Mumbai based Sangeeta Chitnis joined her family stock broking business soon after she completed her bachelor’s degree in 1994. Milind Chitnis was a civil engineer when he got married to Sangeeta. However, soon he developed an interest in finance after looking at Sangeeta’s work closely. As his interest in finance grew, he started helping his wife in managing the business by quitting his well-paying job
After Ketan Parekh incident that shocked the equity markets in 2001, the duo shifted their focus from direct equity to mutual funds and floated Chitnis Financial Planners in 2002. They divided their business responsibilities with Milind focusing on mutual funds and Sangeeta on insurance policies.
When asked about why they shifted their focus from direct equity to mutual funds, Milind said, “Since all our clients are retail investors, we thought mutual funds are more sophisticated and best suited for them.”
However, convincing their existing clients to shift to mutual funds was not easy. “Most of the investors who primarily invest in direct equity do not find mutual funds attractive. However, when we explain to them the merits of mutual funds such as diversification, transparency and low cost fund management, they start considering it. In addition, we have created charts that compare the performance of their equity portfolio vis-a-vis the performance of mutual funds schemes to highlight the long-term return potential of mutual funds schemes,” said Milind.
Sangeeta told Cafemutual that it took them two years to pull off the transition. “Our clients gradually realised that we are doing something good and they started to come around and invest in mutual funds,” added Sangeeta.
The couple relies mainly on referral to acquire new clients. “We have tried a couple of activities such as IAPs to acquire new clients. But nothing is as fruitful as referrals. Also, we do not ask for referrals. In fact, we are now managing the third generation of our existing clients.”
This takes us to our next question – how they manage to be referable. Milind said that being accessible and staying in constant touch with clients helped him get referrals. “We make it a point to meet our clients whenever they call us, even if it is late in the night. This has helped us build trust and a good rapport with clients,” he added.
Milind also sends a newsletter to all his clients to stay connected with them. He shares articles on personal finance and gives his views on equity and debt markets in these newsletters. “Our primary point of contact with investors and prospective clients is our newsletter. We engage in a discussion on living a good financial life. More than the sales pitch, we have chosen to educate investors and let people gain from our knowledge,” said Milind.
Another activity that Milind does is interacting with clients whenever the market witnesses volatility due to specific events such as Fed rate hike. He believes such handholding during turbulent times builds and strengthens trust.
Moreover, the couple has made it possible for clients to execute transactions and monitor their portfolios online.
Over the years, the couple has acquired around 500 families totalling an AUM of Rs.200 crore in mutual funds.
Sangeeta and Milind’s success story is one of the finest examples of focussed approach. The couple sets an example of how sticking to the basics such as being accessible and staying in constant touch with clients can help advisors grow business.