My guest for today is Yashish Dahiya. Yashish is Co-Founder & Group CEO, Policybazaar.com
In over 12 years, Yashish has grown Policybazaar to become a key influencer in consumer decisions around insurance. He believes death, disease and disability products are the future of the insurance industry, as India strives towards social security. He is an avid sportsperson, and has worked in the past as MD of Ebookers Plc and consultant with Bain & Co in their London office.
This episode is brought to you by multipie.co where we believe Investing is an ignored life skill. Multipie is building up a platform where people can form communities and learn, share , collaborate on growing their wealth using the right tools. We want your hard earned money to work for you
0:00 - Intro
1:19 - Yashish’s career journey
3:50 - What does Policybazaar do?
6:10 - How is Policybazaar different from a traditional insurer?
8:35 - Changing lack of health insurance cover in India
9:18 - Why you shouldn’t buy savings products
10:24 - Policybazaar’s USP
12:18 - Understanding Policybazaar’s journey
17:18 - Yashish’s views on journey with Info Edge
19:19 - Shifting consumer mindsets in the insurance sector
21:46 - How did insurance start?
22:57 - Upcoming trends in the insurance sector
24:13 - Has COVID accelerated insurance adoption?
25:15 - Insurance advice for your financial planning
29:02 - Why is Yashish able to spread insurance education so effectively?
32:01 - Impact of fitness on Yashish’s life
34:33 - Is there “ease of doing” business in India?
37:38 - An insurance stereotype Yashish wants to break
38:36 - Advice to Yashish’s 20yr old self
Hello, listeners. My name is Raj Singhal and welcome to another episode of Breaking Investment Stereotypes. This episode is brought to you by multipie.co. We believe that investing is an ignored life skill. Our mission is to create a platform where people can come, learn, share and collaborate through the right tools. Ultimately, we want your hard-earned money to work for you. Here at breaking investment stereotypes, my job is to deconstruct world-class investors, wealth managers, or business builders and deep dive into their journey professionally, personally, or both. I want to give a little guidance on how to use the shows. None of the following should be taken as investment advice. Please see multipie.co/disclosures for more information. My guest for today is Yashish Dahiya. Yashish is the co-founder and group CEO of policybazaar.com. In over 12 years, your shares have grown Policy Bazaar to become a key influencer in consumer decisions around insurance. He believes death, disease, and disability products are the future of the insurance industry as India strives towards social security. He's an avid sportsman who has worked in the past as MD of Ebookers Plc. and consultant with Bain & Co in their London office. So without further ado, please welcome Yashish. Welcome to the show.
Yeah, let me first start with your story. I heard that you got into tuitions, post your IIT-IIM before building a few companies. So please take us through your career and how you got into building Policy Bazaar?
Yeah. So we used to live in Noida. And after my IIT-IIM, I got a job with a company. And the initial salary for the first year was about 13,000 rupees per month. And I was wondering, why my father did not earn so much, he was in the army and had just retired. But I somehow thought I could make more money than 13,000 on my own. And it wasn't making sense, going to a different city and working for a company, just wasn't then adding up, because I could see the expenses, right, and I'd have to stay somewhere. I'd have to kind of put it all together and it wasn't making sense. So I started a tuition class in my house during the holidays and I started making good money out of that, about two to three times more than the salary I would have received. And I had no expenses in the sense that I used to work from the dining table of our house. And it was working out quite okay for me. But I think my parents did not like that. They thought it was not a respectable job.. So they asked me to join a job and I did join that company. I stayed with them for four years, I did well with them. I think there's an important piece there. Because if you think about it, it was not financially rewarding. It was not a job I enjoyed. But at the same time, as I look back, I did very well with it. I was focused and committed to the fact that I was there. A lot of people ask me why I did that. To me, the important part was, once I'm there, it's my reputation on the line, right? It doesn't matter what I'm getting paid. It doesn't matter whether I like doing what I do or not. The fact is that I've turned up. If I turn up, I have to do the job as well as I can. And so I don't think you always need passion, you just need to get on with it. Anyway, the rest of the story is quite clear. After that, I joined Bain for some time. And then I was at ebookers, I grew quite rapidly at ebookers became the managing director, and post-e-bookers, we started Policy Bazaar, which has thankfully done quite well.
