When your Company went public in 2005, most of its businesses were in early stage of growth. The work culture was like that of a start-up. Over the last 10 years, we have scaled most of our core businesses to leadership positions. Today, with revolutionary changes in digital and mobile world, it appears that all our businesses need to be reinvented.
The Company has to again get into a start-up mode and look at the new realities of consumer preferences, market structure, technology trends and competition strategies. A number of time-tested management tenets, marketing mantras, customer insights and organisation theories may suddenly look redundant and have to be re-learnt. For instance, several frugal managers and accountants who swore by cost cutting may miss the opportunities of removing the cost altogether.
For customer service, the significance of human warmth and touch was never questioned for several centuries; the behaviour of new digital customers would be a big enigma for erstwhile gurus of the subject.
The new age customer may perceive a courtesy service call as unwarranted intrusion in his privacy. On one hand, customer is spoilt for choices and on the other hand, he is far more empowered to make the right choice. Marketing is now much beyond creative design and leveraging mass media.
It now hinges a lot upon social media and digitally customised unique proposition. In financial world, CEOs of all banks are focussing on digital strategy and yet there are disruptive start-ups, carving out their space. Some digital start-ups seem to have access to unlimited funding to change the rules of the game. Some established incumbent players are incubating start-up culture and trying to remain in the game.
When your Company was listed on May 17, 2005; we were in the midst of a strong bull market. The bull market had begun in 2003 and lasted through 2008, seeing indices multiply by about 7 times. Once again, we seem to be in a bull market for more than a year now and nobody knows how long it will last. Between these two bull markets, we witnessed cyclical ups and downs, a bear market and unprecedented volatility. Amidst boom and bust cycles, the world witnessed financial crisis in Asia as well as developed world and remarkable bounce-backs, political upheavals, the worst terrorist attack and most effective counter terrorist responses by the world. India’s GDP in real terms has more than doubled. While pundits may differ on pace of recovery, there is consensus that growth will only accelerate from the current level.
Your Company was originally founded in 1995, i.e. 20 years ago. From foundation till listing in 2005, the Company metamorphosed from a boutique research and consulting firm to a leading internet portal for business, investment and finance. Since then, your Company had a roller coaster journey of euphoric sky rocketing valuations to despondent fall from precipice. My colleague Venkat has written more about it in this annual report. In late 90s, we saw gust of capital and ventures in Internet space, at a scale unparalleled in human history. While several went bust, a few became household names and are valued more than national income of many nations. Regardless of inconsistency in returns generated by capital in Internet ventures, it did nurture some of the most amazing innovations changing human lives forever. Your Company’s Internet trading platform is one modest example of such an innovation.
We thought such mania was once in a life time or in fact once in several lives phenomenon. And lo, we have another one bigger and bolder this time for e-commerce and mobile technology. There seems to be a mania driving unlimited capital to help the world change at a digital pace. Consumer behaviour, habits and market dynamics will never be the same again. It looks like all major markets will witness disruptive innovations causing serious challenges to incumbents and may produce a new set of winners.
Through the tumultuous times in last 10 years, the world has grown from strength to strength. India has done far better than the rest of the world. Within India, financial services sector has come of age and is ready to transform once again with innovative technologies on one hand and increasing stringencies of regulations on the other. Your Company too has grown from strength to strength. Your Company’s profit after tax for FY15 was all time high at Rs. 476 crore, almost 50 times of what it was a decade ago. The consolidated net-worth of over Rs. 2,500 crore indicates its financial robustness. Your Company has delivered total shareholder return of more than 32% per annum compounded for last ten years. It has emerged as one of the premier leading players in financial services space. Its relentless quest to strengthen systems and processes with focus on risk mitigation and compliance has underpinned the strong growth with impeccable reputation.
In the emerging competitive world, ability to adapt to the changing world alone will not secure an organisation’s place amongst winners, but a lot will depend on the pace at which it adapts, without losing sight of the right direction. Therefore, one is reminded of the old adage, as cliché as it may sound, that ‘time is money.’ Feeling triumphant from a great journey through the last decade with priceless experience, we are prepared to take on the next decade. We know it has several unknowns in its store. Our efforts are guided by our vision to be one of the most respected financial services companies in India. Our values continue to drive our behaviour of growing with absolutely no compromise on integrity, fairness and transparency. We look forward to re-live the same vision and values in the coming decade.