Asha Rana Adhikary
Deputy Chief Executive Officer
Asha Rana Adhikary is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Sunrise Bank. Adhikary has more than 33 years of banking experience starting her career as an Accounting Assistant at Stanford University, California, USA in 1985. She subsequently was Joint Account Officer at Rastriya Banijya Bank Nepal, thereafter joining the Himalayan Bank where she worked for 14 years.
In 2007, Adhikary joined Sunrise Bank just two months prior to its official launch as part of its core team. She has also served as Acting CEO when needed in her 13 years with Sunrise Bank.
Additionally Adhikary is the Board Member of National Banking Institute, National Council Member of Confederation of Nepalese Industries and elected Executive Member of Management Association of Nepal. She also plays a key role in the women development programmes organised by FNCCI, CNI, etc.
Adhikary holds a Masters degree in Business Administration with major in Finance from Tribhuvan University. In an interview with B360’s Ankita Jain, she recalls her work experiences, and shares her views on the banking industry and more specifically the Sunrise Bank. Excerpts from the interview:
What has you career in the banking sector been like?
I come from an era when there were no computers in our country. I got first-hand experience of the computer while working in US. When I returned to Nepal, I got the opportunity to work with a government bank. Later, I got exposure on how a joint venture bank works while I was with the Himalayan Bank as it was a joint venture bank with Habib Bank of Pakistan. With Sunrise Bank, I joined before the bank was launched and that has been an entirely different learning experience.
What changes have you witnessed in the development of Sunrise Bank over the years?
From zero to Rs 86 billion in deposit, I have seen it all. Sunrise Bank is growing very fast. The loan book has reached Rs 81 billion and the number of customers has crossed six lakhs. All these are major developments of the bank. Now we are a brand with 130 branches and 50 branchless banking. We have our presence not only within the country but also outside the country for remittance. Further, automation, digitalisation have taken shape and we are now an established bank. In terms of acquisition, we have already acquired Narayani National Finance and we are in the process of acquiring Srijana Finance.
Focusing majorly on the service aspect, the bank is customising products and services to meet customer need. Also, competition is cut throat, we need to be a step ahead to survive in the market. We were the first bank in the country to start our own call center service. Now it has become the “The Bank with Voice”. We also introduced a very simple but innovative product called Missed Call Banking for first time in the banking industry in Nepal. This product has had overwhelming response from the customers. The center of this product is banking service even without internet.
How strong is the bank’s cross border services?
There are correspondent banks of Sunrise Bank outside the country. In many countries we have our representatives while in a few we have tie ups as well. We provide cross border services in terms of remittance. There are around 10 countries where we have our presence for remittance. And we will be adding three more countries to the list this year. Within the country, we have 7,000 remittance payment locations. Within a month, this will increase to 15,000.
As a woman banker in Nepal, how difficult is it to reach the top position?
I was always encouraged and supported by my family members who have a strong education portfolio. This made my journey easier. Also, I have always prioritised things. During office hours, work is my first priority. We need to balance our work and personal life. As a female banker, I might have lost several opportunities but the ones I grabbed, I succeeded at it. My decision to join Sunrise Bank was the most challenging of all as I had to coin a brand out of it. And I am glad that as a team we did it.
How do you see the loan book growing and the way forward?
The loan book is growing reaching Rs 81 billion is no less a wonder. Talking about microfinance, we have several products to cater that. One such product is women entrepreneurship loan which is a subsidised loan for women nationwide. And we have been aggressively promoting the product. We have also tie up with different organisations like CNI through which we offer subsidised loans.
I believe we are one of the first banks to have a separate department for agriculture and deprived sector. This service is available not only through different branches but also through branchless banking. In terms of the deprived sector, we have provided loan to more than 7,200 customers and through the agriculture loan, more than 6,900 customers are benefitted.
We will soon add 26 more branches. And we are expecting approval on 20-25 branches more by the end of this fiscal year. Talking about branchless banking, we have 50 at present and we are planning to double it as early as possible. On the other hand, the number of ATMs and offsite ATMs are increasing massively.