So I guess we all started our career around a similar time because I remember when I started my job with DSP Merrill, the salary was lower than what you were getting at 13,000. So those are the times. Can you please explain in your words, what Policy Bazaar does, and how the company generates its revenue?
People buy a lot of insurance in the market. And it is mostly sold by either a physical agent or a bank or somebody. But most of the time when you're buying an insurance policy, you're dealing with one company, one company's product, one set of products, and so your information becomes quite limited. What Policy Bazaar is set out to do is make that information available to you across multiple companies. But the more important aspect, in our view, was that the right kind of products were not being sold sufficiently. What is the right kind of product? Insurance is required for health insurance, life insurance, and as life insurance, I mean, term insurance, I don't mean investments or savings, primarily because the most critical part of the earning member disappears, then costs need to be taken care of. And so we popularized these quite a bit, and that was the clear focus. The focus towards protection, because insurance is about protection. Insurance is not about making money. Insurance is about what if things go wrong? And we focused on that. Obviously, the second part about insurance, which is very critical, which people sometimes forget, because a lot of customers ask us, why is it so difficult to buy an insurance policy? It is difficult because in insurance you can pay 1000 rupees and take away one crore rupees, very quickly. And so due diligence has to happen, and due diligence has to happen on the consumer's part also. It's not like it's my right to buy the shoe, why can't I get the shoe? No, sometimes insurance will be denied. And the reason it will be denied is based on declarations, the person taking it on also has to be comfortable. So insurance is a complicated product. And I think we are starting to bring that understanding to the entire market that this is not about selling a pair of jeans or a pair of shoes, which everybody in the world has a right to buy, or even an airline ticket. This is actually about risk assessment. Absolute bonafide declarations and decisions made based on those declarations, and those declarations are critical. The customers hence need to be educated to understand those declarations and understand the products. So I think we're kind of leading the revolution, which is towards educating both the consumer and the industry on insurance as it should be.
So you know, just building on that. Can you tell us how different you are from the traditional insurance company, and many of which are listed on the exchange as well. I guess you guys are more into aggregating the insurance, but please elaborate on that.
I'll explain a few facts to you, if you look at the industry, and I don't say that it is good, bad or ugly,. The point is, if you look at the industry, 85% of the products sold in the industry are either savings products, with some minimal component of insurance cover to provide some tax benefit, or they are motor insurance. And a small fraction of the industry is then health insurance. And an even smaller fraction is what you would call term insurance or protection, absolute protection, right? The moment you look at us, and what the customers buy through us, you will find the protection products would be 70% of what people buy through us. And only, you know about 15% are the savings products. So why does this change happen? Why does this huge difference happen that the industry is 85% savings products, whereas we are only 15% savings products, we believe that the products are very complicated. Not really, health insurance is more complicated than most investment products in India. And health insurance is our biggest product. While it is quiet, you know, it's not as big. So I think I would say we sell what the consumers ask for, what the educated customer asks for. The customer is passive. In most of the industries, the customer is the taker, he's sitting there, somebody approaches him and says, I think you should have this product. And the seller is empowered, the seller could be the insurance company or the distributor. Whereas in our case, the customer gets up in the morning and says, Hey, I want this product. Can you tell me what my options are? And so it is just the consumer demand for term insurance, health insurance, again, based on education, I guess that's where it starts. And that's the point of Policy Bazaar.
So I think you also alluded to- insurance is still very under-penetrated in India. I mean, I think you mentioned in one of some earlier calls, or talks that there are about 60 million Indian families, which have got about more than five lakh of annual income, but the insurance penetration is still probably around 20%. Even in COVID-19, only about 7 to 10% of the people who reached a hospital had any decent medical policy. So what do you think, you guys are looking to change that and how can that be changed?
