Listing Improves the Stature of the Organisation, Hence Attracting Good Talent Becomes Easier: Rajesh Derhgawen, Nippon Life India AMC 3519

Nippon India Mutual Fund

Nippon Life India AMC went public in 2017 and since then the asset management company has seen a significant shift in culture. Rajesh Derhgawen, CHRO, Nippon Life India Asset Management tells All Things Talent how the organisation prepared for the listing, its outcome and the diversity philosophy of hiring from other industries

Nippon India Mutual Fund
Rajesh Derhgawen, CHRO, Nippon Life India Asset Management Ltd (NAM-INDIA)

Could you give an overview of Nippon India MF from the perspective of employees?

NAM India or Nippon Life India AMC is part of and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nippon Life Insurance, Japan, a 130+ years old Fortune 111 company and one of the largest Life Insurance organisations in the world.

With such a great legacy and with a culture defined by people care, entrepreneurship and empowerment, open and 2-way communication and emphasis on a fine balance of business and people priorities, we have been driving business and people success for over 25+ years.

Our strong people culture is the soul of the organisation and is our biggest competitive advantage for sustainable growth.

We are in the business of creating long-term wealth for all our investors and helping them meet their dreams of financial freedom! This is a pure people business and hence we keep focus on our employees as our most valued asset.

As the NAMI team, we have always focused on providing priority to employee & family well-being, care, safety and emotional support and comfort through multiple connect and care interventions.

Employee focus has been ingrained in the company’s culture and our HR team has been proactive over the years to keep launching employee-friendly initiatives to help improve their productivity and motivation

Engagement and celebrations include the family members, children, parents. Celebrations and connecting with the family directly like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and on special milestone achievements are some of the ways we keep our talent together and engaged.

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You have been with the company for close to 17 years, what is your observation of how the talent needs of the company evolved over the years? How is the talent demand, then and now?

Actually, the talent needed in any organisation is a function of what your business focuses on at that time and how the industry is evolving. So, 17 years is a pretty long time and we have evolved from primarily an Equity / Debt-based MF company to a ‘true blue’ Asset Management Business with as diverse lines as MF, ETF, PMS. AIF includes Real Estate, Venture Capital & Private Equity, International Business to Gift City amongst others. And add to that huge focus on Risk Management, Compliance and Governance functions due to regulatory changes and also because we are now a listed entity.

The last 4 -5 years have also seen a huge focus on Digital Business, AI / ML, Data Science and Analytics etc which only got amplified due to Pandemic. Most of these changes are also an industry phenomenon thereby, leading to a very high demand for these skills.

I think all of the above have evolved gradually, but the Pandemic has really transformed digital play and allied skills big time.

In the last few years and with the #NewNormal in focus, the shift in having #FutureReady talent and the need for dipping in the geographically large/open talent pool has gone up. Also increased is the need to ensure concurrency in the organisation’s practices and policies to have this talent retained and engaged beyond salary, pay and perks. 

 Has growing MF awareness created any talent shortage for the industry? 

The phenomenal growth of the industry coupled with the advent of a large number of new AMCs backed by distribution companies, private equity, fintech companies etc. has led to a war for talent in the core areas of the business from fund management to sales & operations.  

Nippon India Mutual Fund went public in 2017. How much has the IPO changed or modified the work culture?

The only significant change that we see due to the IPO is that today, all our employees understand how important it is for all of us to comply with multiple statutory requirements due to the listing of the company. Hence, there is a culture of 100 % compliance with all the laws of the land and zero tolerance for any violations.

The only significant change that we see due to the IPO is that today, all our employees understand how important it is for all of us to comply with multiple statutory requirements due to the listing of the company. Hence, there is a culture of 100 % Compliance with all the Laws of the land and Zero Tolerance for any violations.

It was important to ensure the concurrency of practices along with the statutory need for open and transparent communication and process adherence, at all levels.

So, getting people prepared was definitely one important agenda, especially from communication and compliance perspectives:

Communication: We had to sensitise the teams on who can communicate what and whatnot. We ensured that everyone understands what is “material, non-public information”, as everything that happens within the four walls of the company after the IPO, could technically and potentially be made public. The focus clearly was on what people can’t say rather than focusing only on what they can say.

We had our key leadership teams going through extensive media training on who, what, when & how of the communication strategy.

Compliance: We had extensive communication and training around insider trading so that everyone understands the concept and the cost of non–compliance for the organisation very well. Our Code of Conduct was suitably changed and guidelines and internal penal provisions were suitably provided. 

The employees were also made to understand that, post IPO, their actions/contributions can potentially impact a very large number of public shareholders. It was important to ingrain this thought process of a larger sense of responsibility and accountability beyond one’s own team or company.

Could you give us background on the kind of investments made in the HR department pre or post IPO – how did that help you in managing the IPO?

 We have always believed that the key to handling any situation are:

  •     On-time and need-based capability building in required areas and departments 
  •     Ensured better control and process management
  •     Proactive preparedness/readiness
  •     Leadership and employee mindset alignment for a common objective
  •     And most importantly, a positive mindset

Enhancing the employee experience and positive investments in HRMS, engagements, learning and development, interventions, career development, people care and well-being, family connect were done per regular and planned strategic initiatives.

