"At Bajaj Allianz Life, our employees have always been our top priority, pandemic or no pandemic. As the country went into the first lockdown, we ensured that we set up the work from home set-up for almost all our employees. All Business Continuity Processes went online, and we empowered our employees and partners with digital tools to ensure they were able to respond to our customer."
The Financial Year 2021 has been one of the toughest years for us, just like for other industries. We encountered a whole new set of unexpected challenges brought about by COVID-19. However, despite the many trials and tribulations resultant of the global pandemic, it’s heartening to have successfully navigated through the new normal. This wouldn’t have been possible without the team and the various innovations, initiatives, and strategic changes we did.
As a team, we were able to tackle this complex environment with exceptional resilience and commitment, which is indicative of Bajaj Allianz Life’s strength of character. The year saw us introduce and adopt several innovative policies and processes to not only ensure that our customers’ Life Goals remained on track, but ensured the team’s wellbeing as well.
At Bajaj Allianz Life, our employees have always been our top priority, pandemic or no pandemic. As the country went into the first lockdown, we ensured that we set up the work from home set-up for almost all our employees. All Business Continuity Processes went online, and we empowered our employees and partners with digital tools to ensure they were able to respond to our customers’ evolving needs in an effective manner. Furthermore, considering how the new environment was developing it became imperative to ensure the teams’ wellbeing. Therefore, we introduced policies and programs that enabled them to adapt to the new normal, while dedicating ample time to their families as well as on work.
I’m happy that all these measures – from creating a digital eco-system, to investing towards training on digital assets, to introducing new policies - along with other interventions, like new products, digital processes, along with communication support helped us keep our existing customers’ Life Goals on track, and bring on board many more customers.
Although the financial year gone by was one of the hardest, Bajaj Allianz Life’s performance remained strong. Due to lockdowns and social distancing norms ruling out physical interaction, the focus quickly shifted to digital ecosystems. Thanks to our increased efforts towards complete digitization even before the start of the pandemic, we were in a much better position to leverage our resources. The team, and our partners were able to work within our digital ecosystems, and the overall impact on our business was remarkable.
We closed the year with Individual Rated New Business (IRNB) growth of 28%, which was over 9 times higher than the industry growth of 3%. Bajaj Allianz Life also clocked a growth in the Number of Policies (NOP) by as much as 37%.
I’m also pleased to announce that Bajaj Allianz Life has outperformed itself in FY 2021 in other major metrics as well. With respect to Assets Under Management (AUM), we had an impressive growth of 32%, going from Rs. 56,085 crores in FY 2020 to Rs. 73,773 in FY 2021. Incidentally, this is the highest AUM ever recorded by us till date.
The Gross Written Premium (GWP) figure as of FY 2021 was also exceptional. Compared to the previous financial year’s figure of Rs. 9,753 crores, the GWP for FY 2021 grew by 23% to Rs. 12,025 crores. The growth enabled us to surpass our previous highest ever GWP of Rs. 11,420 crores (as recorded in FY 2010).
As a result of these extraordinary performances, the net worth of Bajaj Allianz Life has also seen an uptick by about 10%, from Rs. 9,731 crores in FY 2020 to Rs. 10,735 crores in FY 2021, which is again the highest ever we’ve recorded.
Customer experience and satisfaction will always be our primary driving force. This led us to further invest and introduced several initiatives towards enhancing customer delight and improving business quality in FY 2021.
One of the key measures we adopted is the First Time Right (FTR) initiative. With this, we focus on reducing the time taken to facilitate policy issuances by encouraging our stakeholders to get all of their inputs done correctly at the very first step. We also simplified the renewal process for our customers by driving them towards the auto-pay facility. The initiative has seen exemplary success, with the auto-pay attachment rate growing from 39% in April, 2020 to 48% by the time we closed FY 2021. I would like to assure you that Bajaj Allianz Life would ceaselessly continue to push for auto-pay in the forthcoming financial year as well.
