At WhiteOak We keep thinking about how the next journey of our industry would be

BFSI Industry Interview
On: May 26, 2022 | From: Advisorkhoj Team
BFSI Industry Interview in Advisorkhoj - At WhiteOak We keep thinking about how the next journey of our industry would be

Prior to joining WhiteOak Capital Asset Managment Limited, Vaibhav worked with Aditya Birla SL AMC for 14 years and served in various roles across North, South and West India. In his last assignment, he was the Zonal head of West zone for all the distribution channels and was also managing HNI sales for the country.

Vaibhav has over 20 years of experience in retail sales and distribution and has worked with organisations like ICICI Prudential AMC, IDBI Principal AMC and Franklin Templeton (erstwhile Kothari Pioneer Mutual Funds).

Vaibhav holds a Bachelor degree from Punjab University and a PGDM from IMT- Ghaziabad. He has also done a LDP- Finance for Executives from IIM- Bengaluru.

Vaibhav is responsible for driving retail sales for the organisation along with managing the retail distribution partnerships across India.

White Oak Capital Group is well known in the areas of PMS and AIF and now venturing into mutual fund, what opportunities you see in the Indian mutual fund industry?

That's a good question to start with. The opportunity undoubtedly is immense for everyone, be it a new player or any existing player. My sense is that we have a long way to go. Financialization of savings has just begun. Every Indian, across strata of population aspires for financial well-being, better education, lifestyle and so on. Investments can help to fulfil such aspirations and thus, investment as a concept has a long way to go. And within investments, mutual funds are the most suited vehicle. The industry will grow multi fold and so can, every player.

Also, look at this from the perspective of distribution. The number of MFDs required to cater to this growth will be huge. And that's why I keep telling MFD friends to give themselves high targets and not be satisfied with few hundred crores of AUMs.

Coming to other part of the question, I would say that PMS, AIF are complementary products. They are not substitute for MFs and vice versa. Ultra-HNIs, HNIs are diversifying to have various investment philosophies in their portfolio. WhiteOak Capital group can help in diversifying as we will offer MFs and PMS/AIF products as well.

And I am sure, partners are also particular these days that all the investor needs should be fulfilled in their office itself. Thus, partners are also keen to onboard us for both MFs and PMS/AIF.

At WhiteOak, we keep thinking about how the next journey of our industry would be? Will it happen because of few products or brands? No, it won't. There will be so many new things to be done and we are excited to be part of that envisaged journey of mutual fund industry growth.

You have completed the acquisition of Yes Mutual Fund. How will this acquisition impact the existing investors of Yes Mutual Fund, now re-christened as White Oak Mutual Fund?

I believe this is going to be good for the existing investors. WhiteOak Capital group is well known for its investment philosophy and processes, which eventually should help all investors in wealth creation journey, over time.

As of now, through the acquisition of Yes MF, we have 3 debt products- Liquid fund, Overnight fund and Ultra short-term fund. We will offer more products across various asset classes and thus, investors will have more products to invest in.

Are you planning to launch new products? Please provide a glimpse into your future plans as far as mutual funds are concerned.

Absolutely. We will be launching MF products for investing in both domestic and international equities.

We are of the opinion that we must offer funds across the market caps, ELSS category and hybrids to help our investors in their investing journey. We won't have many numbers of funds but will have meaningful ones. We are thinking of launching Flexicap fund, large cap, large & mid cap, mid cap, ELSS and one for international investing. So, this year, we envisage launching about 6 to 7 funds.

What are some aspects that will differentiate White Oak Mutual Fund from other Asset Management Companies, some of which have been in business for several decades?

Differentiation these days is more to do with consistency. Consistency of investment performance, consistency of communication, consistency of service, consistency of engagements and so on. So, to answer your question that how we are going to be different, is ‘consistency orientation'.

For instance, we understand that merit is what investors will look for and merit comes with consistency of performance and not just some brand or theme etc. It doesn’t work that way.

Aashish, our CEO emphasises on the fact that in India, it can't be 'OR'. It must be 'AND'. You can't do active investing or passive. Similarly, either digital or physical, that should not be the way forward. These must be 'and'. Have digital infrastructure and open branches to service and engage. Digital will assist and physical presence will work alongside.

So, at WhiteOak we are creating the digital infrastructure and we are also opening branches across the country to work along with our partners. We want to engage with them, do development activities and grow together.

We are also putting lot of efforts around the service aspects so that we can offer best in class services to our partners and investors. Wherever we are opening the branches, ops & service resources are also being hired. It reflects the effectiveness with which we want to operate.

Importantly, our investment culture, philosophy and our processes will help us differentiate. Let me explain these in few pointers:

  • The investment culture: Comprises of four pillars – investment team, philosophy, process, and portfolio construction.

  • Investment team: Well-resourced investment team with an average relevant experience of 12 years. Every senior sector analyst is paired with an investment analyst, forming two people team for every stock under coverage.

  • Philosophy: A simple bottom-up stock selection philosophy which is that outsized returns can be earned over time by investing in great businesses at attractive values. We seek to invest in companies which present the most powerful combination of business and valuation.

  • Process: We seek to generate alpha through bottom-up stock selection, based on intensive fundamental research and a proprietary rigorous analytical framework called OpcoFinco model.

  • Portfolio Construction The objective of our portfolio construction approach is to ensure that alpha is driven by stock selection and does not get easily overwhelmed by non-stock specific risk factors over any reasonable time-period. We seek to maintain a balanced portfolio reflecting the stock selection capabilities and views of the team rather than being driven by non-stock specific macro factors such as market timing, sector, currency, or other such factor exposures.

What will be your distribution strategies? Will it be a B2B model or B2C model of distribution you are planning for?

Undoubtedly, we are going to be a distribution led organisation. This industry is distribution driven and will continue. What I mentioned earlier, the number of investors will multiply, and this industry requires partnerships to cater to such growth. We will work very closely with MFDs and other partners.

And when I say, we will work together means that we want to take our relationship beyond transactional relationships. We are already speaking with few people who can help us with platforms around learning and development of our partners and their next gen. We are working around having a loyalty program for long term associations.

Can you please help us to understand your plans on increasing your physical footprints or your focus will be to increase the digital footprints?

Like I mentioned, our focus will be on both aspects. Digital footprint is more to do with transactions, convenience etc and we are investing in this space. My colleague, Harit Gautam, who heads digital business is a veteran in this field and is already working on creating the digital infrastructure.

As for branches, we are going to be present across India with about 108 branches. We are very clear that we must be present with our partners at ground. Provide them with timely communication, engagements and give best in class service.

If we are convinced about India story- be it equities or our industry growth, then we must front load our bandwidth and start the work. We can't wait for certain AUM to be built or market to reach certain level and then think of opening branches. Open branches and build size, is what we believe in.

Will you be catering only Top cities, or your plans are to reach out to every location? To be precise on your focus area of distribution includes B-30 locations.

Yes. We will be across T30 and B30 locations. Our country is growing in every nook and corner. Its not happening in certain parts. The income levels, knowledge levels, propensity to invest, everything is growing and hence you just can’t be limited to few geographies.

Look at the SIP growth which everyone is mentioning and speaking about. This growth is visible because of the spread which our industry has achieved. Smaller locations are adding investors and AUMs. We want to be in every such location and offer our products and services.

"The views expressed above are on "as is" basis with no guarantee on usefulness or timeliness."

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