In its 14th year, Outlook Money Awards are now the industry benchmark on institutions that have a higher consumer focus. This year a few new categories were added, and the entire process of calling for entries and even evaluation underwent a change. The winning institutions are the first stop point for consumers looking for respective financial products and services.
Winner: Rajiv Anand- Group Executive and Head- Retail Banking, Axis Bank
The third largest private sector bank in India has taken several initiatives towards consumer empowerment, which was instrumental in their being the winners. The bank has been focusing across the spectrum when it comes to offering products and solutions across customer segments like large and mid-size corporate, SME, agriculture and retail banking. Digital initiatives and extensive promotion through actress Deepika Padukone as the brand ambassador only added to the visibility and connect with a younger audience.
Runner-up: Ravi Narayanan- Country Head, Branch Banking, Retail Trade Finance, HDFC Bank
Among the first few banks to embrace a full suite of digital banking products, the bank launched an app through which one could transact in 75 different ways. This set the tone for the bank to focus on a younger target audience and at the same time graduate existing customers to start using services through the app and digital banking which would help them transact faster and in a more efficient way. Understandably, a majority of their retail customers are banking through the digital medium.
Best Equity Fund House
Winner: Poonam Sharma- Head of Research, IDFC Asset Management Company
In a relatively short span of time, this fund house has established itself as a force to reckon with, with its strategy of focusing on products that meet investor needs. One of its leading equity schemes followed the principle of accepting investments only through the SIP route, thereby discouraging investors to invest by way of lump sum. Another valuable contribution made by this AMC is the manner in which it has spread financial literacy by way of short films that one can associate with.
Runner-up: A Balasubramanian- CEO, Birla Sun Life AMC
With its ‘Jaanoge tabhi to Maanoge’ campaign, this AMC only built on its base to grow significantly not only the assets its manages but also by way of reaching out to investors far and wide. The company has a compact suite of equity funds that are tailored for every kind of investor. Also, its digital push towards equity investing helped it in being one of the winners. Trust in the Birla name is a natural addition for investor attraction towards this AMC.
Best Debt Fund House
Winner: Leo Puri- Managing Director, UTI Asset Management Company
The oldest asset management company in the country benefits from its far and wide reach. Its Swatantra initiative has been the driver for a continuous investor education foray, which has brought in investors from both small and big cities in the country. Moreover, the digital thrust in recent years has helped the AMC connect with a younger audience. A team of highly experienced fund managers and management that has weathered through the rough and clear patches alike has resulted in its winning.
Runner-up: Dinesh Balachandran- Head—Research, SBI Funds Management
This AMC has been there for over 25 years and has a rich and varied experience which has given it the upper hand in connecting with every type of investor— small or big. The fact that it is a subsidiary of State Bank of India helps immensely and is a brand strength that has helped it reach out far and wide. Its renewed focus towards reaching out to investors has resulted in over 50 new branches and digital outreach that have helped in its expansion.
Best Fund House
Winner: Leo Puri- MD, UTI Asset Management Company
The AMC this year gained immensely from its efforts in spreading financial literacy and awareness. The continuous outreach programme across mediums has only meant that the brand has resonated with retail investors who have shown their faith in investing in India’s oldest AMC. Being the oldest fund house has its advantages, which has worked in UTI’s favour for being the outright winner as the best money manager across both equity and debt asset classes.
Runner-up: A. Balasubramanian- CEO, Birla Sun Life Asset Management Co.
Sound management capability and investment management team has been the hallmark of this AMC, which has benefited from the strength of Aditya Birla Group brand. Being in the business for long has only added to its favour in building trust across investors who have experienced and witnessed wealth creation across generations of investors. A strong distribution network and new digital medium initiatives with spreading of financial literacy have all contributed for its growth.
Best Pension Fund House
Winner: Shailendra Kumar- MD and CEO, SBI Pension Fund
One of the three pension fund managers appointed by the PFRDA under the National Pension System for government employees, it draws rich experience from the SBI lineage. Its disciplined approach to money management as stipulated by the board of trustees of the NPS is reflected in the performance of the funds that it manages. The consistent performance is a reason why the corpus that it manages is growing steadily with more pension fund money coming its way for management.