So, let me explain that in a very pragmatic manner, I just explained to you that 80% of the policy premium collected in the industry is for savings products. During COVID-19 that can also help, it's like taking your money and paying the hospital because that savings is there. However, what will help is health insurance, or if somebody expires what will dramatically help their family is term insurance. I just explained that for the industry, both of those products put together are less than 12-13% of the industry for up to 70% of what we sell is just those products. So obviously we have a higher focus on selling those products. Let's take a customer because somebody will say there is an insurance component there also. So let me explain it a bit. You have a customer who earns five lakh rupees income, he wants to buy protection through a savings product, because that's what everybody says should be done by you know, an insurance policy and you get protection, what protection should he have, I think any normal person would agree he needs about 50 lakh rupees of protection, about 10 years of income broadly for his family because maybe young family, etc, for 10 years of income. Now, if he goes to buy a 50 lakh rupee sum assured, if you look at most savings products. He usually will have to buy about 10 times premium within sum assured so he'd have to invest about five lakh rupees per year to buy that policy. So it's impractical. you can never build a protection base out of a savings product, at least during your working time, maybe for pensions, it works. It works for pensions, or you can build a pension based on savings, but you can't build protection against death, through a savings product, you fundamentally cannot. Just proved that to you. The business of insurance is hard. It's a very hard business, you have to assess it, it's about when things go wrong.
We read that your Policy Bazaar commands 25% market share in life insurance policies, processing and understanding your process, but one in every two-term insurance products sold digitally. I mean, which is exactly very fascinating. I mean, the sheer numbers, what does Policy Bazaar do differently to achieve all this?
I was speaking to a friend recently, and we were discussing an opportunity. And in that half an hour of conversation, every time he would come at it, he would come at it from how much money was available, how much investment could come in, and how much valuation could be created. And every time in that half an hour that we were having a conversation, I was coming at it from what is the problem to be solved? Is it a big enough problem to be solved? You know that is where the answer lies? I think we are solving a very fundamental problem. And we are very focused on that almost everybody else. I have met people in the system who want to do this, starting with- there's a distribution pie of $5 billion a year. What % pie, what can we have out of it? That distribution pie exists because different products are sold, that pie will go down when very consumer-centric products are sold. You cannot provide convenience, you cannot. Because if you provide convenience, you work against the industry and the consumer. Because let me give you an example. Right? I say Okay, everybody can come and buy insurance, no problem, no questions asked, what does that do? The people who know they're going to die in the next three months, will come and buy the insurance, which is okay, good. Let's do that for charity, no problem, who pays for it? The other customers, so eventually increase the cost of it for everyone. That's not the way you can do it. It's a hard product, hard conversation. And I don't think people understand that. I think people understand it. But I don't think I have come across another person in my life who is as passionate about solving that problem.
Insurance has traditionally been a very slow-moving industry as well, right?
we're in our 14th year right now
It's a long journey. Right? So and then, of course, there are challenges, and you guys must have faced that. Can you talk about a few of those challenges? How have you navigated that?
We are very grateful, there were challenges, we are very grateful for the opportunities. See if the regulator had not allowed us to sell insurance, we can talk endlessly about the challenge that we had from a regulatory perspective. But I think the regulator is doing us a huge favor, by creating something called web aggregator guidelines, the regulations, then allowing us to finally become a broker again. So I think it takes a bit of time, somebody said this to me long back, it said, ‘Don't worry about the problems. If you're doing the right thing, then the regulator, everybody else will come back to help you eventually.’ We can't expect everybody to understand what we are trying to do. Even if I had issues tomorrow, if the government came in and just said, okay, we are giving insurance to everybody for free, I would also not feel very good about it, even though we are solving my problem, I wouldn’t feel good about it. Because I think the mission we set out to do would be done. That's fantastic. But I'm just saying, as a rational person, I should also not feel happy about it, although it's serving my purpose. So I think people will always have their own agendas. My only message to anybody is to see if your agenda is very small, or are you being a leader? Are you being the change agent or you being the blocker, because, you know, if you're just being the blocker, it's quite sad, it's a sad way to live, it's a sad way to and eventually, you know, death will come. You can't block change? So it's hard, but you do the right thing. And there are a few people in the industry who've always done the right thing. So I think, yeah, you eventually get enough of those people. And you finally sell through this.
