‘It’s fun to thrive in chaos’

Khyati Mashru of Plant Rich talks about how she made it big in financial advisory.
By Morningstar |  29-10-18 | 

Mumbai-based adviser Khyati Mashru started her practice Plant Rich when she had not even completed her graduation. Today, she has a team of 12 serving 350 plus families. Read the inspiring story of this young entrepreneur who has won three awards as an Innovator in Finance.

You worked with a FMCCG and a media house before starting your practice. What were your key learnings there? How did the idea of starting your firm came about?

I took up a job at a fast-moving consumer goods, or, (FMCG) firm during my college days as I wanted to get some industry exposure. Working at the FMCG firm helped me get insights into consumer psyche as I got a chance to interact with a lot of customers directly.

Subsequently, I joined a news channel. I used to filter readers questions on a news portal. The seeds of starting my practice were sown here. During my short stint at the news channel, I discovered that while people were knowledgeable in their respective fields, the financial awareness was lacking. To fill this gap, I started my practice in November 2007.

What kind of difficulties did you face and how did you overcome them?

I had not even completed my graduation when I struck out on my own. My family was supportive. They encouraged me to pursue my dream. I had zero knowledge about personal finance. Before taking the plunge, I started researching about products and learned how financial planning was done. I purchased my first laptop for my business by applying for a loan for which I paid 24% interest per annum. Since I started solo and had no office, my expenses were minimal. Initially, I started with insurance products and gradually expanded my product bouquet. In the meantime, I came to know about Certified Financial Planner Certification, or, CFP. In 2011, I finished my CFP. I used to write financial plans on a piece of paper and share them with clients. Networking with peers at industry events also helped me gain new insights about this industry.

How did you go about acquiring clients?

Through corporates. I approached some companies through my personal contacts and offered to help employees with tax planning free of cost. Most of the companies I approached were reluctant. But I assured them that I would give them a feedback form filled by the employees after each consultation. I assured them that they can continue only if employees provided them positive feedback. Some firms offered me a small space either in their cafeteria or in meeting rooms. I started doing one-on-one consultations. Many employees liked my recommendations. This is how my clientele grew.

How are you using social media to engage with clients?

We use WhatsApp for keeping in touch with existing clients and engage with prospects. We just send two messages per month (every second and fourth Saturday).  This ensures that clients read our messages. We don’t wish to spam them with too many messages as they could lose interest. We share quality information which actually adds value.

Does Quora help you get new clients?

Honestly, Quora is just a tool to give back to the society and ensure that right information is passed on to the readers as small decisions can have a huge impact. We do get calls from our readers and we engage with prospects who are who are looking for a complete financial planning solution. We don’t use Quora purely a business development tool.

What marketing activities do you undertake to acquire new clients?

Only investor awareness programmes, or IAP’s. We conduct one high impact IAP every month. In these IAPs, we focus on changing people’s money beliefs. Most of our new clients come from referrals through existing clients.

Tell us about your new venture VAMA which focuses on doctors. Will this venture handle clients exclusively from the medical community?

VAMA PLANTRICH LLP, is a collaboration between us and VAMA Events.  We understand that doctors are top notch but sometimes this very quality of being knowledgeable in medicine that makes doctors commit a lot of financial mistakes. Also, their profession leaves them with very little time and energy to focus on finances. At the end of a distinguished professional life spent serving others, they realize at a later stage that their finances were not planned optimally which in turn does not take care of their family’s financial aspirations. Big financial expenses at early stage of career like education loans, expanding practice, buying a home, funding higher education leads to more loans and higher EMIs. Thus, their sole focus is on increasing earnings to manage the cash flows. That’s where Vama-Plantrich steps in. We ensure that doctors remain in the pink of financial health.

Please tell us more about the Innovator in Finance Award received by you…

One of our clients nominated me for The International Women's & Leadership Foundation Forum Award. I won the award three times (2012, 2013 and 2016).

The client was happy with the way her entire financial planning was done. It was an eye opener and she felt it was very innovative to make numbers so interesting and meaningful.

What is your current client base?

I have a team of 12 and serve more than 350 clients. We wish to remain a boutique financial planning firm so that we are able to focus on making sure all our clients achieve their life goals.

What’s next?

Industry is going through a lot of changes and at a very fast pace but it’s fun to thrive in chaos. Some things are not in our control. I am taking all the information to stay updated and not to get absorbed in the negativity. All that I want to focus on is ensuring that my clients achieve their goals and I am sure  everything else will fall in place!

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