The new age adviser

Advisers are realizing the need to adapt and evolve which is helping them be on top of their game.
By Ravi Samalad |  17-05-17 | 
 
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About the Author
Ravi Samalad is Assistant Manager - Editoral for Morningstar.in.

Rising incomes and declining interest rates have made investors look for never avenues to grow wealth. This shift has made wealth management business a lucrative opportunity for many. And mutual funds continue to be the bread and butter for advisers. Investors who weathered the crashes and ups and downs of different market cycles have grown their wealth through mutual funds immensely. So have advisers. The image of the neighborhood agent carrying application forms has undergone a change. Today the most successful advisers are being driven in  Mercedes and BMWs.

Building Rs 100 crore AUA which was once considered a benchmark of success is not a tall order anymore. There are enough examples of advisers tasting success in a short span of time by tapping HNIs and corporates.

If we look back and trace the journey so far, there are some clear trends which helped the industry leapfrog to where we are today. The 2009 entry load ban was viewed as a hindrance to the growth of the industry. Though the ban did force many small advisers to shut shop and look for greener pastures, (We also saw some AMCs calling it quits) those who had a decent AUA continued, with less margins, and are today enjoying the fruits of their perseverance. The rapid growth in the AUM of the industry is testament to this trend. From Rs 7 lakh crore assets in July 2009, when the entry load ban came into force, the industry today boasts an asset size of Rs 19 lakh crore. The equity assets (excluding balanced funds and ETFs) too have grown from Rs 1.56 lakh crore to Rs 5 lakh crore during this period. This astounding growth has been achieved despite AMCs and advisers having to adapt to a fast-evolving regulatory regime.

Regulations forced advisers to adapt and evolve. A common concern among advisers post the entry load ban was investors reluctance to cut two separate cheques. While Indian investors are still averse to paying fee, there is growing evidence of advisers earning a fee for their services.

Besides, the industry is bracing up for some serious competition with the entry of new players. We are seeing private bankers, senior executives working in wealth management firms and even AMC officials quitting their cushy jobs to set up advisory firms. We have already seen private equity investors investing in robo advisory firms and picking up stakes in established advisory firms to get a slice of the growing wealth pie.

The professionalism and maturity seen among today’s advisers is by virtue of the following shift among advisers’ mindset:

Business

Advisers are treating their practice as business; not just as a part-time profession to supplement their incomes. To achieve tangible results, advisers are working towards their business plans by constantly reviewing their progress. They are investing in their business by setting up offices in different locations and training and hiring the right talent.

To diversify their sources of revenues, some IFAs have even set up their own PMS.

Team

Gone are days when an adviser would perform all tasks (client acquisition, research, execution, back office, after-sales service) singlehandedly. Advisers are now aware of the benefits of delegation and how having a dedicated resource for each function streamlines processes and brings in efficiencies, leaving them more time to spend with clients.

Networked

They recognize that that to get new clients and broaden their perspective it is essential to be well-networked. Not only they have clients spread across the globe, they also have affiliations with international IFA associations like Financial Planning Association to exchange ideas with global peers.

Technology

Many advisers are going digital to scale up and bring in efficiencies. From client onboarding to after sales, technology is becoming inherent in every task performed by advisers. In fact, a Mumbai based adviser has formed a technology firm by investing Rs 1 crore from his pocket which is helping his company automate.

To overcome the robo-adviser threat, many advisers are investing in developing their own mobile apps and facilitating transactions through their websites.

Knowledge  

Advisers are recognizing the need for continuous education to be competitive. Offering solutions to the complex issues requires them to know what they are talking. Recognizing this need, many advisers are taking up vocational courses like CFA/CFP to deepen their knowledge. Besides, they are also de-jargoning this knowledge for investors in awareness seminars.

Partnerships

Advisers have realized the need to offer a host of services under one roof. Apart from advising on different products, advisers are forging partnerships with lawyers, chartered accountants and other professionals in order to meet the diverse goals of clients.

Succession

While many advisers would prefer to pass on their business or the trail income to a family member, some are institutionalizing their practice and choosing leaders outside of the family to take on the baton. The trend of advisers selling their practices to large advisory firms prevalent in international markets seems to be coming to India.

To sum up, advisers are realizing the need to adapt and evolve which is helping them be on top of their game.

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