You mentioned that you know, this is the 14th year for you guys and just want to pick on that. I mean, it's a long journey. And you know, in early stages, I'm sure there would have been ups and downs, and I'm working on my startup. And I can see that. I mean, for me, it's very early right now, when was the point when you thought we're past the inflection point.
So I was joking with my co-founders recently, when we started, 200 days in a year was spent like khatam, all over right? And about 30 days were spent feeling we're on top of the world, that ratio now has probably reversed, right and when did it become equal? Maybe about five-six years ago. So we've been at it for about 14 years. And the ratio has every year we feel the number of days when we feel we are going to die, or fewer. And the number of days when we feel we're on top of the world is increasing. And that's how you take it. I realize this couple of years into our venture that you don't make the basis of your decision today, you make your decisions based on how the last 90 days have been, and how many of those 90 days have you felt on top of the world? And how many of those 90 days did you feel like you were going to die? And that is how you should make your decisions? Because otherwise, yeah, the ups and downs are very volatile.
You must have seen other startups as well. And you've been involved in a couple of the companies, is that five years mark where you see the inflection points are?
I think, okay, so two points, when did we start knowing this was going to work? And this will sound very, very strange to you. The answer is on day one.I have had businesses in the past, I was never confident they would work. This one we knew would work. And the reason we knew that was because we had no option to fail, we were at the end. I was at the end of my bank balances, I had left my family, I was in a different country, there was no option to fail. This, failing here would have meant there is no way to hide. And I think that that usually creates the chance that you don't fail, where you were kind of effectively burnt all your other bridges, I think, also depending on what you've given up to get there. Like you've given up a steady job, you've given up your normal family life, etc, etc. I think when investors start believing that this is going to work and you know. 90 out of 100 people you talk to say they want to invest with you, etc, etc. That for us happened about five years in because before that whether people were investing as VCs or funds or whatever they were effectively all angels, they all had to believe in the management. So I think when InfoEdge invested, when Intel invested, when Inventis invested, till then there were very few investors ready to invest. 1,2,3 investors in every round. After that in every round, it was like, okay, which one, which of these investors will add the most value to us? Which one do we take, and they were like always 6 to 10 investors ready, I think that's what tells you that you can have reached a stage where you're choosing rather than, you know, relying on the goodwill of a few.
So you mentioned info edge. And you know, I just want to spend a little bit of time on that - InfoEdge and Sanjeev Bikhchandani. I mean, there are other companies, which are going through the IPO right now, probably that company is also probably done about 10 years or so, and they will probably use it, right? They were the early investors in your company, anything you want to talk about them?
They are very, very good. They are extremely good. They are consistent, they don't sway with the times, they're extremely consistent. Remember, they invested in us when FinTech wasn't a word. they invested in Zomato when food tech wasn't even a thing. Zomato is, by the way, a 2008-2009 kind of company. It's about 13 years old when I talked to some of the deliveroo's and the other guys here in the UK. they were not even born. So it's way ahead of you know, what you would call food tech. So I think I don't know how they invest. They also have their own set of failures, but they are quite a fundamental thinker, they don't change. I think I've noticed that many investors change their views every quarter. I've seen at the best of investors, they change their view every quarter. info edge that doesn't happen. They are very fundamental believers in people and companies, of course, the companies have to deliver, they can be cut off from a company after some time, they may refuse to invest further, but they sometimes are supportive. So in our first three rounds, after the first round employees were not happy with our performance or our industry. They had concerns but they still supported us by co-investing. But it still supported us and then went to the crazy time started when everybody wanted to invest, let's say 2012 onwards that time they sold because they are consistent with their dues that this is a company which is which has got a huge amount of, you know, regulatory side, you know, issues and all that stuff. So they started selling, you know, we were extremely grateful. Let me put it that way.
