Target is to get people to live happily ever after



Gourav Rakshit is the business head of shaadi.com, India's leading online matrimonial service.

What are the reasons for the rapid growth of India's e-matrimony business?

One of the main reasons is the growing internet penetration in India. And two, our ever-increasing popularity itself has propelled growth. We are completing 15 years of operation this October. Our service has resulted in more than 2 million marriages around the world. We have been listed among India's most innovative companies. With 20 million subscribers, we are one of the largest online matrimonial portals in India.

How does shaadi.com tackle concerns among customers about online safety and data confidentiality?

We provide Shaadi SEAL, a free profile attestation service. If your profile has the stamp of Shaadi SEAL - screened, examined and attested label - it means that we have checked your details and obtained documentary proof for key information like telephone number, residential address, educational qualifications, profession. Also, we place a watermark across photographs displayed on profiles, so that they are not used for anything unethical.

Given that subscription to an e-matrimonial site may end upon finding a partner, are there new products or services you are exploring to offer customers to ensure greater length of subscriptions?

Our mission is to get people married - shaadi.com is all about helping you connect with a partner so you can live happily ever after. Currently, we aren't considering going beyond the marriage space, but we are weighing options of entering the post-wedding market to offer services like wedding planning, catering, and cards distribution.

UNSC Elections 2022-23

Seats open:

  • Two for Africa Group
  • One for Asia-Pacific Group (traditionally Arab state or Tunisia)
  • One for Latin America and Caribbean Group
  • One for Eastern Europe Group

Countries so far running: 

  • UAE
  • Albania 
  • Brazil 

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

The specs

Engine: Single front-axle electric motor
Power: 218hp
Torque: 330Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 402km (claimed)
Price: From Dh215,000 (estimate)
On sale: September