afaqs! news bureau

Pandemic, digital, and new-age apps: The new BFSI ecosystem

A look at how the pandemic has shaped the BFSI sector especially its marketing function and how it is dealing with new-age apps.

“The pandemic hasn’t been the same bullet for different sectors. They’ve been impacted differently,” remarked Sreekant Khandekar, editor and co-founder, afaqs!

He was the moderator of the fourth and the final session of CMO Week from afaqs!. His panellists comprised of leaders from general insurance, life insurance, an aggregator, and the banking sector.

“We’ll be trying to understand from them what has the pandemic meant to their business, especially the marketing function, and how does the game change,” explained Khandekar.

Watch the entire session here (video below) or read on for highlights:

Akhil Almeida, head of marketing, Aegon Life insurance said, “We took the call last year to reorient our strategy and focus from a traditional model of serving life insurance to move into a 100 per cent digital service model.”

“While this plan was in the works for few years, the pandemic accelerated it and now Aegon is a digital-only business,” he went on to add.

“I joined Acko last year, it looks at digital as a medium and not as a business strategy and it relies heavily on tech and data to understand its customers and to be able to price the products in a better way,” said Ashish Mishra, executive vice president of marketing, Acko General Insurance.

“We did see a couple of businesses struggling to figure out digital during the pandemic…” remarked Elizabeth Venkataraman, joint president, consumer, commercial, and wealth marketing at Kotak Mahindra Bank.

She went on to add, “We had a phygital strategy and now the customer is changing because she is using digital channels and we’ve seen a change in trajectory in bill payments, person to person payments… The older segment likes a combination of digital and physical while the millenials may move to digital-only…”

Ravi Santhanam, CMO, head of corporate communications, liability products, and managed programs, HDFC Bank said, “90 per cent of all our transactions were already digital (in volume terms) and we do have a 6,000 branch network, they’re more relationship centres.”

“The salespeople figured out digital is a tool to do sales better, that was the biggest change we saw in HDFC Bank,” he added.

Samir Sethi,’s head of brand marketing went next and said, “Two of our biggest products are term insurance and health insurance which traditionally have been push products. We’ve been trying advertising and other means to convince customers they need to shorten the time to buy these products… The pandemic increased the acceptance of online as a buying channel for these categories.”

“The pandemic has triggered the forceful shift to digital and technology adaption. We all are riding on a phygital model and the impact of the pandemic has also reflected in the consumer behaviour…” said Shefali Khalsa, head, brand and marketing, SBI General Insurance.

This panel discussion was part of the 3rd edition of CMO Week (June 7-11, 2021), a conference organised by afaqs!. Session sponsor - MySmartPrice.

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