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My vision in numeric terms would be to register atleast 2 lakh advisors on the portal and cover atleast 750 locations across the nation in the next two years...

On: Aug 14, 2013 | Duration: 1.00 hrs | From:indusinside.com
Mr Pradip Chakrabarty
Founder and CEO - www.advisorkhoj.com - India\'s Only On-Line Directory for Financial Advisors

Interview taken by Mr. Anish Tulshyan

Could we start with a brief about the company.

AdvisorKhoj is India’s first and only online directory for financial advisors. Financial advisors meaning mutual fund agents, insurance agents, tax consultants, tax return filers, national pension scheme selling agents, fixed deposits, bond, brokers and sub-brokers dealing in stock markets.

In India mostly when individuals invest they do not know their advisors well, and they are approached mainly through references.

Our company aims at putting up the bio of the advisor including details like their license number, Experience, Achievements and the companies and services he is propagating or advising on.

One can search the advisor based on the location of his choice and also compare other advisors registered on the website and then directly contact him.

The basic idea of having the portal is to connect our qualified and capable advisors to the investors and thus enable every Indian with a credible and competent financial advice in his or her neighborhood.

Do you have a vision specified for the company, in terms of where you want to see the company in the next few years?

My vision is to make good financial advice made available to all the Indians.

Currently 6% to 7% of the population has access to financial markets, mutual funds and insurance.

My vision in numeric terms would be to register atleast 2 lakh advisors on the portal and cover atleast 750 locations across the nation in the next two years. And also to cater to almost 1% of the total population%, given the condition that internet has not reached to all areas of the country.

Normally people believe that the information provided on the internet is not fully true.
So how do you particularly tackle that issue with Indians being very traditional in their approach when it comes to handling money.?

One of the major reasons for mis-selling being rampant in India is the traditionalist approach of the Indians in investing.

When you approach an advisor, the basic idea is to sell a product and not a concept, this indicating a high possibility of an individual buying a particular product which will probably fetch a good amount of commission to the advisor and maybe not a good return to him.

To overcome this issue you then access to the internet and contact a qualified and competent advisor who may suggest you a product and will also reveal his commission.
Or he would just give a plain advice, charge his fee and will ask you to approach the service provider to buy a particular product/s, the service provider then getting the commission for it and not the advisor.

This situation prevails in all developed countries, unlike in India where this trend is slowly emerging.

And I do not buy this idea that internet provides with fake information. The choice rests with the individuals to make a wise decision and segregate the accurate information from inaccurate.

As far as our company is concerned we claim that our advisors are competent because we do a due diligence in checking the details of the advisors like his license number, its validity and authenticity. We take off the services of the advisor the moment the validity of his license expires, but of course before serving a reminder to him regarding the same.

Are there any strategic issues with this industry or this company as such? In terms of the placement of the product or decision regarding choosing the locations?

We are choosing the cities based on whether they belong to the tier1,tier 2 or tier 3 category.

What we do is we track the cities where the private banks are located. These banks already having their research done and a certain scale of business already realized in that area ,we choose that location.

Then we create a database of the cities in terms of their overall population and strategize accordingly relating to issues such as the number of advisors required in a particular area etc

You have one more company in the name of Right Choice Securities Pvt. Ltd ,can you tell me a brief about that as well?

It is a financial advisory company founded in 1997 which is a leading one in the eastern India.

As a true ,transparent and professional entrepreneur, currently I am not actively involved with it, to avoid conflict of interest between that company and my new venture which deals with similar business.

Could you give us a brief description about your professional journey till date?

This is a very interesting story. I started working from the age 16 by joining a trade union office at a salary of Rs.50 in the year 1978, my schedule being work during the day and studies at night and evening tuitions that would fetch me Rs.30 in the evening.

After my graduation I took up some odd jobs mainly involving sales of products of various companies. I joined a company called Televista electronics and worked there for another 1.5 years . Later I joined a multinational company in Patna, Madura Coats Ltd. a U.K based company, as a clerk in the year 1986 with a salary of Rs 600.

With the advent of computers in India, I was shifted to the Electronic Data Processing department (the current day I.T. department), my job being to transfer the client database from the manual to the electronic mode.

In 1989, with the retirement of my father and a collateral financial crunch that followed, I took up life insurance and UTI agency as a part time job, following the advice of one of my uncles. So from 1989 to 1994 it was a part time business and a full time job.

With my daughter’s birth in 1994, I resigned from my job and then founded my first company in 1994, along with my brother and one of my friends in order to earn more and in a hope of providing her with a better life. We earned a good reputation and established an excellent network through this business.

In 2002 I came to Calcutta for further expansion of the business and till 2012 I was involved in it actively. Of late with a view to do something valuable for financial services domain and to give a brand identity to all my fellow advisors, I started this new venture after doing thorough research.

When you were starting your company what all obstacles did you face?

I did not face many obstacles while establishing the company due to lesser competition unlike today. Earlier it did not matter to the clients whether the clients know an individual or a company. However scaling up the business becomes relatively easier once you start a company because that becomes a brand, a corporate.

Nowadays what does a normal working day of yours look like?

Mentally I am involved in my work for 24 hours. But having said that typically my day would start at 9.30 a.m. and end at 6.30 p.m. Apart from giving time to family I do make it a point to spare some time on the internet and writing articles and blogs and working on things which may not be possible to do in the office.

Is balancing the personal and professional life commitments challenging?

No. I am very fortunate in this regard because I have total support of my family and without their support I would not have been where I am today. They are also very participative in the work I do. For example, my elder daughter handles the social media for the new venture and the younger one will do any odd job that I ask for!

In order to thrive in the industry especially in this industry what are the skill-sets required by an individual?

The first skill which I believe that an individual must possess is to have a firm belief in his ideas, the second being the correct temperament to accept failures and successes alike because I believe that each time you fail you learn something.

And the third quality should be the commitment to the business for long term unlike the current trend of setting up a business and selling it off within barely a few years. Also you should give in your 100% and focus on one issue at a time.

How important is it to have a strong value system ?

Value system? I think this question need not be answered. Whatever your are today that is due to your value system adopted by your parents and imbibed in you which definitely reflects in your work. However, if you take up a job, the value system of your work may change or align according to the one adopted by the company in which you work.

With the changes in the economy how does that affect the market and how do you cope with that

Every business is linked to the economy. If the economy is doing well, businesses do well. With my experience I can suggest that an entrepreneur must keep the business simple, with lower costs and lower fixed expenditures. So when the economy faces a negative impact and one needs to scale down operations, it becomes relatively easier. The basic idea is to obviously earn more when the economy is booming but also to be able to maintain enough money for the survival of the business when the economy is affected adversely.

What qualities do you look for while recruiting a candidate?

Firstly I would try to gauge the value system of the candidate, next of course would be his educational qualifications and his ability to commit to the company.

Is there any favourite one quality for you from all these 3-4 qualities?

The first quality that I personally believe is necessary that an individual should be a good person carrying a good value system. Once you possess that quality, other things follow automatically.

Do you have any favourite questions that you ask in the interview normally?

Not really. The questions asked are normally spontaneous.

Can you please comment on your leadership style.

I am a very participative leader.

Can you please relate strategy and execution.

This is an issue where majority of the individuals struggle. Strategy is simple ,execution is relatively complex. There is no point having a strategy or alternative strategies if you fail to execute it.

For the growth of the company and its sustainability, strategy should be followed by execution and you should review that execution. The best of execution in my view is being to delegate.

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