This 35-year-old IFA manages Rs 1,000 crore AUA

Samir Vora of Ocean Finvest aims to have 100 branch offices by 2022.
By Morningstar |  28-11-18 | 

After completing his graduation in commerce from Bhavnagar in 2002, Samir Vora took up a job at Karvy Stock Broking in Mumbai. After tying the knot in 2011 he decided to move to his hometown. In Ahmedabad, he got an opportunity to work with ICICI Securities where he was responsible for building the independent financial adviser network.  After his 12-year stint in sales, Samir decided to take the entrepreneurial plunge as he had developed a good understanding about products, sales and investors. Samir was drawing a salary of Rs 18 lakh per annum from his last job. He thought that an AUM of Rs 25 crore would help replace this income.

Initial Journey

He started building his client base, who were mostly his industry friends and acquaintances. After a few months, he realized that he could achieve more than Rs 25 crore AUM, given the huge potential. Since then, there has been no looking back.

Cut to today, he manages AUM of Rs 1,000 crore across mutual funds, portfolio management services, alternative investment funds and bonds. In the first year, he built an AUM of Rs 25 crore by operating from his home. Samir realized that he has to have an office and a marketing strategy in order to reach his target audience – high net worth individuals. “I have observed that distributors are sometimes averse to approaching HNIs as they think that bankers and wealth managers are already advising them. But wealth managers usually sell structured products and portfolio management services, or, PMS to such clients. This is why I started focusing on this segment by offering them mutual funds,” says Samir.

After reaching Rs 25 crore assets in the first year, he set up his first office in November 2014 in Ahmedabad.

He started approaching the marwadi community, chartered accountants, doctors, cloth merchants by offering them to advice on their existing portfolio. “I had to be different from other distributors. If you come across as any other agent selling mutual fund you may not get business. Thus, I did not try to push any product. I talked about offering research-based advice,” explains Samir.

Focus on Research

To strengthen his research capabilities, Samir started using Morningstar Advisor Workstation, or AWS, from June 2016. “One feature which I found extremely useful is Portfolio X Ray. After uploading prospects existing portfolio in AWS, I get a 360-degree view of the complete portfolio - stock/sector overlap, alpha, beta, sharpe and treynor ratio of the portfolio. It shows where I can fill the gap by either removing or adding new funds. Prospects get impressed by looking at the depth of these reports. They know that the advice is unbiased because of the scientific approach. It has helped me convert many HNI clients,” says Samir.

After the introduction of direct plans and Registered Investment Adviser model, Samir realised the potential of direct plans.  “The popularity of direct plans is on the rise. So we thought why not offer direct plans and charge an advisory fee. We present both options (regular and direct) to clients and let them choose the model they are comfortable with,” says Samir.  He has Rs 200 crore in regular plans and Rs 280 crore in direct assets.

Besides mutual funds, insurance and structured products, he also offers bonds from the secondary market. His research team carries out an internal due diligence of different bonds floated by companies. “We prefer to sell highly rated quality paper. We avoid recommending bonds which offer the highest returns. As best practice, we tend to rely on our internal research rather than the ratings of research firms. We have not faced any defaults yet,” says Samir.

Three-pronged marketing strategy

Let’s look at the three strategies which have helped him acquire clients.

1) Tellecalling

Besides referrals, Samir also gets clients from tellecalling. While this marketing tool sounds outdated in the era of social media and technology, Samir says that it is working for him. “We have a well-qualified team having MBA qualifications who do this job. They don’t talk about products and are not pushy. Rather, they talk about the services offered by our company and how we can help them reach their financial goals,” says Samir.  Apart from salary, Samir offers incentives and profit-sharing to his team if the branch breaks even. As of now, only his Bhavnagar branch is profitable. Samir says his team converts 50-60 clients every month from this activity.

2) Branch offices

Besides, Samir has been expanding his practice by adding branch offices. He identifies the city which offers the maximum business opportunity. One of the key parameters he looks at while identifying cities is the bank deposit saving rate. Higher the saving rate, bigger the opportunity to transition people towards mutual funds. To make further inroads into HNI segment, Samir says that expanding the physical reach is his focus area. “Retail book can be expanded through technology but HNI need the touch and feel. So having branch office is essential to tap into this market,” observes Samir. The break-even time for a branch depends on the city and the cost. For instance, Samir says that a branch in Baroda could break even at Rs 20 crore AUM while in Mumbai it could take Rs 35 crore worth assets.

3) Digital Marketing

Samir has been using social media platforms like Quora, blog, Facebook, Twitter and search engine optimization actively to increase his firm’s visibility. He has a dedicated team which continuously generates new ideas to drive this activity.

His business has grown by leaps and bounds by deploying these three strategies. Today, he has a team of 22 professionals across seven locations - Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Ahmedabad, Baroda, Surat, Valsad and Mumbai. And he gets a lot of leads from social media marketing.

Technological Ease

Samir has built all technological and service capabilities to help his investors have a seamless experience. For instance, he has a mobile app, a website with chat facility and a client service support team. All of his transactions happen online through BSE Star MF platform. He has been one of the top volume contributors on BSE StAR MF.

Road Ahead

His firm Ocean Finvest serves 1,900 clients across all products with average ticket size of Rs 50 lakh per client.

Samir has ambitious plans. He aims to have 100 offices by 2022 entirely self-funded. He is planning to add more branches in existing cities where he has offices which are providing high volume and is looking for newer cities. These branches will help him expand his HNI client base.

His firm also has a healthy book of Rs 80 crore in alternate funds and PMS. Having gained expertise in advising third party products, Samir wishes to become a manufacturer. In the next five years, he plans to apply for a PMS license. For this, he is building his firm’s intellectual capital.

This post is authored by Ravi Samalad.

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bushra hasan
Dec 3 2018 03:35 PM
How come he is offering direct and regular both at the same time ?????
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