Runner-up: Balram Bhagat- CEO, UTI Retirement Solutions
In a span of less than a decade, UTI Retirement Solutions (UTIRS), a 100 per cent subsidiary of UTI AMC, has made a strong presence in retirement fund management. Managing pension funds as directed by the board of trustees of the New Pension System Trust, UTIRS with its UTI pedigree is a much-sought after pension fund manager. Today, it not only manages the pension funds of government employees, it also manages funds for non-government members in the NPS. Strong research and money management experience has been a factor tilting things in its favour.
Best Life Insurer
Winner: Abhinav Rahul, Mihir Vora- Team Max Life Insurance
This non-bank promoted private insurer has adopted a multi-pronged approach to reach out to customers across different segments. In the process it has managed to build a product suite that has something for everyone. The focus on advice-based sales and quality service delivered through its superior human capital are some of the factors that have worked in the company’s favour. All these efforts have helped it increase the number of lives covered by the company.
Runner-up: Suresh Agarwal, Sunil Sharma, Elizabeth Venkatraman- Team Kotak Mahindra Old Mutual Life Insurance
This Kotak Mahindra group company has benefits from the increased footprint after Kotak Bank’s acquisition of ING Bank. Other than increasing its footprint, the company has also strengthened its offerings and focus on customer service which is visible with the initiatives it took to reach out to newer customers and through group insurance. Its efforts to create a distinct identity a few years ago have started to pay out in an otherwise cluttered environment.
Best Non-Life Insurer
Winner: Bhargav Dasgupta, MD and CEO, ICICI Lombard General Insurance
ICICI Lombard is recognised for its approach towards creating products and services that enhance consumer experience. Its innovative solutions by way of policies that meet the needs of customers has been instrumental in it being the pioneer when it comes to product innovation and technology-driven solutions. Strong digital presence has been the focus for the company which has used technology to manage its operating costs better and also to reach out to customers across geographies.
Runner-up: Segar Sampath Kumar, GM, Health Insurance, The New India Assurance Company and team
A wide product portfolio along with years of experience, reach and presence across the country has made it a favourite among the masses. In keeping with times, the company has not only introduced new policies, but has also adopted digital technology to increase its reach and focus on consumers. The introduction of several over-the-counter type products has meant that it is much easy for consumers to buy a policy and benefit from the risk protection that they provide.
Best Health Insurer
Winner: Segar Sampath Kumar, GM, Health Insurance, The New India Assurance Company and team
The launch of a senior citizen plan reinforced the focus towards health plans by The New India Assurance Company. The company with its long history and wide reach has customers across segments and geographies. In order to spread financial literacy and importance of general insurance, the company has also adopted districts to spread financial inclusion and awareness. With the thrust to enhance policyholder experience, the company has beefed up its claims settlement department and role of third-party administrators.
Runner-up: Sasikumar Adidamu, President & CTO (non-motor), Bajaj Allianz and team
With its thrust on reaching to wider masses through digital technology, the company has taken several steps towards engaging with prospective customers. Several of these initiatives focus more on health issues than getting into detailing product benefits. This approach has found wide acceptance, which, along with the digital footprint has helped the company reach out to more policyholders with insurance products that meet their needs. Thrust on quick service at the time of claims has also gone favourably with policyholders.
Best Home Loan Provider
Winner: Sunita Sharma, MD and CEO, LIC Housing Finance
One of the leading Housing Finance companies of the country, LICHFL has its footprint across India and caters to the needs across the spectrum of consumers, making it one of the most sought-after lenders. In its silver jubilee year, the company’s initiatives increased its on-ground presence with ‘feet on street’ intermediaries providing doorstep services to customers. Such efforts have enhanced the reputation of the company, making it a preferred lender to approach when borrowing for a home.
Runner-up: Rekha Nayak, Hemalatha Rajan, Team Union Bank of India
A bank which has a strong in-house technology team, it has used the same in developing its digital presence and innovative tools that help prospective borrowers easily navigate their loan requirements. With its presence spread across the country, the bank has been proactively working towards easing the process of applying for home loans and processing the same. Along with its core banking solution, thrust on lending under the affordable housing schemes has attracted an increase in borrowers across price points.
Best Education Loan Provider
Winner: R. C. Baliarsingh, General Manager, Bank of India
The runner-up in 2014, this bank has retained education loan as a thrust area, which has also got the necessary push from the central government. The Star Education loan has been availed by students across the country, who otherwise find it not an easy task to borrow money to fund their education. The bank has lent to over 15,000 students in FY15, with a loan book that witnessed a significant growth, indicating its thrust towards funding education.
