Use your unique ability to create innovative solutions

Popular notion is that Apple is the undisputed king of innovation in the world of digital technology. They are widely seen as 2 years ahead of competition, they are well known for their uncanny ability to predict customer needs and create products accordingly, rather than adopting the time-tested approach of responding swiftly to emerging customer needs.

But, the amazing part of Apple's innovation story is that more often than not, Apple hasn't really been the inventor. They haven't in most cases been the originator of break-through ideas. What Apple is really smart at is sensing what out of available technologies can be deftly repurposed and smartly packaged to offer a whole new consumer experience. In this laudable Apple ability lies a very important lesson for our business - on how to repurpose and repackage existing products and propositions to offer a whole new experience for our investors.

Consider these facts:

imgbd Apple did not invent either the PC or the lightweight laptop or the all-in-one PC. What it did was to take the existing lightweight laptop, the existing all-in-one PC and its own highly intuitive icon based browsing experience to develop the Apple Macbook - which continues to be seen even today as the last word in laptops.

imgbd Apple introduced its famed multi-touch technology in its i-phone back in 2007 - an accomplishment that was regarded as a real breakthrough in delivering a superior customer experience. This technology wasn't actually invented by Apple - it was publicly demonstrated a year earlier to a lot of critical acclaim and in fact was originally developed by another entity altogether in 2005. To its credit, Apple used this technology very intelligently in its smartphone and promoted it so vigorously that the world stood up and took notice.

imgbd When Apple introduced its fingerprint sensor technology in its i-phone 5s in 2012, while it was the first mobile handset manufacturer to adopt the technology, the technology itself was around for many years and served many security applications. What Apple did was to sense the need for enhanced security in smartphones ahead of time and bring into mobile phones a technology to the common man that was once considered the exclusive preserve of high security operations.

Repackaging and re-purposing is smart innovation

The list can go on and on - but the point remains the same: innovation does not have to be coming up with a brainwave that nobody else has had in the world before you. Smart innovation can simply mean applying what's already available in a whole new way to offer an unparalleled customer experience.

Our industry has seen a few such smart innovative applications of existing products, propositions and technology to launch exciting new customer propositions. Some examples:

Smart savings solutions: liquid fund + instant withdrawal facility upto a ceiling amount + mobile technology + single click invest and redeem + debit card = superior savings account compared to bank savings accounts.

Balanced advantage funds category: smart combination of equity + debt + arbitrage with a model based disciplined asset allocation = an all weather, volatility fighting wealth creator product that does away conclusively with the felt need to time the market.

F&O to limit downside: We are now beginning to see a new breed of retail mutual fund products that promise to limit the downside using put options - a great step forward in bringing to the common man, sophisticated risk management solutions otherwise used only by savvy direct equity investors and PMS/AIF providers. These will no doubt, grow in relevance as investors fret about market valuations on one hand but do not want to miss out on the longer term story on the other hand.

Distributors have a unique ability that fund houses don't

The fund industry will continue its efforts on such packaging innovations. But beyond that, there's a lot that distributors can do, by packaging products across categories to offer truly unique solutions to their clients. Here are some thoughts for your consideration - the key here is not the individual components - those are all well known to you already - its about intelligently packaging them into neat solutions that you offer to your clients, under your brand.

  1. Long term SIPs + reducing term plans + personal accident cover ' to offer a comprehensive "suraksha kavatch" to your clients goal based investments

  2. 8% RBI bonds (upto tax exemption threshold) + accrual funds with SWPs + equity savings funds with SWPs ' to offer an optimally balanced, tax advantageous, inflation fighting retirement income solution to your clients

  3. Liquid funds with an overdraft facility against them at competitive rates as an alternative to idle current account balances of traders who may perhaps draw down their balances only 3-4 times a year, but keep the floats anyway - just in case.

The short point is this: you are uniquely placed in your ability to access investment, protection and lending products from multiple providers to tailor-make solutions for your clients. Use this ability innovatively and come up with well packaged solutions like Apple has done so often, to offer your clients an unmatched and unbeatable financial experience.


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