Exide Industries’ high brand equity has played a major role in helping its Bangalore-based insurance company...
Exide Industries’ high brand equity has played a major role in helping its Bangalore-based insurance company to spread to places beyond South India in the last six months, says Exide Life Insurance MD & CEO Kshitij Jain. ING Vysya Life Insurance was renamed Exide Life Insurance in May after Exide Industries acquired 100% stake in the private life insurer last year. In an interview with Mithun Dasgupta, Jain says that more than 1,000 sales managers have been recruited across India in the last two months to strengthen the agency channel. Excerpts:
Six months after the company changed its name and entered into a new brand identity, what has been your experience so far in establishinging the brand and bringing more customers?
It has been an exciting journey since our rebranding in May. The new brand name has seen a positive acceptance from all stakeholders — customers, staffers and distribution partners. Our ad campaigns got positive feedback and through our customer-contact programme, we have reached out to over 1,00,000 customers. The company now also features in the top-10 most-trusted life insurance brands in India. Topline growth in the April-September period has been robust with the total premium growing 16% y-o-y. New business premium at Rs 262 crore grew 28% y-o-y in the period.
About 28% new business premium growth of the company in H1FY15 was substantially higher than the private life industry average of 10% in the same period. What factors contributed to this growth for the company?
There are various factors that contributed to our growth, including product proposition, customer value and distribution.
The brand, Exide Life Insurance, stands tall on four pillars of being dependable, responsive, dynamic and foresighted. These values are based on customer centricity and, hence, make us stand out in the insurance space.
We focused on the existing customers and tapped them for more business, as we see immense opportunity there. Additionally, our tied agency contributed to 70% of the businesses. Over 1,000 sales managers were recruited across the country in the last two months and we are further strengthening this core channel.
We also saw an aggressive growth through alliances (brokers and corporate agents). The cooperative bank channel remains an important distribution channel.
The company had said earlier that it would expand business outside south by leveraging the strong brand heritage of Exide Industries. What has been the progress so far and what are the other growth strategies?
One of the core benefits of sporting Exide Life Insurance name is that it comes with a brand recognition advantage. In south, where we have invested in building presence and distribution, we have demonstrated our ability by becoming one of the top five players. We intend to replicate this success to start in the east and eventually in other regions. We started by building our footprints in the east, a geography in which Exide enjoys high brand equity. We are opening 14 offices in the east and south this year.
Exide Industries had said its long-term plan was to bring strategic foreign investment in its insurance business. Any progress on that front especially when the government is planning to get the insurance Bill passed to raise the FDI limit?
The industry at this stage needs long-term capital for growth and expansion which FDI can bring. FDI will help the industry increase the presence in India. Our company is well capitalised at 283% solvency ratio and is, therefore, in no hurry for a foreign investor.
Any plan for IPO in next 2-3 years?
We do not need to raise capital in the short term and will evaluate such options in future.
What are the company’s current product portfolio and product mix? How many new products you plan to launch? Will there be more Ulip products?
We always had a strong traditional product portfolio with a consistent bonus track record. Our product portfolio is largely focused on products that promote disciplined savings for the long term. We are prudent with our customer money and our products are designed to give stable returns and fair value over the long term. After our rebranding earlier this year, we launched ‘Exide Life Assured Gain Plus’. This product is in line with our philosophy of offering long-term insurance benefits with protection and guarantee. With the launch of this traditional plan, we continue to keep our promise of helping customers prepare financially. We are also planning to launch three more products in the current fiscal.