HSBC's Gaurav Sahgal discusses the future of Indian banking, startups, and sustainability
At TechSparks 2023, Gaurav Sahgal, MD & Head, Business Banking, HSBC India, shares how the fintech sector is rapidly evolving and the challenges and opportunities that Indian entrepreneurs face.
In a dynamic fireside chat with Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO, YourStory, at TechSparks 2023, Gaurav Sahgal, MD and Head, Business Banking, HSBC India, shared insights on the evolving landscape of banking, the burgeoning fintech sector, and the challenges and opportunities that Indian entrepreneurs face.
From his journey as a musician-turned-banker to HSBC's role in supporting startups and the future of Indian banking, Sahgal provided valuable perspectives on various topics.
“I've had the opportunity to interact with numerous fintechs, and I agree that various industries have experienced rapid innovation. However, it's evident that the digitisation of our country, the India stack, has uniquely facilitated significant digital transformation, particularly in the fintech sector. I've always believed that fintech is a powerful enabler for banks,” he said.
Sahgal appreciated the hard work that has gone into innovating technology, and said “we must collaborate and explore how we can enhance the services we offer as a banking service provider through the adoption of such technology”.
He shared his unique journey from being a musician to becoming an “accidental banker”. He expressed a deep love for interacting with people, understanding their business models, and helping them add value to their ventures. This passion eventually led him to the world of banking, where he discovered the power of enabling entrepreneurs through financial services.
HSBC's focus on Startups
One of the highlights of Sahgal's discussion was HSBC's commitment to supporting startups. He mentioned that the bank had allocated a significant portion of its funds to assist startups.
This move is especially crucial in a country like India, where the startup ecosystem is thriving, and access to capital can make or break a company's success. The bank's focus on understanding entrepreneurs' needs, advising them on the right time to seek debt, and helping them expand into new markets demonstrates a holistic approach to supporting startups.
Climate tech and sustainability
Sahgal also highlighted HSBC's commitment to climate tech and sustainability. He acknowledged startups' critical role in addressing climate change and emphasised the need to encourage innovative minds to develop solutions that can save our planet.
By allocating over a billion dollars to support climate tech initiatives, HSBC aims to contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally conscious future.
Future of lending in India
The conversation then shifted to the Indian lending landscape. Sahgal acknowledged the fierce competition in the lending space, with numerous players entering the market. However, he refrained from predicting a single winner in this competitive space but focused on the vast opportunities available in India's MSME sector, which constitutes a significant portion of the country's GDP.
“At HSBC, we've been clear about the persona we're focused on, who we want to attract, and how we can support them in terms of debt, lending, and our overall approach. Every business needs to figure out its target audience at some point in its life cycle, and given the size of the pie, it's a market we can't afford to ignore.
“In the end, it's about having the right strategy, ethical products, responsible dispensation methods, effective monitoring, and ethical collection practices to ensure sustainability,” he adds.
Shaping Indian banking with HSBC
Sahgal's insights into the future of Indian banking were particularly enlightening. He lauded the country's strong regulatory framework, the robustness of public sector banks, and the entry of international investors into the Indian market.
HSBC, as a global bank, aims to play a pivotal role in the country's banking sector by offering a comprehensive suite of services, catering to retail, wealth management, and wholesale banking. Sahgal firmly believes that India's banking industry is well regulated, and is poised for a bright future with a focus on strong fundamentals.
Sahgal and his team are eager to engage with startups, answer questions, and explore potential collaborations. Entrepreneurs seeking to connect with him can approach him on LinkedIn, his preferred platform for engagement.