A true Indian says ‘Insurance and me. Are you joking?! Anyway they sell a Pepsi when I need water’.

An interesting comment by the IRDA IT chief in making – Anand Juvekar regarding mis-selling by Insurance Companies made me revisit the entire storyboard. After all I am also an employee of a life insurance company. He was referring to the latest advertisement by Pepsi. Did not make any sense to me. Just like that dog advertisement wherein two dogs are driving a car. Anyway, let me have a biased view of the entire mis-selling story of life insurance policies. Let me go against the populist media coverage which slams the life insurance companies.

 1. Indians want quick fix – Look at cricket. From true form of test match to a diluted version called T20, we have time and again proven that we seriously do not prove in the adage “patience is a virtue”. Even products are so named Eg: Feviquick. Headache pills which guarantee a solution in seconds .. Aah se aaha tak .. So, why would we even consider financial products from long term perspective. The concept of Money back policies is an unparalleled success in this country primarily for that reason; you start getting returns in 3/4 years.

Even the social structure forces us to do everything quickly “Chat mangni pat byaah”. And once that is done with, then next obvious is “When are you becoming a parent? It’s been so long. 10 min is all it takes. Just do it”.

And then you blame insurance guy for pitching you product that would give good return in few years time. Except for PPF an average customer does not look beyond 5 years. In such a scenario why would he go the entire way of telling you the benefits of staying invested for a long time.. Apne to khoon main hi nahin hai.coca-cola

 2. Thanda MATLAB … – Of course you remember this Ad done by the ethical actor. Oye, thanda means refrigerator. Period. You put anything in there it is bound to be thanda. Why not neebu pani? Why not milk? Why not lassi? Marketing purists would debate that it was a great brand strategy. But it is not a fact.

How many guys have really become fair thanks to the “saavla guy who wants to become fair” creams?

How many guys have really attracted heavenly bodies (literally) thanks to the deosprays?

How would you know that your kid has become smarter and fitter and stronger thanks to the various biscuits and energy drinks or s/he is as duffer as you were and you are even now?

Then why blame the hard working and creative sales guy who painstakingly explains that returns may double and bonuses will increase. At least he is banking on growing economy. He did not plan 2008 market fall. I don’t think he had any “thassan” or “khoon nas” with any of the Lehmann brother either.

3. Is he a Yudhistra or a court witness? – main Jo kahunga sach kahunga, sach ke siwai kuch nahi kahunga. When was the last time a jeweler took this oath while selling you stuff. I bet you still don’t know its purity, making cost or even the charges for maintaining the showroom or marketing. But then we go crazy while looking at ULIP charges. I wonder why. At least it is transparent and saying the truth. For decades we have been buying bonus returns under the garb of insurance, yet we do not question the premium amount. Yet we do not question the calculation of returns.

The premise or rather the explanation given is that customers generally are intelligent enough to know what they are buying. It is an era of information and social learning. So then why do you blame the insurance guy? Know insurance. Learn insurance. Buy insurance from a normal salary and commission earning advisor. And just like other brand ambassadors and marketing concepts, do not expect him to be a yudhistra. Many would argue that this is a very myopic view of looking at the entire issue of mis-selling by the life insurance advisors. Many would say that there is more transparency today and hence the knowledge that buying insurance is not the perfect solution for issues of financial planning.

Thank God I would say. Finally if customers are realizing that life insurance is not the panacea to all issues related to financial planning, then many issues would be resolved by default. Most importantly it would bring to forth the most critical aspect of buying a life insurance plan. Just like you would buy a pressure cooker to please your wife as ‘Jo biwi se kare pyaar …’ .. Just like you would overcome your fear by drinking as ‘darr ke aage Jeet hai …’ … Similarly “jisko rakhna hai family ki khushiyon KO barkaraar … Insurance lene se kyun kare woh inkaar”.

Nobody knows whether fear was really overcome by drinking that drink, nobody knows if the wife went crazy over a cooker. But ask the family the value of insurance claim. Ask the value to the advisor who presented that claim. Priceless!

