A unique platform by bankers, for bankers


We have seen many bankers turn into successful independent financial advisors over the years. We have seen bankers joining hands to build large independent practices too. But what is innovative about the story of MoneyGain, is that it has been set up by two successful banker-turned-IFAs as a platform for fellow banker-turned-IFAs and for bankers who wish to turn into IFAs. By bankers, for bankers, as it were. And the unique aspect about this platform is not a technology solution, but an ability to create and access a suite of products that HNIs and UHNIs have appetite for, and which are typically out of reach for independent advisors. Read on as Sachin Jain takes us through his journey of first successfully setting up Banyan Tree Wealth, Delhi and then teaming up with Shobhit Gupta of SNB Wealth, Chandigarh to create a promising and innovative start up: MoneyGain - a platform by bankers, for bankers.

Building a private bank after the great meltdown

I started my career in 2003 with HDFC Bank's wealth team - it was an exciting time as the big bull market was just starting. After stints there and at ABN Amro and Citi, I joined SCB's private banking start-up team in 2008, to be part of a team that was tasked with building a new private banking business - in the aftermath of the great financial meltdown. That was a huge learning experience and a very fulfilling one at that. I grew to become head of investment advisory and then director in the business, and led the North team's efforts to build an AuM from zero to over Rs.4,000 crores by the time I left in 2015.

SCB's regulatory challenges globally were impacting business growth. When I made the decision to move on from SCB, I mulled options of joining an Indian bank owned private banking business and an NBFC owned one. Finally, I decided to do neither, and took the entrepreneurial plunge, in an effort to build a private wealth business with no shackles, and no focus other than the clients we serve. I thought I will give it an honest shot, and if things don't work out, I can always go back and find a job in a private wealth business.

Banyan Tree

In 2015, I joined hands with Gaurav Kumar, an ex-colleague who had quit SCB a year before me, to set up Banyan Tree Wealth. Our endeavour was to build a private wealth business on the foundations of honesty, transparency, absolute client focus and genuine long term outlook. Gaurav is an equity market specialist, which enabled us to offer a suite of products across mutual funds, alternates as well as direct equities.

We got our ARN in Sep 2015, and by July 2016, we had already crossed Rs.100 crores in MF AuM, and there was no looking back. Though we got off to a good start, it wasn't without challenges. We got clients into equity, then markets corrected in early 2016 and we worked doubly hard to ensure that clients kept their faith in equities and stayed invested. Just when that settled down, we had demonetization and its share of concerns. Keeping clients invested through bouts of market volatility is an ongoing job - as volatility has to be negotiated if wealth has to be created.

Two challenges that banker-turned-IFAs face

As I made the transition from being a banker to an entrepreneur, I saw and experienced all the upsides of independence, but I also experienced two challenges. One is access to products. There are many structures and alternate strategies that you have access to as a banker, which are not easily available as an IFA because one cannot independently commit to the volume requirements for such solutions. I know many IFAs are generally sceptical about structured products, but I can tell you from my experience, that there are many solutions that are genuinely interesting for clients and HNI and UHNI clients do have a keen interest in them. Not being able to provide them is a competitive disadvantage.

The second aspect is missing the power of synergy. When bright minds work together, you can create magic. You can build better, you can find solutions better, you can weather storms better. That's what a team is all about - and that is what one misses out when you move out from being a member of a team in a bank to being an independent entrepreneur.

MoneyGain - a platform by bankers, for bankers

That's what got me thinking about how to find a solution that retains all the good aspects of independence and entrepreneurial spirit, while overcoming these challenges. My quest for a solution led me to interact extensively with Shobhit Gupta of SNB Wealth, Chandigarh, who, in a short span of just 3 years, has built up a hugely successful wealth practice in Chandigarh with an AuMin excess of Rs.200 crores.

We decided to come together to create a unique platform that will offer a plug-and-play solution to bankers who wish to become entrepreneurs. That idea created MoneyGain - a platform by bankers, for bankers.

The platform will retain the advisor's independence - which is at the core of the decision to quit a banking career - but will address the two challenges that I discussed. When you have many like minded banker-turned-IFAs who come together, you automatically build scale in terms of your combined client book, which gets you far better product access. Let me give you just a couple of examples on product access that comes with scale:

  1. Secondary market for bonds: This is a rapidly growing space and one where scale offers huge advantages, in terms of ability to source and place lots in a win-win manner. HNI clients have large appetite for bonds, and our ability to offer competitive solutions in this space is critically dependent on scale.

  2. PMS solutions: You can structure PMS solutions for your combined client space that is truly bespoke and tailored to their needs. Its not just equity PMS I am talking about - there are many interesting solutions even in the debt space that one can put together, when you talk to product providers - provided you can offer some commitment on volumes - which an independent advisor cannot.

  3. Loan syndication - you get much better deals on leveraged transactions when you talk scale - and that is a direct benefit to your clients.

Harness advantages from both worlds

My background heading investment advisory at SCB has given me very good insights into structuring innovative solutions that we know HNIs have appetite for, and which merit place in their portfolios. As a banker-turned-IFA, one has a very good understanding on what to imbibe from the banking world and what not to. The exposure you get is great - and like everything in life, it has its pluses and minuses. If one is able to distil the pluses and avoid the minuses, you can build a wonderful career as an entrepreneur. One of the big pluses in a bank is ideation as a team - and that is a core proposition we are building into MoneyGain. MoneyGain will be an ideation platform that brings together like minded professionals, to share and exchange ideas and strategies for common good. You get to be part of a dynamic and growing team of motivated professionals, without sacrificing your independent decision making ability.

Get your baby steps right first, then think of running

MoneyGain commenced business in Feb 2017, and already has assets in excess ofRs. 650 crores. We are today 3 professionals who have come together and we expect 2 more to join us shortly. We have grand plans, but realize that we must first focus on getting our baby steps right before wanting to run. So, its more about things to do in the next 6 months, rather than creating big picture plans. Our first goal is that MoneyGainshould have 5 advisors with a combined AuM of Rs.1000 crores by March 2018 - this will be our first step towards building the platform we aim to. That's when we will look to expand and build scale aggressively. The next few months however are going to be all about ensuring that we first build a platform that is truly scalable.


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