Largest India Broker May Make Working From Home More Permanent
(Bloomberg) -- ICICI Securities Ltd., India’s largest listed brokerage, is looking at jobs that could be completely moved to a work-from-home model as the coronavirus pandemic forces businesses to re-imagine workplaces.
“We have just about 20% of people coming to the office now so it is possible,” Vijay Chandok, the firm’s chief executive officer, said in a phone interview. “We are thinking very seriously of examining the types of roles and jobs that can become long-term work-from-home.”
Other financial companies around the world have started to look at longer-term telecommuting solutions. JPMorgan Chase & Co. could see a portion of its staff work from home on a rotational basis more permanently. The Investment Management Association of Singapore recently said it expects flexible work arrangements to become more commonplace.
India’s strict stay-at-home curbs have posed a number of hurdles for brokerages. Those with mostly an offline presence have struggled to service customers, while restrictions on movement of people have made it difficult for companies to verify client information.
ICICI Securities has been able to expand in this difficult environment, adding over 100,000 new clients in January-March to boost its total operational accounts to 4.8 million. It posted a 28% jump in net income to 1.5 billion rupees ($19.9 million) for the same period, despite it being the worst quarter ever for the main S&P BSE Sensex index.
“New client acquisition isn’t lumped up in any month, but we did see a rise in number of active clients,” Chandok said. “A steep correction in such a short period of time provided many with an opportunity to enter the market at multi-year low prices.”
The broker’s volumes surged during the volatile first quarter of 2020, to a peak of over 3.2 million trades per day compared with its previous peak of 2 million. The market has rewarded ICICI Securities’ performance, with its shares up 64% from their March 24 low, compared with a 17% rise in the S&P BSE MidCap Index.
“Our predominantly digital business model has held us in good stead, with 97% of equity transactions conducted online by the clients themselves,” Chandok said. “The opportunity is for us to grow faster than what we were growing in the past.”
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