We started the year on an uncertain note hit as we were by aonce-in-a-century health crisis with economic activity across India brought to its kneesby the long lockdown that followed. Through the major part of the year we were confinedto our homes with restricted mobility. The pandemic led to a significant loss of humanlife and now presents a challenge to our public health systems the way we work and evenour social norms.
In the wake of such an unprecedented crisis we had to move quickly andmanage a near overnight transition to a virtual working model. As always our focus duringthese uncertain times was to ensure the health and safety of our employees and tominimise the difficulties faced by our customers. As the pandemic spread across India wetransitioned quickly and effectively to a work from home arrangement in almost everylocation in which we were present. This also included moving all our customer-facingbranch service staff and 15700 frontline sales personnel from a traditional in-personenvironment to a completely virtual one.
Our all-round robust results in the pandemic year stand testament tothe resilience of our differentiated business model - a customer-centric one wellsupported by a diversified distribution architecture market leading innovation and atrusted brand. We ranked consistently amongst the top two private sector companies in theprivate sector in terms of new business premium; closing the year at Rs. 20107 crore witha market share of 21.5%. We registered a growth of 37% in assets under management with anIndian GAAP profit growth of 5% to Rs. 1360 crore. We achieved this amidst an economicslowdown exacerbated by the pandemic liquidity crises in the financial sector anuncertain business environment with changing customer preferences and a volatile stockmarket.
Our strategy of having diverse distribution channels helped us tideacross a year that witnessed disruption in our 'face to face' networks including ourbranches that were largely closed in the first half of the year. These disruptionsnotwithstanding we continued to add a wide range of partners and have successfully closedthe year at 300+ partners including 50+ in the emerging
ecosystem. We continue to invest in the growth of our proprietarychannels - agency direct and online especially strengthening their technologicalcapabilities to support the 'new normal' of operations and to cater to changing customerpreferences. We believe that we can leverage our strong distribution network to act as atech-powered distributor of financial products in India and sweat our assets even better.We continue to engage with the regulator to allow life insurers to distribute non-lifefinancial products such as health indemnity and NPS given the large opportunityavailable to utilise our distribution network to help improve financial inclusion anddeepen insurance penetration in India.
While we continue to invest to enhance our technological capabilitiesI feel that the time is right for the regulator to allow life insurers in India to evolvefurther and be the 'disruptor' rather than the 'disrupted'. There are examples in Asia andmore developed markets where life insurers have created subsidiaries and orchestratedecosystems to make insurance a more holistic offering for the customer. For example inAsia one of the leading insurers has created a healthcare ecosystem that includesservices like online medical consultation. Elsewhere in Europe a leading insurer hascreated a separate digital investment unit to evaluate and invest in fintech start-ups.
During the year HDFC Life shares were included in the Nifty50 indexand with this HDFC Life became the third company after HDFC Bank and HDFC Ltd. from theHDFC Group to be featured in one of India's benchmark indices. HDFC Life also raised Rs.600 crore funds through the issuance of non-convertible debentures on private placementbasis. The issue was rated "AAA" with a stable outlook by both Crisil and ICRA.
Despite operational challenges we insured close to 4 crore lives in FY2020-21 and settled over 2.9 lakh death claims that resulted in the beneficiariescumulatively being paid over Rs. 3000 crore. We see this as the most meaningful impact ofour business on society and it drives us to keep growing and protecting the financialfuture of Indians. At HDFC Life supporting communities has been embedded via theCompany's culture of 'Giving'. Using our capabilities and resources we are determined tomake a difference to the society and the larger community around us. We currently manage22 CSR projects across 24 states and 3 union territories in the areas of educationhealthcare livelihood generation and COVID disaster relief impacting over 2.3 lakhbeneficiaries.
In FY 2020-21 we have also insured 2.1 crore lives throughmicrofinance institutions.
As I close I would like to thank and express my deep gratitude to allour employees partners and shareholders for their trust in HDFC Life. I would also liketo thank IRDAI for providing a very supporting regulatory environment in the absence ofwhich our industry might have struggled. We are continually rethinking and realigning thefuture of our work environment and learning to adapt and excel in a volatile businessenvironment. With sustained efforts I am certain that we will be able to protect thehealth and livelihood of people and ensure that our 'new normal' is a better one.
Deepak S. Parekh