Samiran Banerjee has been a
friend and guide to a number of budding advisors from eastern India.
Samiran Banerjee credits his success to his guru Naresh Pachisia and
his own informal way of conducting his business from the relaxed environs of
his boithok khana (his sitting room).
After 3 pm every day, he meets his IFAs at the boithok khana over tea and singara
(samosa) to discuss various work-related issues in an informal manner. “My boithok khana is the main generator of
business. In a friendly manner, we discuss all issues. All my IFAs are my
friends and I love to chat with them and guide them to grow their business,”
Samiran has recently joined Peerless Mutual Fund as the Agency Head
for South Bengal (Burdwan, Durgapur and Bankura). He’s not on the rolls of the
company but he has to guide the advisors who are associated with the AMC. His
journey of working with IFAs started a long time back.
The entrepreneurship bug bit Samiran in his school days. He
started a small business selling tea as he wanted to pay his school fees on his
own. He purchased bulk tea from Kolkata and made door-to-door sales of smaller
tea packages in Durgapur.
After dabbling in distributorships for tea companies, Samiran
realized that he would require a huge amount of capital to grow his fledging
tea business. His middle-class family did not have the money to support this
venture. He completed his B. Com during this
His first exposure to stocks and investments took place when he learnt
that his grandfather had bought Goodricke shares. His grandfather was
monitoring the scrip’s performance daily and soon, Samiran was interested and wanted
to know more about markets.
Around that time, his friend introduced him to the functioning of
a sub-broker. He found the job interesting.This was Samiran’s first foray into
the financial space. In 1994, there was a boom in the market for FDs which were
offering high returns of 14%-15%. Samiran joined 20th Century Finance as head
of the company’s agents. That’s when he got to understand the role of an IFA.
During this period, Naresh Pachisia, MD, SKP Securities and one of
the first to introduce mutual funds to investors in Eastern India, was looking
to expand his business. Naresh happened to meet Samiran as he was looking for IFAs
to expand his network.
Naresh had an extensive meeting with Samiran at SKP Securities’
Kolkata office. Samiran was convinced about the future of MFs and he joined SKP
as a sub-broker in 1997.
“During those days, private sector mutual funds had entered India
but most brokers were not interested in them. My entry into mutual funds was
because of my guru, Naresh Pachisia,” says Samiran.
In 1997, he was the first IFA to introduce mutual funds in South
Bengal. Samiran felt that the product had great potential and he wanted to
create a force of IFAs to popularize the product. But he failed initially to
convince his fellow IFAs to sell MFs.
“From 1997 to 1999, most IFAs
came for a discussion on mutual funds over tea and listened to what I spoke
about the product, but were not ready to sell it. I did not give up; if I
bumped into an IFA while shopping, I spoke about mutual funds,” says Samiran.
Samiran was able to demonstrate the strength of the product by showcasing
the returns on his personal MF portfolio. Once the advisors were convinced
about the attractiveness of the product, they got into the MF business.
It was not an easy task to convince clients to invest in mutual
funds. During 1997, UTI was the king of this space, and US-64 was its flagship
product, which provided regular dividends. Most investors were satisfied with
But this meant that many investors only wanted mutual fund
products which guaranteed returns. It was a tough going for Samiran.
Samiran’s guru taught him to promote mutual funds as a goal-oriented
product. This strategy worked and he started selling mutual funds in a big
way. One day, Samiran got a call from Naresh, who told him that a senior
executive from ICICI Mutual Fund wanted to visit Durgapur and talk to IFAs about
Samiran assured Naresh that he would definitely gather 25 IFAs for
the meeting. The AMC executive was surprised to see 50 IFAs present for the
meeting as he did not think that IFAs in Durgapur would be interested or aware
about the product. He was also impressed with Samiran’s leadership qualities
and he offered him the role of agency manager with the fund house, where he worked for 15 years.
Samiran has trained over 400 IFAs and helped them clear the NISM-AMFI
exam. He constantly motivates them and supports them whenever they are not able
to garner business. Samiran tells IFAs that retail investors are king of the
market and every house in Durgapur should have at least one mutual fund
All his trained IFAs carried out door-to-door promotion and sale
of mutual fund products.Over time, Samiran gave them additional training and
taught them the principles of asset allocation, importance of SIP, etc. Samiran
says that it was a booming industry till SEBI banned entry loads. After that,
many IFAs quit the industry but Samiran still manages 200 active IFAs.
“I always tell IFAs that you are not inferior to a bank. You have
all the products that a bank offers. The only difference is that you need to
identify the product and match it to investors’ needs,” says Samiran. Some of
the points that he makes with his IFAs:
- If investors leave their money in a current account, they earn 0%
interest. Instead educate them to put that money in liquid schemes where they could
get 5% to 7% interest.
- Educate investors to put their money lying in saving accounts in
ultra short term products where they could expect to earn higher interest than
He also arranges monthly programs in which 10 IFAs are encouraged
to get 10 clients each. In these investor education programs, investors talk
about their experience and issues with their investments.
Samiran also motivates IFAs by nominating them for the foreign
trips that he is offered from mutual fund houses for completing his targets.
He wants his IFAs to become technology savvy and he gives them
regular inputs so that they remain on top of their trade.
“Currently a lot of educated youth are keen to invest in mutual
funds. I am trying to make IFAs more technology friendly so that they are able
to serve them better. Most customers nowadays want to invest via the Internet,”
Signing off, he says: “I will be successful when at least 50 of my
IFAs independently own a car each.”