What inspired you to get into financial advisory and what were you doing before venturing into financial advisory?
I completed my Automobile Engineering in 1990 and started my career as a service engineer with an auto company. I always wanted to start my own business. In 1992, I opened a Maruti authorized service station in Davangere, Karnataka. But life turned upside down when I incurred a loss in the business in 2002. During that phase, I started reviewing what went wrong in the business. I realized that I incurred losses due to improper management of cash flows and due to lack of diversification in business.
In the meantime, I got to know about the CFP course through my friend which I found very worthwhile. I decided to pursue it. I liked the course and decided to make financial advisory my profession. I got into the profession on a part time basis while simultaneously managing my business.
How were the initial days? What kind of challenges did you face?
When I ventured in this business, the market was ruled by ULIPs. It was very difficult for me to sell even a single mutual fund product. So I had no income initially. The biggest challenge was that investors were expecting astronomical returns but were ignorant about products.
Almost all the distributors I met were dependent on commission from products. They even warned me not to venture into this profession as the entry loads were abolished. Since I had studied CFP I took this as a challenge and started working towards building a business based on fee model. I started conducting investor awareness programs to educate people about financial products.
How did you acquire clients?
Initially, I invited my friends and family members for IAPs. Many a time, I have conducted my session with only one person. But I didn’t give up. I continuously made attempts to reach out to people and explain financial planning to them. I used to conduct a 2-hour program in which I used to ask people to share their investment experiences. These programs helped people change their mindset from return based investments to goal based investments. At the end of the program, I used to ask the attendees to register the names of their family members and friends whom they would like to invite to my next class. This is how I acquired clients.
How did you get the idea of educating people through TV channel? How did you manage it?
When I was watching a TV show, I noticed that there were hardly any mutual fund advertisements. This gave me an idea to spread financial literacy through a television program. I approached a DoorDarshan (DD) Director with the proposal about the program. He was so inspired by my concept that he gave me an opportunity to produce the program on DD Chandana, Kannada TV channel. It was a live telecast and the format was that I had to resolve queries on phone. I used to travel 260 kms from Davangere to Bangalore for this show. I enjoyed this challenge. So far, more than 3,500 people have participated in our live program and I can proudly say that I made difference in their financial life.
How much assets under advisory (AUA) do you manage in mutual funds? How did you manage to get it?
I started my business on a full time basis from 2011-12 with AUA of Rs. 80 lakh. Currently, I manage Rs. 26 crore in mutual funds and have a SIP book of Rs.39 lakh. To service my clients, I have a website where clients can see their consolidated statements and generate reports. This saved a lot of my time. So far, I have prepared nearly 138 financial plans for 428 clients.
What were your biggest learnings as a financial advisor?
I get to learn new things when I interact with people in my IAPs. Also, I learnt that one needs to have a lot of patience and perseverance to be in this profession.
Apart from mutual funds, what are the other products you offer?
Apart from mutual funds, I deal in insurance. I also advise on government securities and bonds for HNIs and institutional clients. I am managing Rs. 30 crore in G-Secs and bonds.
What is your key to success?
I have always focused on educating myself. I work with sincerity and dedication. I’m prompt in servicing my clients. Besides, I have always believed in empowering clients with knowledge. I believe these are my secrets of success.
What are your future plans?
I want to cross more than Rs.100 crore AUA at the end of this financial year with SIP book of Rs.1 crore. I hope to do so by reaching out to the people at the bottom of the pyramid.