Runner-up: Govind N Dongre, GM, CREDIT & Financial Inclusion, Vijaya Bank
Truly a friend whom you can bank on, the bank has pushed education loans aggressively through the Vidya Lakshmi Portal, which has a simple three-step process that students can use to not just apply loan with Vijaya Bank, but also with other banks. The initiative is completely online, making it more tuned to the younger audience, which typically needs this loan. This initiative is supported both by the Department of Higher Education and the Department of Financial Services.
Best Retail Broker
Winner: Prasannan Keshavan, Yagnesh Parikh, Abhishake Mathur, Team ICICI Direct.com
ICIC Securities has played a significant role in creating informed access to investors, be it retail, HNI, corporate or financial institutions. The first mover advantage, with a great technology platform has made the company synonymous with online trading. The wide range of products, services and advisory offered through the platform on top of the ICICI branding has made it widely accepted among retail investors. The digital push has further cemented its position as a strong retail broking company.
Runner-up: Dhiraj Relli, MD and CEO, HDFC Securities
A subsidiary of HDFC Bank and focusing on retail broking for over 15 years, it has gone from strength to strength in enhancing its product offerings and services through its online platform. Over time, the services offered have synced with technological changes with its digital presence finding several takers. Well-designed investor interface and improving customer experience are some of the features that have aided in the company finding takers among retail investors.
Best Institutional Financial Distributor
Winner: Nitin Rao, Group Head—Private, Premier Banking & Third Party products, HDFC Bank
The role of the bank as a one-stop-shop for consumption of financial products has been favourably used by HDFC Bank. The physical reach aside, HDFC Bank has a wide range of products that find takers among investors, which is also in their interests. The digital push by the bank has also meant that for those investors looking for a more do-it-youself approach, there is no need for an alternate distribution point. Brand HDFC does the rest in pulling new consumers and retaining the old ones.
Runner-up: Vineet Arora, Dheeraj Sehgal, Anupam Guha Team ICICI Securities
Through brand ICICI Direct, ICICI Securities plays a big role by providing financial services for a wide set of consumers. In recent times, initiatives like the Robo Advisory and expanding its offerings to NPS has made it a go-to institution. The technology-driven approach with an easy on-board interface has made ICICI Direct a preferred choice for investors when it comes to choosing an institutional distributor. Several years of proven track record also infuses confidence among investors when it comes to choosing a financial intermediary.
Best Independent Financial Distributor
Winner: Mukesh Jindal, Partner, Alpha Capital
With Mukesh Jindal at the helm, Alpha Capital has shaped into a boutique set-up that serves the needs of high networth and affluent individuals, families, businesses, trusts, and charities. They focus on solutions that are tailored to fit unique, individual and often complex needs. Where the company scores is in providing simple services through a single point of contact—an advisor you select and trust, backed by a sophisticated team of experts.
Runner-up: Ashish Goel, CEO, Vista Wealth Consultants
Under Ashish Goel, Vista Wealth has been relentlessly focusing on providing investors the best investment options that meet their unique needs to help them achieve their financial goals and give the best preand post-investment services to their clients. Belief in strong relationships has meant that the company has built a strong family of investors over the years who have stuck to them with their finances. Thrust on technology-driven operations and strong advisors have helped them expand their business.
Best Investment Adviser
Winner: Lovaii Navlakhi, Founder and CEO, International Money Matters
Founded by Lovaii Navlakhi, International Money Matters is a financial advisory established to help people achieve their goals. His team’s approach is to focus on the client’s interest which ensures that they make the right investment at the right time. Their expertise in financial planning has helped them grow beyond Bengaluru, where they are headquartered, to offices in Mumbai and Delhi, and with clients based in the US, UK, Middle East and South East Asia.
Runner-up: Renu Maheshwari
With the motto to promote holistic, commission-free financial planning and portfolio management services, Maheshwari has set foot into the path of providing financial advice to individuals. Her practice follows a consultative approach, which has proven her skills and ability to make impact on her clients. The approach followed by her is distinctive which maximises wealth and at the same time safeguards clients against future uncertainties. She is focused on understanding clients’ relationship with money, which helps her in ensuring that they lead a life of financial ease and abundance.