The insurance regulator says that commissions will facilitate the smooth distribution of insurance
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) chairman, J Hari Narayan, has come out in support of insurance agents and the commission given to them as he feels that it would bring about smooth functioning for the distribution of insurance.
"With the kind of sustained activity, which an insurance agent has to undertake, the number of times he has to meet a prospect before a sale can be concluded and the kind of post-sales service that he has to provide for the insurance holder, a commission-based model is necessary. The remuneration (to agents) is not excessive; there cannot be a lower cost method for distribution," said Mr Narayan at the launch of the Insurance Institute of India in Mumbai on Tuesday. The Institute will act as an educational service provider for all insurers across the country.
"I am happy to say that if you have a look at the total commissions paid to the agents in the insurance industry in proportion to the total premium, it's a little over 7%," Mr Narayan said.
There has been a view that Unit-linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs) should be sold on a fee-based model and not a commission-based model. The argument says that ULIPs overcharge consumers through the commission-based model. According to IRDA rules, agents are allowed a commission of nearly 40% of the premium of a particular ULIP in the first year.
Insurers have also claimed that ULIPs-80% of which are sold in rural and semi-urban parts of India-are mainly marketed on the basis of the relationship that an agent has with the prospective buyer.
Unlike mutual funds and pension funds, which are no-load products, ULIPs continue to charge high commissions. In August last year, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had removed entry loads on mutual funds.
Mr Narayan's stance on the issue appears to have the support of finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, as well. At the same event, Mr Mukherjee commended the role of intermediaries, especially agents in the insurance sector, who contribute in ensuring that insurance products reach everyone in the country.
"With a force of around 30 lakh agents, it is a matter of pride that the insurance industry is perhaps the only financial services arm that reaches out to almost all the villages in this country. This is also borne out by the fact that 25% of the life policies i.e. approximately 1.5 crore policies every year are sold in rural areas," Mr Mukherjee said.
However, he also said that the industry has a long way to go and further needs to increase the penetration of insurance. He said, "With rising incomes in the country, the need for insurance is bound to rise and provides opportunity for the insurance industry to tap this growing need and provide insurance cover, both life and non-life, to the large masses of this country. I am sure the industry will rise to the occasion."
The entire spat between SEBI and IRDA in regard to regulation and commission fees broke out in early April when the market watchdog banned 14 life insurance companies from issuing ULIPs that heavily invested in stocks and bonds. On the next day, IRDA asked life insurers to go about their daily business. The two regulators are yet to see eye-to-eye on regulating ULIPs.
As the stalemate continued, the finance ministry directed both the regulators to jointly seek a legally-binding order from an appropriate court over the jurisdiction of ULIPs. The market watchdog has filed a petition in the Supreme Court for transferring various petitions against ULIPs. The issue of jurisdiction is obliquely referred to in these petitions.
The Insurance Institute of India, formerly known as the Federation of Insurance Institutes (JC Setalvad Memorial), was established in 1955 for the purpose of promoting insurance education and training in the country.
Mr Narayan said that the entity established in 1955 had given more than a crore insurance advisors to the country, which has been fundamental for the growth of the industry.
"The institute has provided the management cadre for most of the insurance industry," Mr Narayan added.
According to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, total sales for all categories stood at 12,08,851 units as against 9,29,917 units for the corresponding period a year-ago, a growth of 30%
The Indian auto industry sold 12,08,851 units last month, a record sale for the month of May, fuelled by an improved economy and an increase in consumer spending, reports PTI.
According to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the total sales for all categories stood at 12,08,851 units as against 9,29,917 units for the corresponding period an year-ago. The 30% rise in sales is in contrast to the usual trend of lower volumes in May.
"Last month's figures were the best ever sales for the month of May in almost all categories... Our economy is growing very rapidly. The per capita income has almost touched $1,000 and that's a magical figure, which is the threshold for automobile demand," SIAM director general Vishnu Mathur told reporters in New Delhi.
Besides, other factors like stable interest rates and easy availability of finance have also spurred the sales. SIAM puts domestic car sales of previous month at 1,48,481 units, against 1,13,810 units sold in May last year. This makes for an increase of 30.46%.
Car market leader Maruti Suzuki sold 76,120 units in May, a figure higher by 21.06% while rival Hyundai Motor India's sales grew by 15.53%. Similarly, Tata Motors' sales also jumped to 18,618 units, which was 45.02% higher than last year.
However, SIAM director general cautioned that sales may be affected if the monsoon, which the Met department has predicted to be good this year, becomes weak. Rising inflation is another concern.
"If the government takes steps to control the money supply, then at some point of time interest rates will be under pressure. We have to track it very carefully," Mr Mathur said.
Sales of two-wheelers in May also jumped by 28.66% over that of May 2009. Motorcycle sales in India during May went up by 25.80% to 7,25,311 units from 5,76,537 units in the year-ago period.
The country's largest motorcycle maker Hero Honda registered a growth of 11.74% in its sales at 4,01,320 units in May 2010.
Sales in rival Bajaj Auto also shot up by 68.73% to 1,91,726 units, while Chennai-based TVS Motor Company posted a 21.21% growth at 52,319 units in May. Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI) saw its bike sales jump by 52.24% to 55,110 units.
In the scooter segment, the total sales in May jumped by 45.45% to 1,57,509 units as against 1,08,291 units sold in the corresponding month last year, SIAM said.
HMSI's scooter sales were up by 28.03% at 76,980 units, while TVS Motor's scooter sales grew by 40.19% in May to 30,567 units. Hero Honda's scooter sales jumped 23,738 units, an increase by 61.21% from last year.
SIAM figures show the commercial vehicles segment carried forward the upward trend that began in July 2009, with sales in the last month growing by 57.71% to 48,580 units against 30,803 units in the corresponding period last year. This was the most successful period for the segment.
"Expecting a good monsoon this year, there were good freight movements witnessed across the country. This has propelled the commercial vehicles sales," Mr Mathur said.
Light commercial vehicle sales rose by 37.94% in May to 25,688 units from 18,622 units. Medium and heavy commercial vehicle sales surged by 87.93% to 22,892 units compared to 12,181 units in the same month last year.
Three-wheeler sales were also up by 10.34% at 33,141 units compared to 30,036 units.
According to ICICI Securities' managing director and CEO Madhabi Puri-Buch, nearly $20 billion will be raised from IPOs during the current fiscal
Indian companies are expected to raise up to Rs2 lakh crore from the primary market over the next three years, the country's top brokerage and investment banking firm ICICI Securities said today, reports PTI.
"Over the next three years, we will see a lot of companies coming out...there will be additional papers in the market, Rs1.5-Rs2 lakh crore in the next three years," ICICI Securities' managing director and CEO Madhabi Puri-Buch said in New Delhi on the sidelines of a CII event.
According to Ms Buch, nearly $20 billion will be raised from the initial public offer (IPO) market this fiscal only.
We expect that Indian companies will "raise around $20 billion from the IPO market this fiscal," she said, adding that of this around Rs40,000 crore would be from public sector and an equal amount from private companies.
She further said that many firms, especially small ones, may prefer the private equity (PE) route for raising funds.
"Smaller companies will prefer private equity. Liquidity is available in the market for Indian corporates."
When asked whether the new public holding rule will dampen the primary market, Ms Buch said "I would not say it would prove a dampener for the IPO market."
Last week, the government made it mandatory that all the listed firms should ensure a minimum 25% public holding. Analysts said following the new norm, public offers would swarm the market.
Ms Buch added that under the new rule "companies may prefer to go for private equity investors in the initial stage".