Very rarely do we come across an adviser who dons the two hats of advisory and education. Ankit Ajmera is one such IFA who is also a principal in a college. This Ahmedabad based adviser is not only committed to his profession but has also pledged to improve financial literacy.
He holds a PhD.in Pharmacy and was working for firms like Wockhardt and Ranbaxy. Till 2005, Ankit had no idea about stock markets but as he started investing in mutual funds, he realised that this is an untapped market and very few advisers were selling MFs. This led him to explore more about MFs.
Recalling his earlier days, Ankit says, “After completing M.Pharma, I started working for various companies as a sales manager. But I realized that this was not my area of interest and I followed my passion which is teaching. So I took up a job as a lecturer in a pharmacy college. After a few years, I was promoted as an Assistant Professor. Subsequently, I decided to pursue my doctorate degree. After completing PhD, I was offered this job as a principal of KB Raval College of Pharmacy which I readily accepted. I am continuing here since then.”
When asked what inspired him to become mutual fund adviser, Ankit says, “After I quit my job in 2005, I realized that I had not invested my money in products that would earn me good returns. Some of my friends recommended mutual funds and so I met an MF agent. We bonded well and he advised me to get into his profession. He knew that I was keen to understand more about MFs and thus later in 2006, when there was the NFO boom, he suggested that I could sell NFOs.”
But Ankit wasn’t sure since he had no experience in mutual funds. “I did not pay heed to my agent’s advice as I was not confident but my wife persuaded me to explore this option and motivated me to start this business. Then I came to AMFI office in Mumbai to learn more about this industry. Convinced by the good prospects of MFs, I decided to take AMFI ARN. I cleared AMFI exam and after a lot of hard work started selling NFOs.”
However, Ankit was not comfortable selling only NFOs. He wanted to adopt a more holistic approach. “I realized that I wasn’t doing justice to my clients. I wanted to learn more and thus studied the concept of SIP thoroughly. Later, I stopped pitching NFOs and only focussed on selling SIPs to my clients.”
Due to his commitments at college, Ankit works only on weekends. However, he makes sure that he services his clients well. He devotes his weekends to meet his clients who include doctors, para-medical professionals and their families. He has 600 clients and manages assets under advisory of around Rs.40 crore in mutual funds with a SIP book of Rs.50 lakh per month.
To hone his skills further, he has cleared a few NISM certifications and is currently preparing for CFP examination.
Ankit is a storyteller and loves giving examples to explain the benefits of SIPs. He has four storylines to sell SIPs:
- He compares SIP to a baby and how we don’t expect a baby to earn before the age of 24. Similarly, clients shouldn’t expect SIPs to generate returns in the short run.
- He tells his clients that even if we love your child, we still take the risk to send them to school alone to teach them to be independent. Similarly, they have to learn to take risk to earn good returns.
- Just like medicines have certain side-effects but doctors still prescribe them to their patients Ankit tells his clients that he is managing risk for them and they have to trust him completely. Ankit believes that Indians don’t realise that money can earn for them and that it is important to invest it at the right time and the right place.
- He gives the example of Mahabharat in which Krishna was a ‘saarthi’ (adviser) to Arjun and by following his advice, Arjun defeated Karna and won the war. “Initially, Arjun did not like the advice which Krishna gave and was hesitant to follow it. He had different plans but Krishna insisted him to follow his advice. Similarly, in investing, self-medication is dangerous. There are many case studies of investors who invested directly in equity and failed. I tell them that you should not blame markets if you don’t understand how markets function,” he adds.
When social media was not so popular, Ankit used to send mailers and SMS to clients to engage with them. Now he uses social media and WhatsApp to be in touch with clients. “An IFA needs to stay in touch with the clients. I create visual content through infographics and send them to my clients on WhatsApp.”
Every week, he prepares a new concept and a story to promote SIP and shares it on WhatsApp with his clients.
Ankit follows the concept of behavioural science and has been researching human behaviour and psychology that helps him understand clients better. Ankit says, “Every family is different. Their requirements are different so we cannot follow a template while giving advice. Try to empathize with the client, understand his need and preferences. Otherwise, what will be difference between robo advisers and humans?”
Advice to budding IFAs
Ankit suggests, “If you want to learn, you need only interest and passion to pursue it!”
Also, he believes that an adviser should always remember that the client needs them and not the other way around. “After the 2008 market crash, I understood that it is the client who needs us and not the other way round. Often, advisers in order to acquire more clients forget their worth and give a chance to the clients to take them for granted. And so I started charging them a fee.”
Ankit wants to expand his business through investor awareness programs. He wants to reach out to people who are seeking for financial education and help them in financial planning. “My aim is to learn and share. Through IAPs, I will be able to share the importance of financial literacy, learn and network with the audience,” Ankit says.