Vadodara’s Prakash Lohana was pursuing his charted accountancy, when his dreams had to be put on hold. His father had developed a severe ailment, and the responsibility of running his father’s LIC agency fell on Prakash’s shoulder.
Initially, Prakash found it difficult to sell LIC and achieve sales targets given by development officers. “Selling LIC policies was not my cup of tea. I found that though LIC and ULIPs give risk coverage, they fail to give attractive returns. On the other hand, mutual funds diversify the risk and give higher returns,” he says. He decided to plunge into mutual funds distribution business to increase his offerings.
However, before adding mutual funds to his offerings, he tested the product by investing his own money. He recalls, “I earned almost 25% returns. I was convinced that MF would be the future of investment.”
Lohana decided to close his LIC agency once for all. “I took this huge step after realizing that MFs would be better for me as well as my clients,” he says.
To acquire new clients, Prakash started conducting awareness seminars to educate people about mutual funds. He conducts awareness programs in and around Vadodara. “I explain to people how mutual funds have an edge over other financial products. I make them realise that what they earn through an FD hardly beats inflation and advise them to start investing mutual funds with a small amount,” he says.
The initial response from these programs was good but it did not meet his expectations.
Later, Prakash attended an IFA training program where he understood the significance of goal based financial planning model. He learnt how financial planning model adds value to clients and how goal based approach helps advisers to convince their clients to stay put for long term. He also learnt about fiduciary model in developed markets.
Impressed by the win-win concept of financial planning model, he floated his financial advisory firm called Ascent Financial Solutions in 2011.
The first thing he implemented in his new business is putting client interest first and disclosing all conflicts of interests. “Advisors should look beyond commissions. We should always work in the best interest of clients and disclose all conflict of interest to establish trust from the beginning. It is necessary to build trust right from the beginning. This not only sets the expectation right but also gives you long term assets.”
Prakash never discusses funds in the first few meetings; instead, he believes in promoting goal-based investing. Whenever he meets a new client, he helps them identify their financial goals.
Lohana offers a one-stop solution; be it tax planning, insurance planning, estate planning or retirement planning, he offers all solutions under one roof. “I advise my clients on tax planning and estate planning. This has helped me increase wallet share. In fact, in my view every adviser should provide holistic solutions to their clients. You should develop expertise in meeting the diverse financial needs of clients like insurance, loans, tax, retirement, cash management and so on.”
In addition, Prakash increases his visibility through articles and blog. “I mostly write my views on various topics, from personal finance to demonetization and budget. This while educating the readers also helps me increase visibility,” he says. Prakash writes for vernacular newspapers and magazines.
To retain clients, Prakash regularly stays in touch with clients through phone calls and quarterly meetings. He says, “Creating happy clients doesn’t happen by chance. It happens when you regularly follow up on their portfolio with them through a well-documented process”, believes Prakash.
All these strategies have paid off well and in just four years his assets under advisory has grown from Rs.25 crore to Rs.108 crore.
Prakash truly symbolizes how an advisor can grow exponentially if they put client interest ahead of everything.