Interview with CA.Shalini Warrier, Chief Operating Officer (COO) , The Federal Bank Ltd.

CA. Shalini Warrier, having more than 25 years of banking experience is the current Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Federal Bank Ltd., she is a member of our Institute and was a first rank holder in CA final exam. She is also a Certified Associate of Indian Institute of Bankers.

She has extensive experience working with Standard Chartered Bank in multiple disciplines across various geographies that include India, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and United Arab Emirates, Ms. Warrier was the CEO and Head of Consumer Banking of SCB in Brunei. She has first hand global experience in Branch Banking, Process Management, Service Quality and Client Experience, Project Management, Operations, Technology, and Compliance with special emphasis on Client Due Diligence and Anti Money Laundering.


 Q  Ma'am you're a qualified member of the CA family, and you went into the banking field and excelled at it, can you share your inspiration to choose the banking field over any other employment or practice ?

 When I qualified as a Chartered Accountantthere was a lot of excitement happening in the banking industry, particularly because there was a combination of local banks and foreign banks going on and it was evident that some amount of privatization would happen in the near future. The banking industry was pretty dynamic and booming, that was one of the main reasons for my choice.The other thing was that, I had done my one year of industrial training in a manufacturing entity and having seen one year of manufacturing I just thought that finance in a manufacturing industry is a little bit of an allied activity and not at the core of it. Manufacturing will always have manufacturing at the core of it, whereas in banking, finance is at the core of it.Whichever part of banking we take there is something of finance in it. So the combination of fact that the industry was opening up plus the fact that in any other industry finance tends to be more of an allied activity and not at the core of it, further I was not very keenon so I was more excited about joining the banking industry.

 Q  “Bank jobs generally come with a lot of responsibility and stress, how do you manage work life and personal life gracefully, has it ever been a challenge "

I have never considered it as stress,as we speak the banking sector is going through its own set of turmoil,but if you let that overcome and overpower you, then you can get frustrated and feel rejected. For me there is no such thing as stress .Yes there are stressful situations,but that just need to be handled by everyone. So I think stress is not a factor hereand regarding work-life balance,I don’t think there is a concept of work-life balance,it is really about prioritization. When I am at work,my priority is my work and I pay my full attention on it and when I am outside my work doing something with friends or family, that becomes the priority.So I make sure that I have compartments well identified and I prioritize that and then I give my entire focus and attention on it.

 Q  Both banker and bank Auditor are under a lot of pressure from the regulators, as we are gearing up for the bank audit what would be your advice to us students   

I think as bankers are under scrutiny so are auditors, it calls for a much higher level of responsibility and accountability from us as professionals. As a banker for more than 20-25years I thought that it would be best to explain in the perspective of what as a banker I would like to see when somebody comes for audit .I would like to give an acronym for 'AUDIT' in which A stands for ‘Attitude’,U stands for ‘Understanding’,D stands for ‘Discipline’ I stands for ‘Integrity’, and T for ‘Technical Know-How’. ‘Attitude’, means you should approach the bank audit with the right attitude,the right attitude of making sure that collectively we work together between the banking community and the audit community to make the banking industry a lot more robust,a lot more stable, a lot more so that we can collectively stand the scrutiny of regulators and of the public. The attitude that I expect from auditors is collaboration and complete care and attention to the concept of Independence. Next isU’ for ‘Understanding’,you should approach the audit with an understandingof banking in its entirety, not just accounting and auditing. Next ‘D’ is for ‘Discipline’, by Discipline it would mean that you must have a checklist of what all you need to cover,you have limited time and you have immense pressure from various institutions, your own organization,banks etc. Unless you have a checklist you will be struggling regarding your time lines. Next is ‘I’ for ‘Integrity’,it stands for honesty, truthfulness and accuracy of one’s actions. It is the foundation on which the entire profession exists. Lastly ‘T’ is for ‘Technical know-how’,it comes out in conjunction with understanding as mentioned before. Unless you have equipped yourself with the technical know-how and keep on enhancing the technical know-how you will struggle to do an effective audit.


 Q  As a rank holder in CA exams and a very successful leader what would be you advice to us CA students ?

I think you students have to recognize that you are going through the CA course at a time when you are lucky to have wealth of information and it is really huge compared to when I was doing my CA, we didn’t have smart phones, google, Wikipedia or any of the like. My first Advice would be,this profession demands a lot of focus and discipline; it has demanded it in the past and continues to do the same even now. Keep very focused and I don’t think focused means that you become very workaholic or concentrate only on studies because I think there is an outside perspective that needs to be taken care of and programmes like these helps a lot but focus and discipline is absolutely imperative without that you could be swayed by extraneous and external forces.My Second advice is, use this as an opportunity to do a lot of networking and making contacts in the industry as a whole, because that will help you when you are stuck with something and you will have an opportunity to reach out to your peers within the fraternity .Unlike students who do MBA, lot of CA students tend to be introverts because the course is such that you can literally sit at home and do it all by yourself and that takes a lot of opportunities away from us. So when you enter the corporate life, we have to devote a little bit of time to do networking. Programs like these are very useful and would really help.So keep focused , discipline and do some amount of networking.

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