How do you see the Indian life insurance sector?
I see the Indian life insurance sector quite positively. See, the country’s life insurance sector is under- penetrated at the moment. If things like industrialisation, financialisation and urbanisation grow, the life insurance will also grow.
And if everything grows, the insurance sector will also grow accordingly. We have to keep in mind that life insurance supports infrastructure and long-term asset creation.
I mean life insurance is a business which provides long-term fund.
However, innovation is going to be a game changer for the industry going forward as it will embolden people and demand and supply both will get simplified.
What is your agenda and focus for the company?
I believe that you must have your basics right. If you do all your basics right, then you will have the right product in place. Digitally, we will become sounder. And on the front of operational efficiency, we will continue to do better. We will try to be having best persistency. Whatever good work has been done by my predecessor, I will try to take them forward. I would like to see my company as the best life insurer in the private sector in terms of persistency and other such parameters.
How is your performance in 2017-18 in terms of premium and policies and market share?
Though financial figures are yet to come, I can only say at the moment that in terms of individual rated premium, the company has grown by roughly 30 per cent in the year gone by.
We have decided not to be so aggressive in In the group fund management business segments, and we will be focusing more on individual business.The reason being that group fund management business segments are like term deposits for one year and where you need to pay interest rate every year.
Your predecessor had said, SBI is will be keen acquisition, will you pursue this actively?
For acquisition, we will look at opportunities which are good in price. We are not hungry for acquire a company at any cost. For us, there is no desperation. The only thing that if we get good valuation, then we are open to it.
When you are launching your Baharain operations? Does the fact that you were in Baharain will help you managing the business better?
We are likely to announce it in a month’s time. A couple of persons have already been appointed. We are waiting for an approval to come from the local regulator there.
I have myself worked as a head of the SBI’s branch in Dubai from where I was also looking after the bank’s business in Doha and other neighbouring places. There is a good Indian population, numbering 4.5 lakh, are living there.
Do you think SBI Life shares has done badly in the Indian bourses?
We will continue to do whatever marketing that is expected from us so that shareholders of the company value the company and performance rightly. We will bring lots of value and quality to the company. We will work on our basics and ensure that our basics are right.
How would like to increase your top line and bottom line of the company?
In terms of topline, we will be looking at a growth of upwards of 30 per cent with our current arrangements in place.
You have been a banker all along your professional career and life insurance is a different business, how will you manage the business?
The basics of all the financial organisations are the same. According to me, the basics of a financial institution is to do what is best for the customer, to offer the right product at a right price, having a right distribution channel. These things are there in the banking channel too.
Then there is actuarial, marketing and investment teams too in the banking sector. In my earlier banking assignment I was part of the bank with 13,000 branches.
For example as a banker you are investing into a company, then you will have to analyse its financials well. Same theory applies in the insurance sector too. As a banker, we understand what kind of products to be offered for the market.
In a similar vein, at Insurance company too, you will have to design proper Ulip and other products. I don’t see any difficulty while working for an insurance sector. In fact, in my new assignment, I’m learning. But I feel that I’m learning was happening at a faster pace for me here than the learning which was happening when I was at a bank. So, I feel very privileged and I will try my level best.