What were the highlights of your overseas assignment and what did you learn from it?
The key motivation of the assignment was selling the India story to offshore investors and understanding their perspective on India as an investment destination. Off shore investors may take their time to invest but once convinced, they will be in for the long haul.
What this assignment exposed me to was the immense popularity of mutual funds as a preferred investment vehicle, the savings discipline forced through 401K & IRA plans and the role of distribution and advice in the selling process.
Tell us about your first job.
I joined the NSE in the wholesale debt market segment. Fixed income markets were in nascent stage back in 1995. The entire market was telephone based and the daily volume was around Rs.500-1000 crore. This job gave me a deep understanding of various fixed income securities and interest rates relationship with the economy. The opportunity to interact with fixed income brokers and treasuries enhanced my overall understanding of fixed income, which immensely helped me in my career stints later in the mutual fund industry.
What was the first sale order you got? Share with us the first sales experience of your life.
I joined Kotak Mutual Fund in institutional sales in 1999. Mutual funds was new for me but it was an emerging investment choice for institutional investors. My first sale was Rs.20 crore from a bank in our gilt fund. It was a thrilling moment not only for me but also for the entire office. My experience at NSE’s debt market segment and learnings helped me connect with these institutional clients and help grow the fund house AUM.
What makes the mutual fund industry an exciting industry to work?
Seeing the good the industry has done for numerous investors, helping them create wealth and achieve their life goals makes me proud of being part of it. While the industry is in existence for many years, the most exciting part of the journey has begun in the past 4 years. Acceptability, awareness of mutual funds, shift from physical to financial assets are helping the industry grow to newer heights. Our economy is on a strong growth path and mutual fund industry would be a big beneficiary of the growth, so exciting times are in store for all of us.
Where do you see the Indian MF industry five years from now?
Looking at the industry growth, awareness, acceptability trends, I believe the Industry should cross the Rs.50 lakh crore mark in the next five years.
Share with us the hi-point of your career.
A highpoint in my career was at AIG Investments. I was heading the intermediary channel and with a total sales team of 17 people across five offices, we mobilised more than Rs.1000 crore in our NFO with over 1.1 lakh application forms across 90 locations. Being a start-up AMC with a lean team, being able to deliver a large scale NFO back then in 2007 was a great feeling.
What is the recipe for success in corporate life?
Our profession is all about relationships. We need to be true to customers and ourselves. Be open to suggestions, ideas and willingness to learn.
What keeps you motivated?
When I joined Kotak in 1999, our AUM was Rs.260 crore and today we are at Rs.1.30 lakh crore. This journey has been extremely motivating. Over the years, I have built relationships with clients, distributors, peers that are for life. Every day is a new challenge, a new learning, which keeps me going.
How and where do you invest your money?
Just as a chef eats in his own restaurant, my investments are only in mutual funds. You may be aware of the voluntary pledge taken by us at Kotak Mutual Fund of investing in our own schemes. I practice what I preach i.e. investing in MF through SIPs.
Can you recommend a book to our readers that has inspired you?
The book that inspired me was Liars Poker by Michael Lewis. I was awe by the trading world of Wall Street and had decided to make a career in fixed income markets. Some other interesting reads have been Shoe Dog by Philip Knight, Too big to fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin, Human+ Machine, Re imagining work in the age of AI by Paul Daugherty & James Willson.
What cause you support?
Every time I travel in a rickshaw, taxi, Ola, Uber, I start a conversation on savings with the drivers and majority of them do not understand about investments. I use these opportunities to convey three simple messages:
- purchase the insurance scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojna,
- start a SIP and
- ensure they have nominated family members in their bank accounts.
It is important that these people should know the basic and safe investing.
What is your favourite past time?
I love travelling and spend time reading up on countries, cultures, places of interests, food, etc. I have written a few articles of my trips for magazines. Besides reading, music is my source of relaxation and I listen to all genres of music.