The market is so huge but there are not many players doing the right things!

Financial Advisors Interview
On: Jan 29, 2014 | From: Saurabh Mittal
Financial Advisors Interview in Advisorkhoj - The market is so huge but there are not many players doing the right things!

Saurabh Mittal is a partner in Circle Wealth Advisors, providing financial planning and wealth management services to its niche client base. Circle Wealth Advisors, originally founded as SecureLife in 2000 is an investment advisory firm with a difference. Following their belief system, they create customized investment portfolio for their clients. Thus, they represent the customer as oppose to representing any product or manufacturer.

A Commerce Graduate and CFP, Saurabh has a decade's experience in financial markets. He oversees the office management, investment management and compliance functions of Circle Wealth Advisors. Cash flow management is his forte and he advises Circle's business clients on prudently managing their cash flow and investments.

Saurabh features daily on Radio One 94.3fm, and shares his insights about personal finance on the very popular show "Good Morning Mumbai" with RJ Hrishi K. His segment has received some great reviews and is been on air since April of 2012.

Saurabh you have been part of the financial service industry for last 10 years, what triggered you to be a part of this space?

Since I am from commerce background and from a Marwari family, numbers always excited me. While I was involved in my family cloth business, my college friend took up an insurance agency and started operating from my office. That gave me an insight into the world of financial investments and due to my eagerness, I jumped in this industry.

When you entered the industry, what products were you offering to clients and currently what basket do you offer?

My friend had started off with insurance products, mainly life insurance from LIC of India and general insurance from New India Assurance Co. Over time, we broadened the portfolio to offer other investment products like fixed deposits, mutual funds, direct equities and structured products. We also used to file tax returns for salaried employees by putting up desk in the corporate offices in Mumbai. This used to give us a database for marketing the financial products throughout the year.

After SELLING for 10 years, we decided to move on from there. In Jan 2011, we changed our business model from that of distribution to Wealth Management. Instead of offering the products of manufacturers, we moved to be on client side – looking at investments from the clients perspective and advising the allocation across various asset classes. we now do only fee based financial planning, investment management and other advisory services.

You strongly support financial planning, how many clients are ready to understand the importance of it and is ready to pay the fees for your comprehensive services?

It is always a notion in the industry that clients are not willing to pay fees. Let me make is clear that it is not true. Clients are willing to pay a fee, rather they are happy to do so, but we need to show them value. If we offer and deliver value added services, clients will pay. Where we, as financial advisors, feel as challenge is in our own notions and thoughts that the client will not pay. Once we are sure about the value that we bring to the table and are confident about our delivery, clients will never blink a eye. Personally I have not come across any person who have hesitated in paying us a fee, once we had crossed our own mind hurdle.

How do you plan to make financial planning service popular among investors?

Firstly, we are clearly communicating that financial planning is not only about investing. People have a notion that they can have a financial plan, when they are in pink of their health. Actually a plan is needed at every stage of life, right from the start of career to post retirement period. We have devised various strategies and are trying to give some tangibility to financial planning by productising it.

What are the different marketing activities do you conduct, to make yourself popular among investors?

Most importantly we send 2 weekly mails to a database of about 8000 emails. One mail is about Learning lessons of Life, which is sent every Monday to give a kick-start to the week, this email is called "Monday Mantra". Second email is about explaining basic concepts of finance to keep our readers updated, this is called "Thursday Trivia" and is sent every Thursday. Apart from this Thursday Trivia mails are also published on my blog,

We also do investor education meets, where eminent speakers and fund managers give their prospectives. Our next event is happening on 15th March on the occasion of "World Investor Day"

You and your partner are a part of a radio show 94.3 radio one. Can you brief us more about the show? How does it benefit investors?

The show Good Morning Mumbai is hosted by eminent RJ Hrishi K. Currently my partner Mukul is participating in the show. Everyday we speak about current affairs and various issues related to personal finance and tax. Many listeners benefited by getting their queries answered.

What are the services do you offer? Do you charge clients for your services?

On a top horizon level we offer Financial Planning and Investment management services, to do the complete wealth management. Apart from that there are various ancillary services like creating tax efficient salary structures for our clients, Filing tax returns etc. We charge annual financial planning and investment management fees.

How many clients do you manage under your umbrella? How do you plan to grow?

We have a client base of 700 families. However, these are from the distribution era which are now serviced by our support team. On the Wealth Management side, we currently manage 60 relationships. We believe that if one has to follow true client centric planning and management model, one can actively manage only about 40 relationships. This is one of our many principles. Accordingly, these 60 relationships are divided between me and Mukul.

Trust is the most important element in our business. When a client trusts you, he will get his friends and colleagues to work with you. That’s how this business grows. And trust gets build over a period of time. We are now increasing our team size by hiring more like minded people, who will grow the business and client relationships the way we do. We will keep adding more resources to grow both the overall revenue as well as the bottom line. We have been growing our business by 40% year on year, and expect it go continue at this pace for next 5 years as the market is so huge and there are not many players doing the right things.

How do you differentiate yourself from other advisors?

Our biggest difference is the context of our business; in our first meeting we communicate this to our client. We tell them that for us it is important to achieve three things Growth, Peace of Mind and Satisfaction. We want this for every one right from ourselves to our clients, staff members or any one associated with us. Hence we would go any mile to ensure that our clients are not restless or worried about how their finances are handled.

Plus, our business model is not based on transactions done for the clients. Its purely on the retention of the clients. We believe if we offer the right advice and service, the revenue will automatically follow, albeit a few years later. This is what others lack. Most of the advisors are not willing to stay put and be patient.

Your advice to investors?

I think everyone knows what is right for them, it is only their action or inaction that plays the role. Not as an advice but as an appeal I would like to communicate that Planning and discipline is the key to financial success. I would like to quote this financial planning mantra from Scott Adams which aptly puts my point. "Make a will. Pay off your credit cards. Get term life insurance if you have a family to support. Fund your 401(k) (Read retirement corpus) to the maximum. Fund your IRA to the maximum. Buy a house if you want to live in a house and you can afford it. Put six months expenses in a money market fund. Take whatever money is left over and invest 70% in a stock index fund and 30% in a bond fund through any discount broker and never touch it until retirement."