You wanted your choice .. So did BBC

It has been quite some time since the impact of two words ‘My choice’ was unleashed on all. Some of us accepted it, some liked it and quite a few did not buy the concept at all. Individual choice. But some professions .. Professional as well as industries have been impacted by these two words .. For the good or for the bad. Let me share with you some interesting insights about my choice.

“It has really screwed up my KRAs”. The HR guy said looking very dejected. “We are supposed to hire people and at the same time take exit interviews of those who leave.. You know to know what went wrong. But since these 2 dumb words arrived .. Look what has happened. I give an offer letter to a candidate.. He refuses it saying what – MC. (My choice). These days when I interview candidates and ask why they want to leave current organization.. Guess the answer ..MC. MC. It is twice their choice. But the worst is when I try to organize an exit interview of an outgoing employee, they refuse and just say MC. MC. MC. .. And no that is not thrice their choice. In fact it is My choice.Main chala. M** C****.
BBC baba bengali
I felt bad for the poor guy and came across a chemist. He was looking quite chirpy and excited. And I asked him the reason for his happiness. Needless to say the answer was .. You know it by now. My choice. “See this concept is powerful” he started his speech as if he invented the concept. “It empowers the young bold and beautiful to experiment with their sex. Right. That is what it says. Beyond infinity. Beyond society. Just do it. Before marriage. Yes. Unwanted pregnancy you avoid. Many pills at my shop. Your choice. Outside marriage. Again we have protection options. Their choice. No sex. Of course. Yes. We have many pills ‘stay put’. ‘Night long’. ’35+’. ‘Reshma ki jawani’ .. You know we cater to all segments of people… So basically take one pill and you’ll be revitalized to not to say No. Again. Your choice. In fact, we have got a new slogan – Your choice. Our options.”

I don’t think this is what the concept really meant. But typical Indian jugaadu mind managed to tweak it in their favor.

Then one day I got a newspaper insert saying “Huge convention of Baba Bengali’s”. To be inaugrated by Deepika. I was quite amused and thought that this is an event that can’t be missed. The hall was choc a bloc with people from all walks of life. Deepika was indeed there. There were arrangements for a press conference too. “So Deepika, why .. Here?” It was a question by one of the journalist and on everybody’s mind. “My choice”. Not giving up easily, the journalist continued ” what made you choose this event .. As your choice”. Deepika smiled and said “Y treat Babas differently. Their choice to call me here for ‘My choice’. .. “. Another question to her and I would have died of heart failure. Luckily the next question was for the lead Baba Bengali.

” Baba, what is this all about”? He looked at the audience and replied confidently “It is all about My Choice”. By this time I was eager to know who invented the word ..choice. “See as you all know that we are in the business of relieving a person of his worries and anxieties relating to job, sex, money, fights, self sex, anger, disputes, similar or unnatural sex, life, death, animal sex .. And so on… And majority of out clients are males”.
By this time even Deepika was squirming in her seat and asked “Hello. What has this got to do with my concept which deals with women empowerment”?
He replied calmly “Choice. If it is her choice, then it is his chance to become a choice. Right.!!”
“What are you talking about?” Sounding very concerned that the project was becoming something else altogether.
“Of course i am talking about My choice. I mean your concept. Let me explain. So far we have been able to open 125 BBC all over India in less than 10 days and the number is increasing by the hour for the memberships for all these BBCs”.
She was visibly irritated by this time and asked “Now what is BBC as per you”?
“Baba Bengali Choice .. So the short form is BBC. See we have enlisted members across socio economic segments .. We have Gajodhar from small village Chapuria near Kanpur.. We have Abhishek Singhal from Colaba, Mumbai.. We have Raj Khurana from Jaipur .. And so on. It is huge membership base.”
“OK.. So what does BBC do for your members.”
“O dear madam.. It does not help them. It helps you achieve your choice. And through that it helps them… You remember all those issues our clients face.. Especially about sex related issues. Now with your choice of sex outside marriage .. We are creating a database that will fulfill your choice through lots of choices and our clients are also happy.”
Deepika was speechless but managed to shout at the top of her voice “This is so disgusting. I’m not part of this sham”.
He calmly replied “Your choice”.