So let's move back to insurance. Insurance is a very distributor-driven product, right. I mean probably no one earlier cared about the consumers. It was always about how distributors and insurers were making money. Of course, you guys are doing a great job, and you touched upon some of those, you know, in our conversation. So what change in the consumer mindsets do you believe has made this possible to shift from human brokers and agents to the platform?
I think look, human brokers are a good thing. I'm not saying they're a bad thing. We are starting to have an offline presence. I think consumer understanding was very weak. They didn't know what was good for them. Let me put it this way, almost nobody bought term insurance in 2008-2009. So a lot of education was required. We've spent 1000s of crores of rupees educating the consumer on which insurance is right for them, why it is right for them, etc, etc. And a lot of the parts in the industry did not have any interest in educating the consumer of those facets. But with all that education that's happened, the consumer mindset, the consumer is rational, right? It's a fairly rational thing that people need health insurance and life insurance. So I started getting it, and I started looking for it and started buying. And I think as the future evolves, more and more of them will buy, because it's a necessity, right? For the middle class cannot afford Medicare without insurance, because today, it costs 25 to 50,000 rupees per day at most big hospitals in the country, unless you're going to government hospitals. But today, if you're going to a Medanta, Fortis, whichever one is 25 to 30,000 rupees per day. Now, which middle-class person can afford to pay that for even one week? right, one week is a few lakhs down already. So I think the Indian healthcare infrastructure is built for the rich, not for the middle class. And thus the middle class needs the support of insurance to be able to tide through tough times. Also, middle-class nuclear families cannot afford death. I don't know why people don't get it. You cannot afford death. That is a very, very expensive thing that has an earning member, how will those children keep going to the same school? How will the rents get paid? How will the mortgages get paid? You know, how does it happen without a severe deterioration in the quality of life. So these are necessities but rich people have to buy them before they start saving. But I think people are starting to understand that it is difficult, right? Because you just pay a few 1000 rupees every month and get nothing in the best case scenario, an insurance policy you never use. And then people will feel like you're wasting money, you're not wasting money, they are making sure there are 100 people. In the villages, somebody's animal would die. Let's say cows in India, and cow or buffalo was the primary source of earning because they will do the farming, they will do everything. And whoever's cow or buffalo died then had a massive hit on their income for the next few years. And so what the village people decided is that guys, everybody puts in, you know, 20 rupees per month or whatever. And we just keep putting that in, and whoever's cow dies, we get a new cow without having to bother. So the pain is distributed amongst everybody. Now, nobody knows if my cows are gonna die or somebody else's cows are gonna die. But yes, cows will die every year that we know. I was playing basketball with a friend of mine, half an hour later, he was in the hospital. He was 10 years younger than me. Within the next 24 hours, the bill was 1.5 lakhs I know because I had put my credit card. He didn't have money. And he took about six months to repay me that money. But the point is, this is happening all the time. Now if somebody can't see it, we are trying to educate them to see it's not about fear-mongering, it's about a reality check. So I think that mindset is changing. Definitely.
Over the past few years of running Policy Bazaar, what are the trends you guys are seeing right now, in this whole insurance sector?
The industry is headed towards protection. Without a shadow of a doubt, anybody who misses this trend is at their peril, because according to me, within 10 years protection will pretty much be the only part of the industry and the rest will become very marginalized. Because the consumer interest lies in production, I think the second part is that customer access is key, because the customer does not come to you on his or her own, you have a very, very difficult time because almost all the margins are going to be taken by the person who has the customer access. And I think that's obvious because no one can sell Company A versus Company B versus company C versus D. It doesn't matter which company. So I think customer access is very important. So direct to the consumer, is very critical for everyone. I think claims will get automated, I have zero doubt that within two to three years, we will see significant amounts of claim automation, a lot of the AI will be used there. And that is when the industry would grow 2-3x. Again, because with claims automation will come confidence in transacting with the industry. The data will be huge.
Have you seen COVID accelerating the adoption here for the insurance?
