WF: Congratulations on the launch of i-Advise. What were the insights that led to the development of this application? What were the gaps you perceived in distributor-client interactions?
Ankur: Our first observation was that when an IFA goes out to meet his client, he doesn't have all the information he needs in one place, which can help him have an informed conversation with his client. He has to typically carry a lot of data, information, presentations, application forms, news clippings, market updates etc with him, which will be handy during a conversation on funds and markets. Having all this in a single place, in electronic form, accessible through a hand held device, would enhance his productivity significantly and improve the client experience also very significantly. That was one key objective that went into the making of i-advice.
Secondly, the new regulatory environment now makes it mandatory for all distributors to ensure product suitability, which means at least a simple risk profiling exercise and suggested asset allocation, which is duly recorded, is the need of the hour.
Thirdly, as more and more distributors endeavour to move from a product push approach to a goal based sales approach, access to simple goal planners is very critical to help them in this process.
i-advise has been developed in a manner that integrates all these 3 key requirements into a single downloadable application that can be used on any tablet by our distributors.
WF: What are the modules of i-Advise? In what ways will it really change the way an advisor works today?
Ankur: There are various segments from which he can choose. There is the information zone where there are live online news articles which are available; there are pre-recorded interviews with the investment team and senior management team of L&T either in a video form or in form of a Perspective note which we have put up, which he can use. These articles cover important market as well as product perspectives. There are presentations from L&T MF that he can use.
Then, there is a fund comparison zone. He can compare L&T MF products against different benchmarks and also against competition. He can choose schemes and compare and demonstrate to the clients in terms of how the funds are doing. There are multiple options in terms of benchmarks as well. For example, if you want to see how a hybrid fund has done against a pure gold index or a pure equity index, you can select the benchmarks and get your comparative performance.
There is a host of business MI which will be very useful for the IFA, all of which is updated online on his tablet. He can show L&T account statements to his clients online from his tablet. He can look at his own top ten customers, at all points in time and see their asset allocation in L&T only of course. He can get information on operational aspects such as SIPs which are expiring in one month's time or two months time. He would know what his brokerage for a particular product. He can download his brokerage statement historically as to what brokerage he got. The entire MIS report will be there.
From an L&T product perspective, there are some more features. There is L&T related information available in terms of application forms, office addresses, office phone numbers etc. In case of application forms a unique feature has been introduced. If he is going and meeting a client and if he is able to convince the client and the client wants to make an investment, all he has to do is mail that application form to his client which will come out with a pre printed ARN on it and details filled in. It will be in the pdf format. The client will have to print it. The financial advisor has to get the client's signature on it and collect the cheque.
Then there is the basic risk profiler. There are 6 basic questions that help in understanding the client's profile. When the IFA is meeting the client for the very first time, he can ask these basic questions, get a score and understand from that the client's risk appetite which will enable identification of the appropriate bracket in which to place the investor - aggressive, conservative etc. This will help in the product suitability which is a SEBI requirement now. The risk profile can also be saved on his tablet and can also be mailed to the customer. So in that sense he is closing the loop on the discussion with the client and articulate the basis for recommending products. He will be in a better position to accordingly pitch products as well. An important aspect here is that all client data that he captures in the risk profiler and in the goal planners will be stored only on his tablet and not with L&T MF.
In the next segment, you have the calculators like SIP calculator, retirement calculator etc. There is an extensive retirement planner. There are about 7 different calculators which are available. The IFA can demonstrate the plan to the client and get client conversations to be more goal based rather than product based.
Some sections - especially where business MI and clients' portfolio information is involved, will be accessible only after registration and verification. The verification process has three key elements - PAN, Email id and Mobile number. Only once these are vetted against what's captured at the time of registration, can the data be accessed.
By using i-Advise, from a pre-sale perspective, the IFA can be compliant from a product suitability point of view because you are doing a risk profiling and you are having it on record. He can also adopt a simple goal based strategy because he also gets all of these planning tools for free. From a post sale perspective we have the entire operational backend support which is available to him online.
I'd like to add here that there is no cost whatsoever for IFAs to download and use i-Advise. All registered distributors of L&T MF are welcome to download the app, use it and enhance the quality of their client engagement and their client advise. There is a simple one time registration to use the app, after which, you can use all features of i-Advise, as you think helps you manage your business better and serve your clients better.
WF: What are the next steps for i-Advise?
Ankur: We have currently made this available only for tablets. It is available on IOS and Android platforms. The next step would be that we will make them available on mobile phones - Iphones and Android based phones. There are some technical developments that need to get done so that probably would be in the next versions.
From an IFA experience perspective, most of the operational part is taken care of. But we look forward to feedback from IFAs once they start using i-Advise, to help us freeze the components of version 2.
We want to add transactional capability as well in it. Now one of the biggest challenges from transactional capabilities is that unless the investor is registered with us for online transactions, the first level of documentation required is still offline. Our endeavour is to make this also an online transaction wherein the transaction would get routed through the website of L&T MF but the ARN would be captured for distributors.
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