Secret mantras of three successful advisers

Insights from the key learnings of leading advisers.
By Ravi Samalad |  07-02-18 | 
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About the Author
Ravi Samalad is Assistant Manager - Editoral for

Succeeding in advisory requires constant learning, adapting to change and acting in the best interest of clients. Morningstar asked a few leading advisers about the most important lessons they had learned throughout their careers. These advisers emphasized the need for setting client expectations right and adoption of technology. Some recommended that advisers need to institutionalize their practices and develop expertise in behavioral finance to manage client emotions well.

Here are some nuggets of wisdom from three seasoned advisers.

Amar Pandit, Founder & Chief Happiness Officer, Happyness Factory

Find your ideal client profile

Work with clients that you truly enjoy working. Define your ideal client profile and work with clients who only fit this profile. I know of advisers who work with clients just because of their assets but do not really enjoy working with them. The client-adviser relationship is like a marriage and you would do really well in choosing the right clients to work with and most importantly who not to work with. We have let go of a Rs 200 crore portfolio when the prospect had unrealistic expectations and also didn’t align with our investing philosophy. It is a very difficult call for many advisers but if you have to build a true client-centric world class practice, then this is the first step.

Invest in your business

Advisers must invest in people, processes and technology to deliver an amazing client experience. A true client-centered adviser must be able to take care of his client needs much better than any other firm. This can only happen if you have invested well in building your practice. I see that many people hesitate in making investments in their own firms. However, this is the only way to deliver a wow client experience and build scale.

Shifali Satsangee, Founder, Funds Ve’daa  

Preset expectations

During our initial engagements with the client, we clearly explain to them about the omnipresent behavioral biases (greed and fear) they may encounter with market movements. Having set their expectations right has lowered the chances of clients having knee-jerk reactions and basing their decisions on ongoing market trends.

In a handful of cases where they still seemed to be affected by the noise and the news, we ask them logical ‘what if’ questions along with ‘scenario planning’ wherein we develop plausible scenarios and discuss the implications which may occur due to that particular decision. We learnt that scenario planning is a very effective tool to do away with myopic behavioral biases and visions. Most importantly, we have realized that we are more than just advisers who configure products to client needs and goals. We are also psychologists. We have to handle human behavior and handhold our clients through ups and downs of markets.

Keep it simple

Drawing simple day-to-day analogies and parallels through narratives helps investors relate easily to what we want to communicate. Also, the probability of investors recalling what we conveyed to them is higher, when conveyed through anecdotes. For instance, while explaining about the concept of systematic investment plans or SIPs, we use the analogy of a wealth meter and health meter. For a healthy lifestyle, we need to exercise regularly. The same way for a financially comfortable life, we need to invest regularly.

Srikanth Meenakshi, Founder and Director, FundsIndia

Educate clients

Don’t hesitate to educate. People love to learn new things. The key is packaging – clients do not have the time to sit for hour long seminars or read up long articles. However, as an adviser, I’ve tried to slip in a nugget of information about investments and the financial markets in every conversation I have with a client. Over a period of time, two things happen. Firstly, the client starts trusting you more and secondly the client becomes a more informed person who is easier to manage.

Be consistent

Advisory philosophies and approaches vary from one adviser to another. But, as an adviser, one should have a world-view of investments and an approach to portfolio management and stick to it. Consistency to the point of being boring is a hallmark of great advisers. My clients, over a period of time, will most likely know what my advice would be in a given situation. Having a simple philosophy and being consistent about it makes an adviser trust-worthy and reliable.

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