COVID has made it mainstream. COVID made the conversation of health and death one that exists in every house, like my friends who wouldn't think about ever touching health insurance or life insurance and have a lot of those started saying this is a necessity, whether it drove a lot of action. But when I look at the industry, the industry growth numbers don't point towards a huge growth in insurance penetration.
Maybe it's too early for that because people are still dealing with their own problems.
I think you will have more and more people buying it because it's now become kind of a necessity and people understand that.
I mean we all have. I mean I have people in my family who have gone through issues and had to spend 10s of lakhs of rupees on this, and they were not covered. I do not have doubt in my mind that it will happen. But yeah, how fast are we going to see? Probably you guys will see it first. We talked about insurance. I mean, it's a very key element of anybody's financial planning. What would be your advice? You know, we have a lot of young listeners on our podcast, what would be your advice to them? How should they look at insurance as part of their financial planning?
I think the question people have to ask themselves is how can they afford to not have insurance? So, one guy, I remember my gardener, a long time back, came back to me. And he said ‘ameer log insurance lete hai’, that means insurance is bought by rich people. His wife had just had some disease. I said, how much money did you lose? He told me 26,000 rupees, I said, How much time will it take for you to recover that money in terms of savings? How many years of savings? How many months of savings is that? It only about 18 months, I said if you had a product, we show 100 rupees a month from you, this was pre-Ayushman Bharat days and gave you up to two lakh rupees of you know, insurance coverage at select hospitals, you don't want to need to go to the doctor, because you don't want to go there. You want to go to the not so his eyes later, he said, Is that possible? Because the point is education is not there. And the reason education is not there is who will earn anything with my maali paying 100 rupees a month, which distributor is going to make any money? As a distributor? I'll make 10 rupees per month or 20 rupees per month. Is anybody interested in that? In going, picking up the cheque, in explaining to him what product to buy? How's that possible? nobody's interested? Yes, if he only has savings of 25,000 rupees, somebody would come to him and say, Can you put your money in a savings product where you can make 7-8,000 rupees of commission because that is what is possible, but who is interested in buying a 100 rupee health insurance policy. So I think the first thing young people have to ask when answering your question is what are the pieces that you cannot afford living without? It's like, during the days of COVID? We could not afford to go out there to mask insurances like that mask, I think people have to ask themselves that question. And what happens if tomorrow I'm not there? How does everything get taken care of, because there's always that possibility, however small and well if somebody believes they are super manageable, you take that risk, that's fine? Like I tell people, I do not have insurance. I do not have insurance, and it is very clear, I don't need it. The reason I don't need it is that I've built enough financial assets, liquid financial assets with cash in my bank, which can address these eventualities. If today, I disappear. My family is not affected in any way, shape, or form whatsoever, except for the emotional part. And that is because whatever I have I my dependence on my salary is so low, that it doesn't matter at all. I think that's what people have to understand that is their salary important to them, if their salary is important to them because it's a question of assets versus income. If the income coming from your labor is a very high part of your family support system, then you cannot afford to live without insurance. And I think that is the part that people need to understand when I'll give you one more example. Most people when they have a serious health issue, usually their income is also severely impacted within 18 months of that, whatever the company's say, I have seen it in practice. Unfortunately, I have seen it in practice. Most companies will not retain an impaired employee for too long. We are all in competitive businesses, from a goodwill perspective, six months, one year, one and a half years, two years. Beyond that, the company will find one extreme or the other to get rid of the individual. That's the reality. How the individual wants to face it is up to them. And if you believe those events will never happen. Fine. So I think it's the first item that you cross out in any financial planning, you can live without growth of income, you cannot live without insurance.
Yeah, let's talk about some personal stuff here. You know, I've heard that you designed almost all of the Policy Bazaar ads, like 'ullu mat bano', you know, in Akshay Kumar's Yamraj roll. What do you think about all this?
