Panel Discussion: Future of Work in Wealth Management at 2nd Financial Talent Summit, Delhi -2019


Industry Expert Panelists: 1) Ashish Kashyap, founder & CEO of INDwealth 2) Soumya Rajan, Founder, MD & CEO Waterfield Advisors 3) Rajendra Kalur, CFA, Management consultant & Board member for CFA Society India

Discussion moderated by: Gaurav Kaushik, CFA ,Associate Director, Kotak Wealth Management

Written By : Jyoti Soni, CFA

The 2nd Financial Talent Summit held in Delhi saw an active participation from more than two hundred delegates. The momentum continued post lunch when the panel discussion started on the eagerly awaited topic – “Future of work in wealth Management”.

Gaurav initiated the discussion by highlighting the rapid growth that has taken place in the wealth management industry recently. The AUM of the Indian mutual fund industry grew more than 3 times from INR 8 lakh crore to INR 25 lakh crore in the last 4 years. More remarkably, India’s Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) size jumped multi-fold from INR 6 thousand crore in 2015 to INR 2 lakh crore today. In the post demonetisation era, the structural landscape has changed for better and the industry is expected to grow at a double-digit rate until 2025. Formalization of Industry has resulted in an acceptance of investment vehicles from physical assets to financial assets. This transition can be attributed to several reasons like –

  • Acceptance of financial securities as collateral: Earlier, the business community would invest heavily in real estate as it was the most acceptable security by the banks while approving business loans. Today, for the same purpose, banks are giving equal weight to the ownership in financial securities. Subsequently, businessmen have shifted their investments to financial securities for better returns and liquidity.
  • Building a diversified portfolio: Ploughing back of profits was a common practice followed by the promoters but now they are open to diversify their portfolio to achieve optimal results.
  • Better Estate Planning: Today, family owned businesses have a very clear succession plan. If the family is not interested or competent to manage the business, they would not hesitate to look for sale opportunities. The proceeds received from sale are often invested in financial instruments with the help of competent wealth managers.
  • Emergence of family offices: A culture of family office has emerged since the last four years and this trend is expected to continue

Ashish mentioned that even today we have only 16 million demat accounts for a population of 1.25 billion people. He further opined that even big players are just scratching the surface.  Industry is highly under penetrated despite presence of many organized wealth management platforms which have been launched in last 10 years. He recalled the pain points that he had to face as a customer that led him to eventually get into this business and focus his products to be more client centric.  Ashish strongly advocated that future of the wealth management industry would be driven by technology i.e. Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning (ML). Technology will enable an environment for a) data science, b) accessibility and democratization of information, c) cost-efficient structure d) convenience of personalized service. It was suggested that a customer should be first convinced for trust, governance, seamless transaction service and transparency before adopting a wealth management platform.

Rajendra Kalur shared the changes he has seen in the ways investment advisors approach their clients today from the time he made a shift from being an employee with some of the big wealth advisors to an entrepreneur. He mentioned that earlier the role of an investment advisor and a sales personnel was performed by the same person and products were sold on commission basis. The situation has changed for better now. The investment advisors in his advisory firm are dutiful, sector agnostic, fund agnostic and ethical. An investment advisor should be trustworthy and capable of bringing solutions to the client.  He believes that the CFA level-3 exam curriculum provides a very good guide on how to go about the wealth management process. Also the importance of ethics is instilled deeply into the candidates as the program progresses from the first level to the third level. Ethics lays a foundation for a long term sustainable advisory relationship.  He also highlighted the expertise that an investment advisory board can bring to a large client.

Soumya Rajan emphasized further to the right service level of a wealth manager. She believes that an advisor needs to have a good balance of IQ & EQ. A wealth management company should not be like a manufacturer of financial products and then as an advisor on the same products as this leads to conflict of interest and misselling. Rather a wealth manager should aspire to find the best solution for the client. A manager should understand client’s investment limitations and goals and set his expectations right. This will make him a successful wealth manager.

To conclude, the role of new emerging wealth management platforms and boutique wealth managers is very critical. Wealth management industry needs many boutique wealth managers to serve the large untapped base of clients. CFA curriculum is globally recognized for high standards of ethics and best technical knowledge. CFA charter holders are capable of imparting good services to their clients. Today’s wealth managers require adoption of technology for efficiently serving their customers. India’s GDP growth of 7% p.a. and an under penetrated market promises a big show ahead for this industry.


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