Who is the youngest Crorepati in India
Karam Hinduja wants to prove that he became the head of a private bank not only because of his parentage
He doesn't like ties, and he also invites customers home once: The new CEO of Hinduja Bank Switzerland wants to double the assets under management with Indian values.
He receives in a T-shirt and a loose jacket. And says: "Today I am dressed more formally than usual." It quickly becomes clear: Karam Hinduja, the new CEO of Hinduja Bank Switzerland, does not value etiquette for etiquette's sake. That has to do with his age, the offspring of a widespread Indian family of entrepreneurs is just 29 years old and thus probably the youngest head of a Swiss private bank.
But it also reminds of the way he wants to deal with his customers and employees. In-house - the Hinduja Bank employs around 60 people in Geneva, Zurich, Lugano, Dubai and London - are all used. And he prefers to meet his customers for long walks in nature. It can happen that he invites her to his home. «You are like an extended family to us. This also corresponds to the Indian understanding of hospitality, ”he says.
Because the Hinduja Bank Switzerland is inconceivable without the reference to the Indian subcontinent. It is part of the globally active Hinduja Group, which was founded in India in the 1920s (today a Pakistani nationality) and subsequently became active in such diverse business fields as vehicle construction, the health sector, IT, the oil trade and banking.
The Swiss private bank was founded in 1994 by Srichand Parmanand Hinduja, Karam's grandfather, in Geneva. The 84-year-old family patriarch, or S.P. for short, is not involved in the day-to-day operations of the bank, but is still the sole shareholder and is still omnipresent in the background: “We talk on the phone every day and of course we discuss our visions together. For me he is both a role model and a mentor, ”says Karam.
Twice as much wealth in three years
For a proud entrepreneurial dynasty like the Hinduja Group, it goes without saying that strategically important positions in the respective companies are filled with family members, notably board memberships. Karam is the only family member currently in an operational management position within the family business, but he would hardly have become CEO - and certainly not at his age - if his name wasn't Hinduja.
The passionate tennis player values the fact that the name alone is not a guarantee for a career. Ability, performance and a good education are decisive. Karam's career corresponds almost ideally to that of the offspring of wealthy family dynasties, of which there are some at the Lake Geneva arch: He went to school at the noble Aiglon boarding school in the Vaudois Alps, studied at Columbia University in New York and then founded the media platform Timeless Media.
He has been managing Hinduja Bank Switzerland since March, but the personnel is only now being published. "We had different priorities than public communication during the height of the corona pandemic," he says. The customers were of course in the picture.
For these, the bank, with its headquarters in the best location in downtown Geneva, manages assets amounting to around CHF 2.5 billion - in comparison with the large Geneva private banks, it is a modest player. In three years, according to the new CEO's goal, assets under management should be five billion.
Never flown in such a long time
How does that work? So far, the bank has primarily focused on asset management, now Hinduja wants to rely on a “fundamentally different strategy”. In other words: He plans to target entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas and "help them to implement their growth visions" - especially if they want to expand to Asia. As the first and only Swiss private bank in Indian ownership, they enjoy a particularly high level of credibility.
The fact that the London-born Karam Hinduja never lived in India and can only speak the official language of Hindi is not a disadvantage. More important is the understanding and embodiment of the values of the Vedic culture that kept him connected to his roots. “Nobody has ever accused me of not being Indian enough,” he says and laughs. In any case, at most half of all customers have a direct connection to India. The others would primarily see the profitable investment opportunities in the emerging giant state.
Although Karam Hinduja grew up in Switzerland, he first has to get used to local life again after his return and brush up on his French. The last few months have been particularly intense because of the new function and the pandemic, and at the same time he has probably never boarded a plane for such a long period of time, he says.
How does that go with the repeatedly emphasized values such as sustainable development or respect for nature? Hinduja recognizes that his frequent travel is "not ideal" in this regard. You just have to be sufficiently aware of its effects, he says - and hopes for technological developments. "It would be great if Tesla built planes!"
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