“How can I build a scalable Retail Distribution Business?” is quite possibly the foremost question on the mind of any IFA today. A higher quality, more diversified book spread across smaller ticket sizes, lower risk clients with more sticky AUM, and an annuity like business through SIP’s are just some of the benefits of building a thriving business that revolves around smaller clientele.
An accomplished panel consisting of 3 CEO’s of Asset Management Companies and a Jaipur based IFA (who has built a SIP Book of over Rs. 1 Crore from retail customers) got together during the first BW Mutual Fund India Summit to crack the Retail Distribution Code.
Vikaas M. Sachdeva of Edelweiss AMC, Anthony Heredia of Baroda Pioneer, Swarup Mohanty of Mirae Asset and Rajesh Sodhani of Sodhani Investments were the panellists for this interesting and engaging discussion. The session was moderated by Rajeev Ranjan Jha, Editor, Nivesh Manthan.
Sachdeva of Edelweiss began by stating some of the key challenges that exist in the space of retail distribution. According to Sachdeva, the fact that there are no entry barriers to becoming a financial intermediary is actually detrimental to the growth of retail distribution, as this would impact the quality of advice on offer.
Lack of proper positioning is another reason why Sachdeva believes that intermediaries are not being able to break into the retail game – he lauded the way Sodhani has positioned himself specifically as a ‘Retirement’ expert, thereby leading to the accumulation of an enviable SIP Book.
The third key challenge, according to Sachdeva, is the seemingly ‘low levels of respect’ that many clients tend to have for financial intermediaries, in spite of their widespread efforts to educate clients and create long term wealth from them. The key to building a scalable retail distribution business therefore lies in finding workarounds for all these three challenges.
Heredia of Baroda Pioneer believes that one of the key challenges to scalability has been the tendency for the industry to be unduly verbose and complicate what should really be stated in simple words, with the aim of creating a perception of sophistication.
According to Heredia, presentations in twenty five different languages aren’t necessarily important, but the ability to explain Mutual Funds in simple language is critical. “When Bank of Baroda decided to focus on distribution of Mutual Funds, we spent two months working on a simple product like SIP’s, and the bank managed to raise 100,000 SIP’s in 40 days flat, with 77 per cent being from first time investors”, he cites as an example. Heredia also stated his belief that the future of retail distribution lies in the hands of IFA’s, as they truly possess the ability to think long term.
“In the next 15 years, 95 per cent of world languages will become redundant”, asserted Swarup Mohanty of Mirae Asset. He believes that English is the spoken language of the world and will continue being so, and so vernacular communication is really not a ‘silver bullet’ to overcome the challenge of retail distribution According to Mohanty, there has been too much focus in recent times on finding the ‘next best product’ and less on ‘how to make your client a better investor’. Mohanty believes that focusing on and developing investor behaviour is the real key to building scale.
Heredia expressed his belief that the race to acquire new customers must be accompanied by the parallel endeavour to embrace technology and lower cost means of doing business, in order to penetrate into the retail segment effectively.
In conclusion, Sodhani shared an interesting formula for managing and growing his client base – one that interestingly has the same acronym as his initials “RKS” – that is, “Relationship, Knowledge Sharing and Service”. An effective and simple formula, indeed!
Publication – Hubbis Feature Article