Adviser Perspectives: How this distributor manages 600 clients

By Ravi Samalad |  28-05-22 | 

Hemant Dighe used to work for a textile manufacturing company in Mumbai. In 1986, his passion for markets drew him to take up distribution as a part-time business alongside his regular job. He applied for Unit Trust of India (UTI) agency in 1986.

Down the memory lane

Hemant honed his technical know-how by reading pink papers, business magazines and company balance sheets. “About 20 years back, there was no awareness about mutual funds. Even distributors had limited knowledge about mutual funds. Private sector fund houses like ICICI Prudential started giving us training on different aspects of mutual funds. The equity market was not doing so well due to various economic factors. Retail investors perceived the stock market as merely a speculative activity. So convincing clients to invest in equity was a tall order back then,” recalls Hemant.

Hemant started canvassing Debt Funds such as Income Funds and Long Term Bond Funds to his clients which offered regular dividends. Once his clients were comfortable with Debt Funds, Hemant explained the virtues of equity funds. “A few of my clients who started investing in equity mutual funds more than a decade back with few lakhs have built a portfolio of crores. Investors who invested regularly and had the patience to stay invested despite market turbulence have reaped the benefits of compounding.”

Hemant entered the industry before the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) formed the mutual fund industry regulations. He recalls that there were no daily Net Asset Value (NAVs), factsheets, or fund manager interactions back then. “There were very limited equity schemes or categories. They were no-brainer and were positioned as products that can deliver higher than market returns. New products emerged as more players entered the industry. Today, we have more than 1,000 schemes to choose from,” says Hemant.

Hemant today caters to 600 retail clients with assets under advisory worth Rs 125 crore. He mostly recommends equity funds to his clients as they already have some exposure to debt in the form of other traditional investment avenues. He finds Balanced Advantage Funds ideal for his clients as it takes care of the equity and debt exposure as per market swings. “People are generally reluctant to buy when the market is down as they feel the market can dip further. Thus, these funds are ideal for retail clients. These funds can deliver decent alpha over a longer time frame.”

One-on-one meetings are essential

Hemant manages his practice singlehandedly. To execute transactions, he uses the applications/websites of Registrar and Transfer Agents (RTAs).  While the industry is moving on the digital bandwagon at a fast clip, he is yet to explore stock exchange platforms or Mutual Fund Utility. Since many of his clients do not use internet banking he is yet to fully migrate to digital transactions.

As a veteran, Hemant observes that while technology has helped distributors/advisers in transaction processing and bridging boundaries, investors still need handholding and appreciate face-to-face interactions. “Clients appreciate it when you just meet them even if there is no fixed agenda or a business proposal. They want to have a conversation about their investments and get an assurance that they will achieve their goals by trusting us,” says Hemant.

Road ahead

While Hemant has not grown his business too big by having an army of employees and branch offices, he is content with managing his 600 odd retail clients, whom he has been serving for the past two decades. He considers himself fortunate that he was able to pursue his entrepreneurial dream by pursuing his passion for investments. He has played a key role in mobilising money into mutual funds when there was hardly any awareness about equity products.

Hemant’s daughter and son are settled in their respective professions. Going ahead, Hemant is looking at providing a smooth transition to his clients with a succession plan.

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Vishal Waghate
May 30 2022 03:01 PM
 Inspirational sir!
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