Even as 2015 had started on a promising note with a landmark political change sweeping the country increasing hopes of deliverance from the policy paralysis that had plagued the economy for several years, there were many other issues both global and domestic that warranted near term concern. To say the least, the year has proceeded with several developments that have yielded positive surprises and disappointments in equal measure. However, as we enter into the first quarter of 2016, business sentiment remains firmly in the positive.
While hiring conditions differed across sectors in 2015, quality remained at a premium and this is not likely to change in a hurry. On balance, Corporate India is hopeful of strong growth ahead and, given the dynamism of change in the country, finding and retaining impactful talent is only going to be more crucial for success in the times ahead.
On the policy front, landmark changes still remain in the offing as a small but vociferous opposition in parliament has held back decisions on top issues such as land acquisition and GST. However, there are several indicators of incremental progress from sector to sector. Further, the Reserve Bank of India’s decisive movement on easing interest rates was a strong boost in September and the December policy statement noted that, while obstacles remain, several indicators (though not all) were showing positive trends – including IIP, capacity utilisation and new project announcements.
Banking and Financial Services were quite the mixed bag of trends in 2015. From a returns perspective, debt and equity markets were a tough environment and hiring activity was not promising either. The spectre of bad asset quality raised its head a number of times and is not expected to go away soon. The issuance of 23 new banking licenses by the Reserve Bank ofIndia was well received but significant movement on hiring is still awaited in 2016.
Globally, banks and financial services are undergoing a tremendous change with several of the top players undergoing restructuring and cutting jobs. This had its implications for their Indian operations as well, resulting in job cuts and organisational restructuring domestically as well. This development, combined with the increased focus on NPAs and improving balance sheet health created a thematic opportunity for domestic banks and NBFCs to explore and expand teams into restructuring related business lines, predominantly over the second half of the year.
Finally, the FinTech wave disrupting the status quo globally has only just begun to take root in India and we expect this to be a trend to watch in 2016.
Across other sectors the level of optimism varies. Startups, E-Commerce and companies in the digital landscape have been a significant bright spot with unprecedented levels of investment in 2015. While there have been missteps here as well, the case for growth lies undiminished and the market for talent is likely to get more competitive. Areas such as infrastructure and power still face issues and a return to growth is likely further out.
A key trend to keenly watch in the coming year would be the migration of leadership to areas of growth within and across sectors, one that has taken root firmly in 2015.