Born and brought up in Amreli, a small town in Gujarat, Narendra Zinzuvadia began his journey in financial advisory with a life insurance company and post office saving schemes in 1988. Back then, one of his clients sought Narendra’s advice. His brief was that he wanted to start investing on a monthly basis and was willing to take some risk in order to earn attractive returns in the long term. The quest to serve his investor’s need led Narendra to discover mutual funds, and further research opened up the benefit this product category had. But before venturing into MFs, Narendra wanted to test the waters. He experienced the benefits of MFs after investing his own money in a few mutual fund schemes. Thus encouraged, he ventured into mutual funds distribution in 1992.
To understand Narendra’s success, it is worth recalling the tale about these two shoe salesmen who were sent separately by their boss to a third world country in search of new business opportunities.
Salesman 1 calls the boss the moment he lands, telling him, “Boss, I’m coming back home. There’s no hope here. Nobody here is wearing shoes, so there’s no one to sell to.” He boards the next flight home.
Salesman 2 calls the boss and says, “Boss, you wouldn’t believe what I found here. There is so much opportunity. No one here is wearing shoes. I can sell to the whole country!”
Much like Salesman 1 in our story, many people don’t find it lucrative to work in smaller cities due to the low level of financial literacy and small ticket size. However, for Narendra this was an opportunity. In fact, he has been instrumental in evangelizing the cause of mutual funds in Amreli. This is evident from the fact that Narendra has over 7000 clients with assets under advisory of Rs. 70 crore. Almost all his clients are retail investors.
Here is how Narendra has grown his business.
Conducting IAPs: Much before SEBI had mandated fund houses to create awareness about mutual funds through IAPs, Narendra was conducting such programs across Amreli district. In fact, one can say that he has adopted this district to create financial awareness among the people.
Narendra’s aim has always been to spread awareness about mutual funds among rural people such as farmers and daily wage earners. The idea is to inculcate good investment habits among rural people who usually tend to invest in chit funds.
In these IAPs, Narendra speaks about why investing even small portion of earnings is important to create a buffer for emergencies like deficient rainfall. Narendra says, “I never conduct IAPs just to acquire clients. I know once people understand the benefits of investing in mutual funds they will come to me.”
Seminar marketing for urban people: Narendra targets small groups of people with similar backgrounds and mindsets such as housewives. He customizes his content according to the needs and concerns of his audience. For instance, while addressing housewives who are good at budgeting, he talks about how the small amounts they save every month can be channelized in mutual funds. But broadly, he covers topics like how to plan for children education and importance of budgeting and planning.
Similarly, Narendra conducts IAPs for agricultural labourers, retirees and government employees. He says that connecting with them in the local language and distributing flyers has helped him convert clients faster. Earlier, his client conversion ratio was 1:20 which has increased to 15:20 now!
Invest in employees: Narendra ensures that his team is well trained. He says, “Advisers should invest in their employees to develop their skill set and knowledge. The investment could be in the form of education or training. This not only helps to enhance efficiency, increase productivity and quality of work, but it can also help retain talent.” Currently, Narendra has a team of 8.
Staying in constant touch: As Narendra has a large number of clients, we asked him how he manages to serve them. He says that he and his team regularly stay in touch with most of the clients. In fact, he has set a target for his team-mates to interact with a minimum of 20 people a day. This interaction could be through face-to-face meeting or telephone. Narendra believes that staying in touch with clients help in strengthening the relationship and building trust. In addition, his team sends gifts and greeting cards on birthdays, Diwali, Holi, etc.
One stop Solution: Narendra believes that providing a comprehensive range of services at a single point helps advisers to increase the wallet share by fulfilling their personal finance needs. His services therefore include tax planning, risk assessment, succession planning, retirement planning and comprehensive financial planning.
Value added services: Narendra has started a help desk for people to address queries related to personal finance like activating dormant bank account, porting insurance policies and so on. He says, “Advisers should always try to exceed the expectations of the clients and prospects. This helps in getting popularity through word of mouth.”
Narendra’s way of choosing funds for his clients is unique. To begin with, he makes a shortlist of the top rated schemes from fund rating websites and puts his own money to monitor their performance. He looks at the rolling returns to assess the consistency in performance of the fund. Another thing which he considers while picking a fund in its recommendation list is the track record of the fund manager across various market cycles.
Narendra aims to achieve assets under advisory of Rs. 100 crore in the next two year. To achieve this goal, he is planning to increase his team size and leverage social media. In fact, he has started using Facebook to engage with young clients.
He says, “Most of the youngsters are using Facebook. I would like to reach out to youth because they are the ones who will have long term money to invest. I have started updating my Facebook wall with financial posts and videos to increase my visibility among youngsters.”
Not all entrepreneurs are from B schools and Narendra is the perfect example of it. He has built a large business in a location which had low awareness about mutual funds. His persistent efforts and passion to turn weakness into strength is an inspiration to all budding IFAs especially in smaller locations who wish to make investment advisory as their profession.