Oh, so see, I am one of the people who's most pained by people not having insurance that I have ever met. And it's not because I run Policy Bazaar. It's from before and it's like, how can you afford to? You know, it's asking almost the opposite question. There is an ad we may be working on, which is a group of people who say, I will go to a hospital, I will go, I might even die, but I promise I will never buy insurance. I know it costs less but I promise I will never buy insurance but the reality is that's how everybody is. That's how 80% percent of the country is now. Most agencies do not understand that pain, they want to make it entertaining, they want to make it creative. Like somebody who came to me said, you know, we will show that there's a jewel and you know, before you buy a jewel you compare, so why wouldn't you compare insurance, they don't get the pain as severely as I get it. I can be a creative person in Hindi. I'm not a very creative person in English. So if you're talking to me in English, you won't find me very funny. But if you talk to me in Hindi, you will start to find me quite funny. I think our brains work that way. We naturally, you know, despite being English educated all my life, let's say, the fun element of me only comes out in Hindi. So I guess, for building ads for ourselves, you need to feel the pain at a certain level to be able to connect with the consumer because the consumer will not get it. He does not want to act on this. And rightly so where the best case scenario is you pay for it and you never use it. That's your best-case scenario. everything else is worse than that. Everything else is worse than that. Right. So I think it's a very unique category. If I had been in the travel industry, maybe I would have relied more on external influences. But in this industry, it's very difficult to rely on external influence. And so we have to bring that pain point out for the consumer in a very dramatic and funny manner. And it's hard to do, it's hard to do. So when we had that lady who asked that tarot reader that I want to talk to my husband, and that guy came in, tried to do some sweet talk. And she says, Are you mad, where is the insurance policy? And he said I forgot to buy it. Are you crazy? You forgot to buy insurance. So you know, what, what do you expect us to do? Now? What's the point of the sweet talk now? Because how do you expect me to pay school fees? How do you expect me to do this, you know, etc, etc? So I think we have to bring that pain point out in a crystal clear manner. And I guess that's what's the key is
Probably we should do our next recording in Hindi only because I also love Hindi. so we'll get all those funny elements
There are a lot of people in the world who want to hear you in English. So that's fine.
So correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe we are one of India's top-performing triathletes. And we have completed about 7 Iron man competitions! And probably should explain what those are to our listeners. But what role has fitness played in your life? professionally, personally?
I was just telling my children yesterday, as we came back from a swimming pool, that if I didn't have to work at all, pretty much, the only thing I would do would be running, swimming and cycling. If I didn't have to earn for a living or whatever, if I had full freedom. So yeah, I like it. I like those activities. I have liked them too since I was 8 years old. It's not something new to me. But I think the step-change in fitness happened about at the start of the Policy Bazaar. And the reason for that is I moved away from my family because my family was in the UK and I went to India, you'd be very surprised how much time family takes because you will work for whatever hours you want to. But if you're an early riser, or something of that sort, or your weekends, the family does take a huge amount of time. And all that time was suddenly just available to me because I had nothing else to do. You can't come to the office before 9:30 and expect to do anything because there will be nobody else there. So especially in a role like mine, what do you want to do sitting alone, right? So especially to get up at 4:30-5? What are you going to do for those five hours, that is what led to more hours being spent on those activities. And you know, that I started taking swimming a little more seriously. And you know better to represent India, the world masters championship and triathlons was a discovery for me in 2016, and I took part in my first triathlon in India. And I won those tracks across all age categories, young, old, everyone. And I realized that I had a bit of new talent there. So I started focusing a little more, of course, it's a demanding activity from a timing perspective. And as COVID happened, I moved back to my family, and I'm finding it hard to focus back on track, not because you realize that the moment the family is there, you realize that your time is not so easily available. So yeah, that's the broad story. And I do have amongst the best timings amongst the Indians but I think that is more just who I was. So, it would be happening anyway, just waiting to be discovered.
Just worth touchpoint, how was it moving back to India to run Policy Bazaar in 2008-2009?
