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Business News/ Money / Personal Finance/  Meet India’s longest-standing financial advisors

Meet India’s longest-standing financial advisors

This list of RIAs is meant to serve as a good starting point in your hunt for a suitable financial advisor

Here are some of India’s longest-standing financial advisorsPremium
Here are some of India’s longest-standing financial advisors

It was a decade ago - in January 2013, when the securities market regulator SEBI first introduced its Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) regulations. To mark this significant development, Mint reached out to some of the oldest financial advisors to understand their investment philosophy and their professional journey over the years. Many of them were providing financial advice even prior to 2013. Once the RIA regulations were introduced, they got themselves registered under them.

Here’s a little about all the RIAs that were featured in Mint as part of this special series. This list of RIAs is meant to serve as a good starting point in your hunt for a suitable financial advisor, and is not to be construed as a recommendation in any form. Use the list and the details on each of the financial advisors to understand their approach to financial advice, what to expect and what not from a financial advisor, and the challenges that they have faced at the client level. Interestingly, many advisors reveal it’s tough to convince all clients to act upon the advice offered to them even when it’s in their best interest.

Here’s hoping this list helps you take the next big step in your financial journey. Happy reading!

Meet India’s longest-standing financial advisors
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Meet India’s longest-standing financial advisors

Vishal Dhawan, founder, Plan Ahead Wealth Advisors

Assets under advice: Rs. 1,000 crore. Client size: 300-350 families.

Location: Mumbai. Start of practice: 2003

When it comes to financial advice, the one thing that most people would appreciate is transparency. Vishal Dhawan is doing his bit by listing out their (he and his wife’s) personal portfolios under the disclosure section of their website. Among his proudest moments as a financial advisor are the ones where he helped his clients achieve goals that they aspired for but weren’t sure they could afford.

Suresh Sadagopan, principal officer, Ladder7 Wealth Planners

Assets under advice: Rs. 500 crore. Client size: 160 clients.

Location: Mumbai. Start of practice: 2004

Normally, one would expect a service provider to take on as many clients as possible. But, that’s not so for Suresh Sadagopan. He’s very clear on the kind of clients he wants to advise. “We have consciously taken a call to take only those clients who are suitable for an advisory practice." 70% of his clients are those nearing 40 and up to 55 years of age, and have an average asset size of 2-3 crore.

He feels the one common financial mistake that many people make is not saving enough or rather, spending too much.

Renu Maheshwari, co-founder, Finscholarz Wealth Managers

Assets under advice: Rs. 130 crore. Client size: 120 families.

Location: Chennai. Start of practice: 2013

The first individual to become an RIA in Tamil Nadu, Renu Maheshwari strongly believes that personal finance is strongly intertwined with emotions. “Clients may not be able to tell us what exactly they want. But, as an adviser, we need to understand their needs and then work around that," she says. She finds the ones who want to make a lot of money in a short span of time to be the hardest clients to deal with, a few of which she has even rejected.

Vivek Rege, founder and CEO, VR Wealth Advisors

Assets under advice: Rs. 600 crore. Client size: 140 families.

Location: Mumbai. Start of practice: 2003

One can safely assume that someone would select his/ her financial advisor based on recommendations from family and friends. But the reverse can be true too! Vivek Rege believes in growing his client base only by referrals from his existing clients as he wants to ensure that they are aligned to their thought process. He doesn’t take up clients who engage with multiple advisors and expect him to prove that he can outdo the others by taking on more risk. His average client investment size is Rs. 5 crore.

That said, his firm also has a distribution arm open to those with small amounts to invest, and where the advisory model may not be suitable.

Kalpesh Ashar, founder, Full Circle Financial Planners and Advisors

Assets under advice: Not disclosed. Client size: 55-60 families.

Location: Mumbai. Start of practice: 2005

Kalpesh Ashar’s proudest moment was when he helped clean up the portfolio of a middle-aged client who had been mis-sold many insurance policies. Once that was sorted, he put her on track to start investing. Not only did this lady give him a testimonial but she also helped him get seven to eight new clients.

On the other hand, he is put off by clients who despite all advice only show interest in chasing high returns at any cost.

Lovaii Navlakhi, managing director & CEO, International Money Matters

Assets under advice: Rs. 1,800 crore. Client size: 400 families.

Location: Bengaluru. Start of practice: 2001

As the operational head of International Money Matters, Lovaii Navlakhi relies on scientific risk profiling to determine the risk a client can take. The 2008-09 crisis prompted him to do this – he realised that not everyone who claimed to be willing to take risks was ready to make losses. In fact, cognizant of the fact that it’s hard to control one’s emotions when it comes to one’s finances, he relies on one of his team members as his financial adviser.

International Money Matters is majority-owned by Gopal Srinivasan, chairman of TVS Capital (in his personal capacity). The joint ownership by Srinivasan and Navlakhi is to ensure continuity of the firm.

Shyam Sunder, founder and MD, and Priya Sunder, director and co-founder, PeakAlpha Investment Services

Assets under advice: Rs. 1,350 crore. Client size: over 1,000 families.

Location: Bengaluru. Start of practice: 2005

Priya Sunder and Shyam Sunder believe that their advice must stand the test of time. Recounting their earlier years, Priya Sunder says, “Whatever we chose to advise our customers, we would have to be able to defend ourselves in future reviews, be it three months or three years later." It’s no wonder that their first client from 18 years ago continues to be with them even today.

Touching upon what has changed over the years, they highlight that people’s aspirations are higher today. Unlike in the past, a majority of people today, want to send their children for an overseas education. This is something that many investment portfolios have to be structured to account for. Not only that, people want to plan and allocate for holidays with their families.

Tarun Birani, founder and CEO, TBNG Capital Advisors

Assets under advice: Rs. 400 crore. Client size: over 170 families.

Location: Mumbai. Start of practice: early 2000s

It was his experience of seeing investment products being pushed to brokerage clients that got him to start his own advisory practice. He’s proud of several instances where he got his clients to move from risky and concentrated investment approaches to diversified portfolios and goal-based planning to help them achieve their targets.

Tarun Birani believes in not mixing insurance and investment, and investing only that money in equity which can be put away for at least five years

Dilshad Billimoria, managing director and principal officer, Dilzer Consultants Assets under advice: Rs. 550 crore. Client size: over 200 families.

Location: Bengaluru. Start of practice: early 2000s

Dilshad Billimoria recounts how taking up the Certified Financial Planning (CFP) course in 2008 drastically changed her approach – from selling various investment products to managing clients’ money to better serve their interests. In fact, her first client turned out to be someone who remembered her from her mutual fund distribution days – when she had tried to understand what this person wanted rather than pushing products to him. She started out as a business development officer with Birla Sun Life Distribution.

To ensure that individual biases don’t creep into the advice that her firm offers to clients, she relies on teamwork rather than on any individual.

Compiled by Maulik M

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Published: 20 Jan 2023, 09:14 PM IST
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