Aurangabad based Chandrakant Kashinath Amritkar began his career as an insurance agent in 1986 on a part time basis. His uncle who was in the insurance business advised him to become an insurance agent. Keen to earn his own pocket money, Chandrakant took it up enthusiastically.
He diversified into post office savings schemes and eventually took up MF distribution in 1989. Sensing a big opportunity in financial advisory business Chandrakant left his job and set up a financial distribution firm called Amritkar Insurance and Financial Services in 1991.
He soon experienced that mutual fund is the only product which aligns investors interest with distributors. “Mutual fund is the only product in which distributors earnings are completely dependent on client’s growth. This is a win-win for all stakeholders – AMCs, distributors and investors.” In 2004, he shifted his focus entirely to mutual funds.
In order to promote his business, Chandrakant sets up kiosks in commercial exhibitions. He uses placards which carry messages such as 'Do you plan to retire rich' and 'How do you plan for children’s higher education' to attract people. These messages are in Marathi to establish a better connect with his audience. In such stalls, he organises activities such as quiz competitions and lucky draw to increase engagement with people.
Chandrakant distributes flyers through local newspapers describing what he does and how he can help people reach their financial goals. His team distributes these leaflets at bus stations and railway stations also.
Chandrakant conducts IAPs to educate investors. To ensure good participation, he tries to keep the agenda interesting by using topics related to personal finance like how to manage cash flows during demonetisation and how to buy a dream home through monthly investments. In IAPs, he uses Marathi and Hindi languages to make a better connect with audience. “People are more comfortable with those who speak their language. Also, it helps me explain financial jargons in a simple way.”
Chandrakant has a team of 13 including five family members, who regularly meet with clients. In addition, he sends annual calendar and greeting cards on special occasions such as Diwali and birthday. He also conducts client meetings at least once a quarter to update them about prevailing market conditions and share market outlook based on research reports.
One of the first things that Chandrakant does is explain the difference between trading and investments to his prospects. He says that many people have approached him to carry out trading in mutual funds. They have a misconception that mutual funds can be traded like stocks for short term gains, he said.
He then analyses risk appetite of investors through a set of questions such as what would a client do if he were to become a crorepati and what would they do if their portfolio reflect negative returns.
For Chandrakant, holdings of a fund play an important role in building confidence. He shares top ten holdings of the fund. “Investors feel comfortable once they know at least the top ten scrips. This gives them confidence that they are investing in quality companies.”
Conviction in balanced fund
Chandrakant is of the view that balanced funds are best suited for all categories of investors. “Balanced fund is a great concept. You can get capital appreciation along with downside protection. At times, balanced funds have outperformed their large cap equity peers. In fact, I suggest it to all my clients.”
He is convinced that balanced funds offer investors the best of both worlds without having to remain invested for three years to avail long-term capital gains tax.
He never recommends first time investors to invest in equity funds. According to him, the starting point for the first time investor is balanced funds. “People may tell you that they are comfortable with long term investments. However, if a first time investor witnesses negative returns, he panics and redeems all his investments. Such investors seldom come back to you. Hence, it is important to create a positive first experience.”
These strategies have paid off very well for him and now, Chandrakant manages Rs.110 crore in mutual funds from over 500 clients.
Chandrakant’s first filter is size of the fund. He prefers funds with AUM of over Rs.1000 crore because they can withstand the impact of large scale redemptions.
His second filter is past performance. He looks at the consistency of a fund during bear and bull phase. However, Chandrakant believes in having skin in the game. Any fund has to pass through the performance test before making its way to the recommendation list of Chandrakant.
He also looks at the quality of scrips that a fund holds. According to him, a quality portfolio has a potential to outperform across various market cycles.
Finally, he looks at customer servicing of a fund house. “Some fund houses are not good at handling queries related to operational issues such as discrepancy in account statement and delay in settlement of payments. Hence, we like to work with fund houses having a robust customer servicing desk.”
Chandrakant is the vice president of Aurangabad Agents Association (AAA), the charter member of Marathwada Independent Financial Advisors Association (MIFAA) and a member of Aurangabad Independent Financial Adviser Association (AIFAA). All these associations help advisers interact with peers and exchange ideas. The members meet every month to discuss the trends and developments in the financial sector.
To grow further, Chandrakant wants to expand his footprint in the adjoining districts by opening up branches. Very soon, he is going to open the third office in a high density location of Aurangabad to reach out to affluent clients.
He also plans to pursue seminar marketing in corporate houses and SMEs to acquire new clients. On digital, he is planning to make things paperless. In fact, he has recently tied up with an online transactional platform. Currently, he is working to launch his website.
Talking in the language which client understands and promoting balanced funds among people to provide better risk-adjusted and tax free returns has been the success mantra for Chandrakant.