I have worked in India before. So for me working in India is very natural, but I had worked at a different level. I wasn't the CEO of a company. I wasn't the founder of a company in India, it's very complicated. I think the government's been doing a lot of stuff to help. But it is still very complicated. And you know, the impression of businesspeople is not great. We all suffer because of that. So I remember in one of the government inspections, the guy, the gentleman was that, and I was telling him again and again, sir, I'm a first-generation entrepreneur. And he was saying, No, no, no, no, now you become a businessman. And the amazing thing was, it was very wrong of him to be saying that because the connotation with that word was very wrong. You know, and I don't think that's wrong, right? Because a country like India does require business people. Of course, yeah. I tell my dad all the time. He's been in the army. Everybody in my family except me is in the army, or maybe your airforce. If there are no business people, where does the money come to pay all the taxes? And where will we support everything with how will we support our defense? How can we support our healthcare? How can you support our education? How can we support all those things? If there is no income?
I mean, I believe trust is a very national issue, not just with the government, we generally have a trust deficit.
yes. I see a normal customer in retail. Yeah, the male always starts with fraud. Okay, your payment went through and the payment wasn't recognized and to be recognized in 15-20 minutes, or two hours? Yeah. It's not like a scam has happened, or fraud has happened. But what we love is the words fraud, scam, etc, etc. So I think it's a bit. Yeah, the narrative needs to change in the country. if you're going to have growth, you will also have risks. And yes, a little bit of mess will also happen. And that's fine. Because the most important thing for us right now is growth, we as a country need a lot of employment, a lot of growth, a lot of things, and everything will not be perfect.
I have seen that before. I was working in a bank. Right. The whole banking industry has gone through a lot of compliance-related, I mean, especially US compliance-related, the last couple of years, and I've seen that innovation, trying down controls, becoming stronger, has its negative impact. I mean,while there is some positive side to it, the negative sides far outweigh that. So I've seen that, yeah...
yeah, you have a risk-based assessment of things and see where the risk is increasing for us, and then try and control that area. Rather than control everything.
We're coming towards the end of our conversation. So since our show is called breaking investment stereotypes, I mean, any insurance stereotypes that you think need to be broken, any myths stereotyping there? I mean, I'm sure there are tons.
Insurance has not paid the insurance. And I think that's the key. Right? So when people talk about claims-settlement ratios well technically it is insurance, but it doesn't insure anybody too much. It's mostly a savings product, with some rapper benefits. And I think that money is required for infrastructure products, projects, that money is required for the insurance industry to capitalize itself, etc, etc. But those are not the consumers, you know, the consumer should be left free, he pays his taxes, he should be let free, do what's right with his money.
This is the last question and we always ask our guests what advice you will give to your 20-year-old self?
It's a very interesting question, as recently by children asked me that question, that what advice would you give to yourself when you were coming out of school or college,
But you know, I'll tell you, you're lucky that your children are asking the question, my children don't even ask that question. They don't ask for advice. Please go on.
So I thought for 24 hours before giving them the answer. Because there were some easy answers. As I said, they don't take advice. There's nothing to give you. It'll be wrong. Because you're taking something away from me. You're taking away those experiences from me, which were my own, which was my learning, which I would have got. Let me go and get that learning for myself. rather the advice, but there are two parts to it. Right? One is that times will change. And even something as simple as, don't limit yourself, think big. How do I know then that you can take whatever you want? You don't take the fun out of it. I think it's very important that we live our lives fully and don't have any knowledge of the future, which has arrived before its time. Besides the novel cliche quote, like I can tell my kids right that looks if you work hard over the next 30 years, you could achieve anything. You know eventually stay good to your friends. Stay good to your family. But that is stealing away. They have to go and mess up with one friend. They realize how bad it was. And they have to limit themselves by thinking small. Why didn't I think of something else? Or they have to go through their discipline issues, mess up their discipline and realize, whoa, I did not work hard. So obviously, I did not get the result. The fact that karma comes back and bites you every time you don't work hard to those facts, right. But I think those experiences belong to each individual. I can share my experience, but especially an answer to that question, I would love him to live his life the way he did.
That’s a very interesting thought. We’ve come to the end of our conversation. Thank you so much for coming on our show. Bye