How has ESOPs as an instrument impacted people policies, HR practices in the company? What are the other R&R benefits that are available to the employees?

ESOPs have helped us in defining the “Total Compensation” philosophy and have definitely impacted our key talent attraction strategy and their retention in the long term.

ESOPs are an integral part of our compensation and rewards philosophy. The focus is on aligning the team to the overall organisational performance and is a great tool for long–term wealth creation for our talent. This has definitely helped us retain our top talent and build a team with clearly a long–term focus. 

The biggest impact the ESOP programme has had on the employees is that they understand clearly that ESOPs are granted when high performance and potential is displayed. Besides, this has surely led to higher tenure in the organisation given the long–term nature of the reward. 

There are many reward and recognition platforms for the employees like Star of the Quarter, Innovation Hub, Value Awards, CEO Club, LEAP Club, Sales Awards, etc. but the CEO’s Club talent pool is the biggest example of rewarding our high potential employees with a great learning experience and rewarding fast track career growth.

Also read: How `Make in India’ Cloud Player ESDS is Navigating its IPO Plans

Were there any global HR practices that were implemented in the country – through the company’s parentage from Japan?

The biggest positive post the NLI transition is the evolution of our culture. Today, it’s a fine amalgamation of all the key elements of our core culture of empowerment, quick decision making, leadership connect, innovation and people care and a very high focus on Process, Risk, Compliance, Corporate Governance and CSR imbibed from NLI, Japan.

The biggest positive post the NLI transition is the evolution of our culture. Today, it’s a fine amalgamation of all the key elements of our core culture of empowerment, quick decision making, leadership connect, innovation and people care and a very high focus on Process, Risk, Compliance, Corporate Governance and CSR imbibed from NLI, Japan.

We have adopted some of the best global practices around the core areas of risk management, investments, compliance and process orientation and the international Employee Exchange & Best Practice sharing programme.

What would be your five key learnings in dealing with employee expectations pre and post IPO? What is the impact of TA following the listing?

  •               Communicate the expectations very clearly
  •               Train people on strict compliance
  •               Train leaders on who, what, when & how of the communication strategy.
  •               Wealth creation
  •               Internal transparency across functions

Post the listing, the stature of the organisation goes up and hence attracting good talent becomes easier.

What has been the attrition rate at Nippon India MF pre and post IPO and what do you think changed?

Our attrition has been well under control and one of the lowest amongst the industry peers and IPO has not materially impacted this.

We have a huge focus on hiring people from the outside, not just the asset management or mutual fund companies, but outside the entire banking and financial services. We have more than 80 percent of the Senior Leadership team from Non-AMC and 80 percent are Home-grown Leaders. These initiatives have led us to achieve more than 19 percent female diversity. Our Non- AMC hiring has been at 55 percent and Non-BFSI hiring at 37 percent.

In a TOI interview, it was mentioned that Nippon India MF focuses on hiring from outside the sector or from different organisations. What is the rationale behind it?  In fact, that seems to be a diversity approach for the firm.

The way we define diversity goes much beyond the traditional purview/definition and encompasses different perspectives and thought processes. We bring diversity by hiring people from different types of organisations and different sectors. So, we have a huge focus on hiring people from the outside, not just the asset management or mutual fund companies, but outside the entire banking and financial services. We have more than 80% of the senior leadership team from non-AMC and 80 percent of home-grown leaders.

Equally and vocally focused on women’s talent development, NIMF also runs an exclusive programme for women, called Pankh, which focuses on their professional & personal development, through dedicated learning interventions, mentoring by industry leaders, leadership competency development and other exclusive programmes. We proudly showcase our female leaders and their contribution across all our external social media platforms under the initiative “SPOTLIGHT”

These initiatives have led us to achieve more than 19 percent female diversity. Our non- AMC hiring has been at 55 percent and non-BFSI hiring at 37 percent.

Registered Name of the Company: Nippon Life India Asset Management Ltd.
Year of Incorporation: 1955
Number of Employees: 1000 approx.
Key Executives:
a. Sundeep Sikka, ED& CEO
b. Manish Gunwani, CIO – Equity
c. Amit Tripathi, CIO – Debt
d. Saugata Chatterjee, Co-Chief Business Officer
e. Aashwin Dugal, Co-Chief Business Officer
f. Rajesh Derghawen, CHRO
g. Abhijit Shah, CTO
Business Line: Asset Management Company
Key HR Factor: Flexi- work hours, 100% digital HR process, Diversity not just in male/female ratio but also across industry segments, Stable leadership team- the average tenure of 10+ years, State of the art Oracle HRMS suite for HR, Skincare and CultFit for employee and family health and wellness- mental, physical and physiological requirements, Superior and 2-way open communication, Leadership access to all employees, CEO Club, Innovation Hub

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Rajesh Derhgawen strongly believes that the HR function is a key strategic link in any business which can add tremendous value through leveraging human capital. He has in-depth experience and proven capabilities in building, nurturing, engaging and retaining a top-performing team in a very dynamic environment, and can help create an enabling culture for the business to grow.

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