Looks like the headline caught your attention. Who wouldn’t like to be a millionnaire, right? Well, Shifali Satsangee can help you achieve that dream if you are willing to put away just a small percentage of your income in the right growth avenues, diligently, every month without fail for the rest of your working life. If you started your journey when she began hers, with her wealth management and investment advisory firm – Funds Ve’daa – back in 2002, chances are you already are a millionnaire by now! Armed with a degree in Economics and an MBA in Marketing, Shifali experienced the dearth of wise money managers especially in tier 2 cities like Agra where she lives and works. A SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) analysis of the market along with her Chartered Accountant husband Sahib Satsangee, led her to believe that there was a definite need for trustworthy advice in the financial management and investment space. Funds Ve’daa was born with an aim to focus all energies on one investment avenue that had the potential to generate high returns – Mutual Funds.
Catering to HNIs
Instead of looking for new markets, Shifali began by approaching High Networth Individuals – the businessmen of the industrial and exporter city of Agra, who were already Sahib’s clients.
“We decided to focus on one group amongst Sahib’s clients, which was channelizing its funds only into RBI Bonds at that time and had absolutely no insight about other avenues of investments. And since then there has been no looking back. A sense of contentment follows while we deliberate that the Group is still with us and has been bringing in new clients through their kind referrals,” she says.
Funds Ve’daa is extremely client centric and has a more entrepreneurial approach rather than an advisory approach. With AUMs of over Rs 300 Crore and a growing SIP book of over Rs 1.5 Crore per month, the firm is always working towards enhancing client experience and adding more value to every portfolio that it handles.
“Apart from our Core services, we also provide, parallel services like, accounting and taxation, au gratis, which is our USP. Over the years, we have realized that being customer-centric and not product-centric has worked to our advantage. And that, the ‘Marketing’ approach has stood us in good stead than the ‘Selling’ approach,” says Shifali.
The Ability to say NO
Shifali is not driven by the size of a potential client’s portfolio and is rather keen on educating the client and working with his/her level of financial understanding.
She says, “We have had clients who were not matured enough to handle a particular product category, clients who have loans to repay, clients who are not or under insured, insisting on investing in mutual funds. We firmly refuse to accept such investments and advice them to first repay the debts, get sufficiently covered, even if it means us losing business. This approach has held us in good stead with clients realizing our integrity and coming back to us after the needful is done.”
Being a Woman Wealth Manager
Women in leadership positions in the finance sector are still few and far between not just in India but around the world as well. In fact, according to the Marsh & McLennan Companies report on “Women in Financial Services 2016”, the growth rate observed over the last 30 years of women on boards and executive committees of financial institutions, is not likely to reach even 30% globally by 2048!
Shifali experiences the perception of investments and money management being the man’s domain, first hand. Although with changing times, women are slowly but surely taking centre stage in the field of finance. And Shifali strongly believes there are clear advantages of investing with a woman financial advisor.
She says, “Of the three main varieties of empathy – cognitive, emotional and empathetic concern – women on an average outdo men. It is in their DNA to be high on EQ (emotional quotient). We have learnt that the role of Behavioural Finance cannot be undermined. We are more than just advisors who configure the products to the client needs, we are also psychologists wherein we need to handle human behaviour. And this is another area where women outdo men.”
Technology – the game changer!
As technology revolutionizes our world, financial management is no exception. With the advent of robo-advisors, online transaction platforms and various tech tools for financial planning, management and reporting, a firm that wants to stay afloat has to stay ahead of the tech curve and Funds Ve’daa is well ahead on that journey. It has invested in technology, integrated it into the business and is well equipped with strong back end infrastructure for wealth management and analytics as well as a user friendly front end that ensures transparency with clients.
Shifali says, “Technology is permeating the advisory and distribution ecosystem on various fronts. As advisors, we need to adapt to what we see, as the “bionic” future and leverage technology to enable us to work smarter, faster and more efficiently in a seamless fashion. To make our business scalable, we embraced the online medium moving from just referral based mode by having a virtual address or a web address. We also have provided our clientele with a dedicated Wealth-E Desk wherein they have online access to their portfolios. We are also in the process of developing a mobile app for clients on the move.”
Awareness poor, opportunities galore!
In an emerging economy like ours, financial planning and advisory are still at a nascent stage. As the industry matures, so will awareness and market penetration levels. In territories like Agra where Funds Ve’daa operates, the acceptance of financial planning with fees is still limited. It is here that Shifali believes AMCs and regulators can play a key role and some notable ones are already taking the initiative. With the investible surplus in our country still largely being routed towards traditional investment vehicles like Fixed Deposits, there is huge potential for firms like Funds Ve’daa to channelize investor interest into newer avenues like Mutual Funds.
“Creation of wealth is happening rapidly, especially in second-tier cities and the proportion of the wealth believed to be in organized wealth management is less than 10% approximately. Also there is hardly any formal wealth management landscape and expertise, the advisory component of wealth management only really being minimal. Therefore, huge potential lies in filling this need and the lacunae in this domain. The mutual fund industry has already touched Rs 20 lakh crores recently post demonetisation. And there is no looking back,” says Shifali.