After “If God was a Banker” and “Devil in Pinstripes, “The Suicide Banker” is the third novel I have come across on the inner workings of the banking world. But this book was sent across to me by the author himself as he seemed impressed with my unbiased book reviews. So I began reading the book in the hope that I would find something different from the earlier banking tales. Does it succeed? Let’s see.

The blurb of the book reads the following –

This is the story of a young banker whose employees believe in the motto of “Turning conventional wisdom upside down.”

Against the backdrop of financial boom and subsequent meltdown during the first decade of this century, Sumit becomes an unfortunate witness, active participant and ill – fated victim in the affairs of Ind – Credit Bank.

Over the course if life – altering events, the once blue – eyed boy is slowly but surely sucked into the dark abyss of the financial world, his dream collapsing one by one in a heap, taking a heavy toll on his personal and professional life.

Will he be able to survive?

Work pressures, corporate wars, details about the inner workings of the banking world, work – life balance issues, family pressures – the blurb prepares you for what to expect ahead.

Sumit, a suave, young and dynamic banker has spent 9 years of his life working for the government sector – State Bank of India (SBI). But when he gets an opportunity to move to a private sector enterprise, he jumps at the opportunity. His new employer – Citizen Bank is very different in every way from SBI. Whether its the opportunities, the pay, the style everything seems different. The rest of the story deals with frauds, extra marital affairs, the big bad world of corporate life, his life and challenges at another bank: Ind – Credit and much more.

First things first. Kudos to the author – Puneet Gupta for portraying the world of banking in such an amazing manner. You actually feel you are in the board meetings listening to all the financial jargons like ‘agricultural banking’, ‘credit portfolio, ‘credit franchisee’ etc. It’s like an eye opener for a lot many people on how banks disburse loans without even checking whether the customer can pay back in case of default. Obviously, the fact that the author has worked with Citicorp and ICICI has helped in shaping his understanding for the book; a fact which he has acknowledged towards the end.

The narrative is also littered with some financial jokes and quotes like these :-

‘Once a bank conducted a survey to find out whether sex is pleasure or pain. There were huge debates but no agreement. The votes were equally divided and they couldn’t reach any conclusion. Finally they approached an outsourced clerk and put the same question to him.

“Tell me, old pal, whether sex is pleasure or pain?”

Without blinking, he replied, ‘sex is pleasure’.

How can you be so sure when we are debating on this issue for so long?.’ the manager asked.

‘Had it been pain, you would have outsourced it.’ The clerk coolly replied.

But then the book isn’t without its share of problems. The flow and pace is frequently interrupted with a lot of financial jargons and statistics. A very niche kind of audience would find that kind of stuff, compelling enough.

The book is quite predictable. The corporate wars, the frauds, the ethical issues, the extra marital affairs are all been there done that kind of stuff.

Some unexplained facts –

1. What happens to Annie in the end?

2. What happens to Shalini and his son Shibu in the end?

3. What is the first chapter about? Whose this guy Joseph?

Some of the character’s are pretty strong enough. Sumit as the dynamic banker stands out. With respect to his professional life, he doesn’t tolerate any wrong doing despite many attempts by others to influence him. Shalini as his wife accepts his busy schedules. But thankfully she isn’t portrayed as one who sits and cries at home or is pretty dumb. She takes her career forward by joining the NewsFirst channel and becomes a name to reckon with. Mohit Saxena, the guru of agricultural banking is someone who can’t tolerate failure at any cost. There’s Annie Mathew whose smile and looks make Sumit go weak in the knees. And then there are a lot of others like Venkat, Anupam, Sripriya etc.

Frankly speaking the book has nothing too different from the earlier banking novels I have read.

But it could surely be a one time read for bankers, financiers, people in love with the financial world as well as ‘FRAUDSTERS’ :).

Rating – 2.5/5