Why Alok gave up LIC agency to focus on mutual fund distribution

By Ravi Samalad |  18-02-22 | 

During his childhood days, Alok worked as a financial planner for a start-up as a shadow of his parents. This experience piqued his interest in this field.  After his education, he started his professional career as a junior financial consultant and learned the nuances under the guidance of his parents Shri. Ashok Maheshwari & Smt. Devki Maheshwari. “Finance has always been my dream career field since college days,” says Alok.   

Maheshwari family’s journey in financial services started in 1992 with Life Insurance Corporation. Alok too followed his parents’ footsteps by taking up LIC agency in 2000. Alok operates from small-town Gudhiyari, which is famous for its oil and jaggery market since the British era in Raipur, Chhattisgarh.  

Alok made great strides in insurance distribution by qualifying for Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) for five consecutive years, which is a dream for many insurance advisers. He credits all his success to his clients and well-wishers.

Turning point 

Alok goes down memory lane to narrate how a few client experiences changed the course of his business. “I was almost about to reach Court of Table (COT) in insurance but gave it up with a lifetime learning. One of my clients wanted money for his children’s marriage. But the maturity of the policy did not match when the client required money. While traditional plans offer safety, there is no liquidity. Some of my clients wanted to withdraw early and they had a bad experience as they had to cough up surrender charges. Although my client did not articulate his pain, his eyes told me a lot. These incidents helped us realize that we need to focus on liquidity and wealth creation aspect as well,” recalls Alok.  

While Alok started with mutual fund distribution in 2004, his journey for serving the financial industry started in 2014 with a vision to spread financial happiness. 

Managing client behaviour  

Alok is a multitasker. He studies the financial health of his clients, including savings, investments, budgeting, taxes, and more.

Alok believes that MFD/advisers’ job is not money management. Rather, they have to manage client behaviour. “My goal is to make clients financially happy. We don’t promise clients any astronomical returns and urge them to have an investment horizon of at least five years while investing in equity mutual funds.”

Alok feels that the liquidity offered by mutual funds is a double-edged sword. “The ease and convenience with which clients can redeem money sometimes deter them from wealth creation. Investors tend to redeem to fulfill their wants thereby putting their retirement at risk. This is the reason not many mutual fund investors make money.” 

Young India 

Alok observes that millennials today want to create wealth very fast. They have bypassed equity and mutual funds to invest in cryptocurrencies, that are not regulated. “We at Sarthak Wealth try to meet our clients with their families so that they also get to learn about mutual funds and their benefits. We are also educating clients about term plans and mediclaim policies,” says Alok. Recently, Alok has achieved MDRT twice for mobilising term plans. 

Alok observes that the acceptance of mutual funds has increased, especially among millennials, thanks to the awareness campaign “Mutual Funds Sahi Hain” initiated by the Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI). “Systematic investment plans (SIP) have gained immense popularity.” 

Correction is an opportunity 

Volatility is part of the market, but sometimes investors do panic during crashes. Alok educated them and in fact, made them top up their investments during the 2019 and 2020 correction. From 2019 till today, Sarthak Wealth’s AUM has grown by 100% because Alok educated a lot of his clients to buy into the dip. “We should keep in touch with clients constantly.  When the markets correct by 2-3% clients call us to invest lumpsum. Earlier, clients used to panic when the markets corrected. This is a good sign that the industry’s effort is paying off.” 

On top of the game 

Alok is passionate about financial advisory. He keeps himself abreast of the markets, economy, and funds by subscribing to online and offline magazines, journals, and other financial articles. "Reading helps me gather new information about my profession. I also keep track of various research and studies to learn about the market."

Occasionally, he also attends various seminars related to financing and collaborates with Chartered Accountants. He says that those who also do tax planning for clients have a good opportunity.

Fund selection

When it comes to fund selection, Alok focuses on picking funds that provide better downside protection. “Just looking at returns in isolation is not a good idea. MFDs/advisers are risk managers; not fund managers,” points out Alok.  

Alok uses filters like maximum drawdown, Sortino Ratio, tenure of the fund manager with the scheme/AMC, expense ratio, Sharpe Ratio, Alpha and Beta. When it comes to returns, he looks at the three-month rolling return for 1,3, and 5-year periods, which gives a better picture of the consistency of returns rather than looking at trailing returns.  

Alok says that MFDs should trust the market and have conviction in their product and economy. “The market is like our age. Once you turn 36, you can’t go back to 35. Similarly, if the market reached 62,000 and has corrected a bit  it will definitely go up in the years to come.”  

Sab banenge crorepati  

Alok believes in creating happy customers and his aim is to help his clients create wealth through mutual funds. So merely building AUA is not his yardstick for success. “I will consider myself successful if make at least 1,000 clients generate a corpus of at least Rs 1 crore through mutual funds,” hopes Alok.  

He credits his success to his parents who are the backbone of this business. He is currently managing assets worth Rs 100 crore with the blessing of 1,500 clients. He has built a SIP book of Rs 1 crore.  

Alok is also actively advising clients to open National Pension System (NPS) account since the government is offering Rs 50,000 additional tax benefit under subsection 80CCD (1B). NPS is the key area to serve clients.”  

Go for untapped market  

Alok is also a motivational trainer and has conducted 200+ educational sessions both online and offline. He has clients from Canada, Singapore and United States. He believes that MFDs can also focus on the international market to get clients as this is still untapped.  

Technology is enabler 

Alok believes that you must discipline yourself to treat technology as a servant, not as a master. The purpose of technology is to make your life smoother and easier, not to create complexity, confusion, and stress.  “Stop being enslaved by social media, and make it work for you instead. It’s simple: instead of posting something trite, post about your life goals and seek social support to conquer them. Technology can be your best friend or your worst enemy.”

Conclusion 

With 20 years of experience, Alok always pushes his boundaries for new achievements and to overcome difficulties. "I also practice yoga and meditation, which help me to improve my concentration.”

Behind every successful person in the industry runs the relentless support of a family. The overall growth and success of a person lies on the backbone of a family. Alok, 38, stays with his caring parents and supporting wife Priyanka and his source of energy Yug and his twins – Sarthak & Satvik.  

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Chander Mohan Adya
Feb 23 2022 05:26 PM
 I have really liked your journey into the realms of finance. I am a doctor & still practicing. I have been an investor with my investments in MFs & also in direct equity. I have no formal training in financial sector but a self taught investor. would like to get associated with you. What kind of services you offer & terms & conditions etc.
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