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Changing Male-dominated Narrative via Financial Literacy

Specialized health and general insurance products and equity investments have started gaining popularity among womenElizabeth Venkataraman

Kotak Mahindra Bank has 4 strategic business units – consumer banking, corporate banking, commercial banking and treasury – catering to retail and corporate customers across India. With a national footprint of 1603 branches and 2573 ATMs and branches in GIFT City and DIFC (Dubai), the bank holds a bold vision that underscores the group’s growth as an inclusive one, with a host of products and services designed to address the needs of the unbanked and under-banked. Elizabeth Venkataraman, Joint President, Consumer, Commercial & Wealth Marketing, stresses that the bank has seen a steady increase – both in terms of acquisition of new women customers as well as their contribution in value terms.

Recent Finserv Demands

There has been 93% increase in leads and 47% increase in visits for personal loans on Kotak website after SEO rank improvement and personalization. Elizabeth discusses 2 customer profiles – homemakers and salaried: “Homemakers continue to invest in safer options like FDs and gold; on the other hand, the risk-taking capacity of the working segment is increasing and the segment’s constituents have also started regularly investing in mutual funds especially through the SIP route. Apart from the above, specialized health insurances/general insurance products and equity investments have also started gaining popularity among women.”

Kotak Silk, the bank’s program exclusively for women, is designed keeping the above factors mind. Helping women in their journey towards financial independence is one of the key pillars of the program and Elizabeth says the focus is on this key emerging need among women through initiatives around financial education and imparting information among women and giving them access to networking opportunities.

Kotak Silk program provides women with the best offers in finance, dining, health and lifestyle, empowering them to do more. It is designed for the banking needs of today’s women – financially informed women. A customer enjoys higher debit card withdrawal limits with no annual fees on Ace Accounts. Using Kotak Silk Debit Card, customers can spend without worry, anywhere, anytime. “A Kotak Silk customer enjoys a special 35% discount on locker rentals for the first year, discount on best compliments card, and gets a 50% discount on the issuance fee on this card,” says Elizabeth.

All the Kotak Silk customers have access to the bank’s mobile banking app, which offers a convenient and secure way for customers to digitally transact using the 180 plus features.

Changes Expected

Elizabeth maintains that there are certain changes in demand for financial services that are expected among women customers in the next 2 years. “These are likely with regard to investment knowledge and education, simple, safe tools for investment, convenience, flexibility and customization when It comes to product and services. The changes are expected in terms of customers being communicated about financial services in a language and manner that they prefer – de-jargonised communication, with simpler processes. Home finance is a major area where such changes are expected,” she says.

What Women Prefer

She also points out that compared to men, women prefer certain financial products more and certain others less. In fact, they prefer simpler, safe investment tools, and are more inclined towards saving/investing towards specific goals, she says, pointing out that products like FDs / RDs have been favored by them traditionally. “However, in the last few years, we have seen women customers, especially the salaried base, also opting for mutual funds and health insurance for self and parents,” she adds.


Kotak Mahindra Bank has been creating financial literacy campaigns, including online, targeted at women customers. “We conduct regular online and offline events across India wherein speakers from the bank discuss financial literacy and education. We have also introduced a full series of video-based tutorials on digital banking adoption. This is available on YouTube as an easy playlist. As part of o Parichay program, we have organized various women financial literacy sessions at individual Kotak bank branches,” says Elizabeth.

The bank has started conducting an informative education series on financial matters for customers of Kotak Silk, under an initiative called ‘SheisTheChange’. Started on 6 March, the webinar features leading female financial experts, who enlighten Kotak Silk customers on financial independence through saving, investments and financial behaviour. The 30-minute session is followed by a Q&A round where the expert clears the doubts that the attendees may have.

Says Elizabeth: “Women are often dependent on male members of the family for financial advice. Through this initiative, we want to change this male-dominated narrative. Why shouldn’t a woman take control of her money matters? Women today are making a mark in every field. They have every right to take charge of their finances in the way they like. SheIsTheChange calls upon all women to lead, take charge of their financial matters and make well informed financial choices.”

The webinars are going to be interactive and explanatory and will help in calming the financial worries of Kotak Silk patrons. The first chapter of the series featured chartered accountant Rachana Ranade, who talked about the basics of investing. The second chapter, being aired on 17 March, will feature CFP Shweta Jian, who will speak on financial planning for women.

Kotak Silk has also launched a website dedicated to financial knowledge – The website features financial tutorial videos, articles, and webinars.

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