At half-past three on a Thursday afternoon, we are ushered into a lounge on the 6 th floor of Bajaj Finserv’s Pune headquarters. We’re here to meet Sanjiv Bajaj, vice-chairman of the holding company which owns, in terms of market cap, the country’s second-largest non-banking finance company (NBFC); the most-profitable private general insurance company and the biggest private life insurer in terms of lives covered. Bajaj steps out of a marathon executive meeting to speak with us but appears relaxed and unhurried as he settles down to talk about his company’s metamorphosis over the past decade.
An engineer from Britain’s University of Warwick and with an MBA from Harvard Business School, the 47-year-old Bajaj took over the financial services business in 2008 in a division of the family business that saw elder brother Rajiv taking charge of the automobile business. It may not have seemed like the best deal at that point in time: the business that Sanjiv got was a far cry from the financial powerhouse it is today; Finserv was a loss-making entity while Rajiv throttled away on a more profitable group flagship. But that was then. From a loss of ₹32 crore in FY08, Finserv&nbs