Thanks to our measures aimed at business quality improvement, we, at Bajaj Allianz Life, have successfully managed to reduce ULIP surrenders (as a percentage of ULIP AUM) down to 0.5% in FY 2021 vis-à-vis FY 2020. I’m also glad to announce that there has been a reduction in the grievance ratio from 50 in FY 2020 to 44 in FY 2021, which translates to a reduction of -12%.
Bajaj Allianz Life has always been one of the pioneers in the life insurance industry space in the context of investing heavily in digitization and the enhancement of existing digital ecosystems. We had been taking conscientious efforts to go completely digital long before the pandemic hit our shores. These interventions along with other safe and simple tech interventions enabled us to manage the tough FY 2021 with some ease, and strong business numbers.
We kept the tradition of consistently enhancing our existing digital solutions while introducing new ones. Our revolutionary virtual assistance service - Smart Assist - stands as a testament to this fact. It is the first-of-its-kind in the industry that enables app to browser screen sharing in real time and in a complete secure environment. With this new digital service, our customers can now connect with us virtually, and our experts can then guide them with advice and assistance. At a time when social distancing norms kept people away from meeting face-to-face, Bajaj Allianz Life’s Smart Assist has helped us empower our customers from the comfort of their homes.
The introduction of a Digital Life Certificate service and i-SERV, our very own video chat support for customers and WhatsApp for business for customers and agents, were some of the other hallmark digital solutions that we strengthened in FY 2021 to the benefit of our customers and partners.
Recognizing the impressive potential of data analytics and machine learning, we have also started to incorporate them in a much sharper and more resourceful manner. Our Pre-Approved Sum Assured (PASA) feature is one such example of data analytics done right. Thanks to the insights provided by data analytics, it is now possible for us to get to know the customer and their risk appetite better, thereby giving us the freedom to upsell.
In the previous financial year, our point of focus was on the introduction of a comprehensive term plan - the Bajaj Allianz Life Smart Protect Goal. Emboldened by the exceptional success of the Bajaj Allianz Life Smart Protect Goal plan, we decided to shift the focus to the retirement segment in FY 2021, and thereby open yet another new customer segment whose life goals we’d enable.
In response to the opportunity in the retirement category, which is driven by increased life spans and the ever increasing requirement for a guaranteed income stream post retirement, we launched Bajaj Allianz Life Guaranteed Pension Goal plan. The benefits of the guaranteed income can either be enjoyed immediately or be deferred to a later point in time. Furthermore, being an annuity plan, one of its primary objectives is to provide a guaranteed life-long income to the policyholder in the form of a pension. We made it highly flexible so that it can be customized according to the policyholder’s needs and requirements. Finally, to ensure more and more customers are able to sign-up for this value-packed product we introduced the first-of-its-kind regular pay annuity option. I’m happy to be able to provide customers a much-needed certainty into their post-retirement life.
Considering these developments, it would be apt to note that our success in FY 2021 can be attributed to our innovative product solutions, extensive digital ecosystem and seamless processes that we introduced. These in addition to the focus of our team played a huge role in enabling us to reach and empower customers and agents.
With the COVID-19 pandemic resurging once more, we find ourselves staring at yet another challenging year in FY 2022. At the outset, the second wave of the crisis is seemingly more powerful and has already claimed many lives. Taking this situation into account, we may be seeing stricter enforcement of social distancing norms.
However, despite the nature and the number of challenges that Bajaj Allianz Life may have to face this year, I am confident that we will come out of this even stronger. Our digital infrastructure, our products, and data analytics, and related assets are all well primed to help us tackle this crisis.
As a part of my concluding note, I also would like to assure you that innovation at Bajaj Allianz Life is a never-ending process. In the forthcoming financial year, we will continue to experiment with new distribution models to enhance growth, focus on improving productivity and cost rationalization, enhance customer centricity and brand presence, and expand into new segments.
Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer