Shriram Life has been using advanced analytics and data-driven prediction models to improve underwriting, fraud management, and persistence, shared Casparus Kromhout, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Shriram Life Insurance Company in an exclusive interview with Srajan Agarwal of Elets News Network (ENN)
Leadership in the insurance sector often requires a strong vision. Could you elaborate on your personal philosophy and the principles that guide your decision-making as you steer Shriram Life toward its objectives?
My personal motivation and philosophy have been strongly influenced and driven by the purpose of the company. A strong purpose at work builds stronger engagement, better efficiencies, and a sense of achievement.
Shriram Life is fortunate to be driven by a strong purpose inherited from the Shriram Group DNA – to provide financial protection to society, especially to the vulnerable segments, from the financial impact of the loss of a breadwinner. This purpose is discussed regularly and forms the core of our leadership philosophy.
Thus, I and our team, realise that we don’t only work to deliver numbers and build a company or personal careers instead we contribute to a part of Indian society mostly ignored by more commercial institutions. This guides our decision-making and future courses.
My principles include anticipating outstanding performance from people while granting them the autonomy to achieve favorable outcomes.
In your role, you are responsible for the company’s overall performance. Can you share some of the most challenging decisions you’ve had to make in recent years, and how they have contributed to the company’s growth and stability?
One of the most challenging times that we faced together as a company was during the pandemic. We had to make some quick decisions to manage the changes to ensure the sustainability of the organisation while ensuring that customer’s get serviced and claims get paid.
Recently, we have embarked on creating new growth engines and bringing-in new leadership to support the growth aspirations of the organisation.
Your leadership involves not only the growth of the company but also the well-being of your employees. Could you describe the leadership and management style that you employ to foster a positive work environment and employee development within your organisation?
Inculcating an entrepreneurial mind-set has been a key in how the Shriram Group operates, and at Shriram Life, we inculcate the same. We support initiatives taken by our colleagues and give freedom to leaders to develop their areas. This has been one of the main drivers to inculcate an innovative workforce.
Given our unique challenges in serving the under-served segment, with approximately 45 per cent of our new business policies sold from rural India; while building a profitable and sustainable organisation, we try to keep the focus on innovation and rigour in thinking to solve for these needs.
To help employees develop further, the company has identified the leadership competencies that we will need to scale our reach and our team is encouraged and supported to develop these competencies.
In your leadership role, collaboration and partnerships are crucial for the success of Shriram Life. Could you discuss a noteworthy collaboration that significantly benefited the company and how it exemplifies the power of strategic alliances in the insurance industry?
Collaborations and partnerships are crucial for growth. Shriram Life has had the advantage of having the support of the Shriram ecosystem. The Shriram ecosystem works with a set of customers that are mostly outside the purview of the more commercial financial institutions and most aligned with the Government’s financial inclusion initiative, thus requiring a special set of solutions to fully fill their needs and overcome some inherent service challenges. Shriram Life has over the years been able to innovate and develop solutions and processes to overcome these barriers. An example of reaching the customer base is that through the ecosystem we have been able to provide individual protection solutions to the unique truck driver customer base of SFL.
Shriram Life also collaborates with partners outside of the ecosystem and is constantly looking for partners who share the same customer segment synergies with us. One example from the past is our partnership with the telecom provider Uninor in 2015 where a micro insurance life coverage was offered to all the prepaid customers of Uninor. Shriram Life was able to cover over 2 crore unique customers during the partnership.
These partnerships are examples of how Shriram Life has been able to cover a large group of customers from the common man customer segment, with innovative solutions that handle large volumes with lower ticket sizes.
These also give us confidence that we are aligned with the Regulator’s initiative of Insurance for all by 2047; which would require protection to reach all segments of the society.
The insurance landscape is undergoing digital transformation. How do you envision technology shaping the insurance industry, and what role will Shriram Life play in harnessing the potential of innovative technologies in the years to come?
The insurance sector, which was a laggard in adopting new technologies before the onset of Covid, has undergone a complete technological transformation during and post the pandemic.
With more customers on the internet today and comfortable with digital transactions, the avenues to reach and serve customers have increased. This adoption can clearly be gauged with how insurtech is speculated to be of the highest growing segments in Fintech.
Shriram Life, had adopted technology across the customer life cycle including mobile based point of sale assistance, customer service application ShriMithra; AI driven virtual assistant and we have claims process with capability to settle claims within 12 hrs for remotest of rural regions.
Shriram Life has also been using advanced analytics and data driven prediction models to improve underwriting, fraud management and persistence. With our experience in using tech solutions, they help improve efficiencies, facilitate quick scale up, offer flexibility in offerings, provide opportunities to cross/up sell, etc. Thus, we expect continued focus, growth and innovation.