Born into a family of share brokers in Ranchi, Rajeev Murarka’s first love has always been finance. After completing his BCom from Ranchi University, Rajeev joined his father and brother in their share-broking business. Rajeev was keen on expanding their business and did not want to limit to share-broking alone. He sensed an early entry into mutual funds would help their business.
Born into a family of share brokers in Ranchi, Rajeev Murarka’s first love has always been finance. After completing his BCom from Ranchi University, Rajeev joined his father and brother in their share-broking business. Rajeev and his elder brother Praveen Murarka were keen on expanding their business and did not want to limit to share-broking alone. They were also pioneers in insurance Advisory dealing with leading Private Insurance Companies. In Life Insurance, they qualified for MDRT (Million Dollar Round Table) seven consecutive times. With these achievements, Rajeev sensed that an early entry into mutual funds would help their business.
Rajeev was among the early adopters of mutual funds in early 2000. “When we started selling mutual funds, there was very little competition. The only people selling mutual funds were LIC insurance agents, with no one offering a pure mutual fund advisory. And we were happy to occupy that space. We became the first financial advisors in Ranchi,” he says
Talking about his initial journey he says, “Our main challenge was trying to convince conservative investors to look beyond FDs and post-office products. The awareness level of mutual funds was abysmally low. It was only by creating awareness around the product and following it up with a good performance did I succeed.”
Luck and the timing played their part in Rajeev’s success. “I started by introducing my stock-broking clients to mutual funds. And these funds performed exceeding well. This built our reputation as expert financial advisors and we were able to build a large client base,” he says. Today Rajeev caters to 2500 clients with an AUM of Rs 125 crore.
While he initially approached his share-broking clients, Rajeev has been using both traditional and modern ways of acquiring clients.
- Door to door: Rajeev has a dedicated sales team, which visits prospects and tries to convert them. “In case my team fails, I go and visit that person personally to convince him about investing through me.” he says
- Cold calling: Rajeev has a tele-caller on payroll who cold calls prospects and existing clients to inform them about new schemes that are available and how they could invest in the fund.
- Referrals: Rajeev says that being a veteran financial advisor of Ranchi has many benefits which includes getting most of his clients through ‘word of mouth’. “Referrals are ideal for growing the business. They are like a testimonial of your competence as an advisor. This is the surest way of getting clients,” he says.
- Social Media: Rajeev has also been using social media to expand his client base. “While the conversion rate for social media is quite low, it helps me create goodwill about my brand. Also social media is useful for staying in touch with my existing clients,” he says.
- Flyers: Rajeev uses newspapers inserts as a part of his expansion drive. “I usually list my services and give my contact details so that investors can approach me when they need advice on mutual funds,” he says
- IAPs: Coming from a city where people still prefer traditional means of investments, Rajeev finds that by educating investors on financial planning, goal setting and mutual funds, he is able to get many investors interested in mutual funds. “Since my company is well established, many who attend my IAPs eventually become my clients,” he says.
Rajeev says he has a mixed bag of clients belonging to various age groups and income groups. Talking about how he manages a huge client base, Rajeev says, “Nowadays servicing clients has become easier, thanks to the array of software available in the market.”
“I have a 12 member team that caters to all our clients. They ensure there is a regular communication with our clients. My brother and I monitor all the accounts and step in whenever the investor needs us,” he says
Talking about the cost of managing such a large set up, Rajeev says, “Once you have a base minimum infrastructure setup, adding on clients does not cost much.”
Talking about how he selects his funds, Rajeev says he gives the highest priority to a fund’s performance. He says for him it is performance, brand and fund manager in that order.
- Performance: Rajeev places highest importance to the performance of the fund across various market cycles. “I choose funds that behave consistently even when the market is volatile. This way I protect my clients against the downside while ensuring positive returns during the bull market”.
- Brand: Rajeev only sells funds belonging to the top fund houses, as he believes that they are the safest bets for his clients.
- Fund Manager: Another important aspect of fund selection for Rajeev is the fund manager. “These are the men who will be deciding where to invest and how much to invest. I prefer funds that have a star fund manager taking the decisions,” he says.
Rajeev says one of the biggest challenges he faces is demand for commission pass back. “Many of my competitors attract clients by paying them a part of their commission. At my company we have strict policies against such activities, because of which I have had to let go of many a client. Instead we focus on servicing and ensure my client’s portfolio beats the benchmark.” he says.
“Another challenge I face is when an employee leaves the set up. In a company that is dependent on its employees, this becomes a major setback. Though this is part of the business, we try to keep our employees as happy as possible to avoid such situations,” says Rajeev.
Talking about his plans for the future, Rajeev says he plans to use technology and increase the work force. “I want to be able to reach more people and provide financial advice to those who need it the most. I feel financial advisory is an essential service that everyone must have access to. By increasing the work force I will be able to expand my client base exponentially,” he says signing off