the biggest challenge for him was choosing to be a non-executive chairman of HDFC 13 years ago when he turned 65, a decision which he “still regrets, but is also happy about”.
In a fireside chat with BCG India Chairman Janmejaya Sinha on the third and final day of the Global Fintech Summit, Parekh also said that he has no such plans as he does not have the “thick skin to be a politician”.
He was responding to a query on whether he has any plans to enter politics.
While mentioning about his decision to relinquish his position as the chairman in 2010, Parekh said the HDFC board as well as his family were against the move.
“But I chose to do so because had I stayed on, it would have closed the door on my the next-in-line leadership to grow and move to the corner room in the Ramon House (HDFC headquarters in south Mumbai),” Parekh, now 78, said.
“As a result, which I regret to some extent now, for the past 13 years ending June 30 this year, I didn’t draw a single penny in salary, nor got any ESOP, which 4,000 of our employees hugely benefited from,” he said.
“But that was a conscious call and I am happy that I did what I did,” he said.
He attributed the zero salary and ESOP to the internal policy of HDFC, where he joined as the tenth employee after it was founded by his uncle HT Parekh 46 years ago well after his retirement.
“No age or time is bad enough to start a business or venture. All you need is a good idea and clarity of thought and perseverance to succeed,” Deepak Parekh said.
Parekh, however, ruled out starting a new venture, and said he wants to work more for the HDFC Foundation.
Parekh has been a trouble shooter for successive governments and is also credited to have created the home loan market.
He said his biggest act of trouble shooting was the rescue of the scam-hit Satyam Computer Services in 2009.
Before diversifying the group into each new segment, “we looked at the borrower or the individual in his different stages of life,” he said and as the businesses grew, the bank entered personal loans, life, general and medical insurance and finally the education loan sectors.
“When we pioneered home loan, the board didn’t want to own more than 25 per cent in HDFC Bank as our equity capital was only Rs 50 crore and net worth was only Rs 100 crore.
“So, the board said after outrightly rejecting the idea that if you insist to launch a bank, we can only own 25 per cent, given our capital,” he said.
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