Axis Bank chief Shikha Sharma will step down in December 2018. This is two-and-a-half years before her term was due to end. She was the the longest serving woman CEO in the financial sector (since 2009).

Axis Bank said on April 9 that Sharma “had requested the board to reconsider the period of her reappointment as MD and CEO of the bank to be revised from June 1, 2018 up to December 31, 2018”.

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The board of directors of the bank have written to the Reserve Bank of India, saying that Sharma has requested them to reduce her fourth term to December 2018, instead of May 2021. The move has triggered a hunt for her successor.

The reasons for her early stepdown have not been disclosed. Many believe that it has to do with the RBI communication to the board raising questions on her reappointment for a fourth term

The first sign of a run-in with the regulator had come last month when RBI announced it had imposed a penalty of Rs 3 crore on Axis Bank for non-compliance with its directions on Income Recognition and Asset Classification (IRAC) norms back in fiscal 2016. The IRAC norms pertain to disclosing bad loans on a bank’s books.

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Sharma’s career graph

Sharma has been a CEO since 2000 when she took charge of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance. She headed it until 2009.

One of the candidates to succeed KV Kamath at ICICI Bank, Sharma then moved out to take charge of Axis Bank.

In Axis Bank, Sharma brought in multinational bankers, restructured operations to create business verticals, acquired a merchant banking firm and built up a large mutual fund business.

Her tenure at Axis Bank

The first half of her tenure witnessed shareholders being richly rewarded as the bank pursued aggressive growth. However, in the second half of her tenure, the corporate loans that helped the bank grow quickly in initial years turned out to be a drag on its earnings.

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Picture Credit: Forbes

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