Venkat Raman –
Seventeen years may be a tiny dot on the vast canvas of time but for a company, these mark a significant signpost, setting inimitable standards of integrity and honesty.
Ajay Kumar, Managing Director of Global Finance (GF), arguably the largest mortgage and insurance broker (with the value of loans arranged thus far placed at $4 billion and total insurance cover at $2.5 billion), is a man with a vision and a mission.
When he arrived in New Zealand in May 1998 with more than 25 years of banking experience in his native India, he came with the dream of becoming a mortgage and insurance broker.
His modesty did not allow him to think beyond the garage from which he operated with a table, chair and telephone.
“I will make a difference to a few people by offering them my experience and expertise in dealing with a bank, get them loans and engage with an insurance firm to get them proper cover. This is a small market,” he told himself.
He was wrong.
Mr Kumar became the instrument of his own success and the growing demand for his services encouraged him to launch GF Services Limited (GFSL) on May 5, 1999, which shortly thereafter moved to the current facility in Airport Oaks in the South Auckland suburb of Mangere, close to the Auckland International Airport.
His business took off instantly, the one-man operation began to slowly expand.
About seven months later, Indian Newslink was established (on November 15, 1999), destined as though to promote an otherwise publicity-shy Mr Kumar.
That partnership has grown and today, GF features regularly in this publication with news of the honours and citations that Mr Kumar and his company receive from a number of national institutions.
Even as the company took baby steps, Mr Kumar was uncompromising on commitment, loyalty, quality of products, innovation, cleanliness in administration, and most important of all, unblemished service to customers. More than 32 Awards given by major commercial banks, insurance companies and Indian Newslink bear testimony to the high calibre and competence of Mr Kumar and his qualified and motivated team.
One of the finest attributes of GF is meticulous planning, comprehensive documentation and unambiguous dealing with customers. Every individual who enters the portals of this company would be treated with utmost respect, confidence and professionalism. Each would have an opportunity to understand the terms of a mortgage loan or an insurance policy, choice of the institution to deal with and a detailed plan of fiscal management.
“We must listen to our customers and do everything in our power to meet their demands. There is no appeal to their requirements. We are nothing without them. All of us are totally committed to our customers,” Mr Kumar says at every press conference or interview.
Interest Saver Plan
Mr Kumar developed a special formula which enables customers to manage their finances smartly and repay their loans early. Called, ‘Interest Saver Plan’ it has helped thousands of customers to achieve a combined saving of $100 million.
Just how he does it is a well-guarded secret but the fact that it has been commended by banks and others is testified by a number of awards and citations.
Deloitte honoured GF with the ‘Fastest Growing Mature Business in Auckland and Upper North Island Award’ (under its ‘Fast50 Award Scheme’) at a ceremony held at Queen’s Wharf in Auckland on September 21, 2016.
The Award recognised businesses that are 15 or more years old recording the highest rate of growth and according to available information, high growth companies in finance, travel and tourism, education, retail, manufacturing and technology are among the entrants.
GF was the only mortgage and insurance advisor to win the Award this year, testifying what we wrote in our August 1, 2016 issue: “The value of mortgage finance arranged by the Company during the past financial year alone was an impressive $831 million, accounting for more than 40% growth over the previous year. Accounting for 115 bank holidays during the year, the total amount arranged as mortgage loans works out to $3.4 million per day, a feat that would certainly be a record in New Zealand.”
In a fast-changing world of technology and loyalty, retention of customers is often more difficult than securing them in the first place. How GF has achieved not only a high rate of customer retention but also an increasing number of referrals through existing clients is an inimitable story of openness and choice. Every customer, whose application for a mortgage loan would stand the assessment and approval of the lending institution, would be required to (a) read, understand, approve and accept the terms and conditions of the loan (b) exercise the choice of the bank in order of preference (c) disclose the statements that are necessary to establish and maintain a close working client relationship (d) exercise the choice of allowing GF to monitor their performance (e) enjoy the exceptional service provided by Mr Kumar and his team.
Insurance is another area that has not only brought solace to thousands of customers but has also spelt enviable success to GF.
“While many people say that they need insurance, they may not be fully aware of the nuances involved. They should understand why they need an insurance policy, who are they trying to protect and what are the products that are available in the market. At GF, we provide an obligation-free initial consultation,” he said.
As done in the case of customers who seek mortgage loans, Mr Kumar and his insurance team assess the needs of customers on an individual, case-by-case basis, types of insurance cover suitable, ability to meet premium payments and other obligations. More importantly, they enable customers to choose the insurance company and guide them through the process.
Reaching to Customers
Geographic expansion comes as a part of growth but Mr Kumar has thus far resisted the temptation to branch out operations.
However, the increasing number of customers from various parts of Auckland and the fast-changing lifestyle in the country’s largest city has prompted him to reach out to customers and add to their convenience.
He has just finalised the purchase of a building in Henderson, West Auckland to open the first branch of GF outside its headquarters in Mangere, South Auckland.
- Ajay Kumar receives the ‘Excellence in Marketing Award’ from Michael Barnett, Chief Executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce at the Westpac Auckland Business Awards 2016
- Aseem Aggarwal (right) and Saurabh Gupta at the Westpac Awards