Mr. Dependable : Advisor Insights
Walking the talk is what makes Rajesh Chheda "Mr.Dependable"
Rajesh Chheda, Finance Factory, Panjim, Goa

imgbd What makes an investor choose an advisor or a money manager and stick with him through the rollercoaster ride that markets take him on? What begets trust in the eyes of an investor? A simple one word answer : dependability. Mr.Dependable - a joint initiative between Religare Invesco and Wealth Forum - aims to help you explore all the dimensions of what it takes to be seen by investors as Mr.Dependable, and thus build your financial advisory practice on a robust foundation of trust. After all, dependability is finally what money management is all about.

In the Advisor Insights series of Mr.Dependable, we profile advisors who embody the spirit of Mr.Dependable. Advisors who are sharply focused on the 4 pillars of dependability - consistency, integrity, responsiveness and diligence - and who have built their practices based on trust earned through being dependable.

In this article, Rajesh Chheda of Finance Factory - one of Goa's most successful and most respected advisors, shares his insights on what the 4 pillars of dependability mean to him. What comes through clearly from his thoughts is that it is his ability to "walk the talk" that really sets him apart and makes him a trust-worthy and dependable advisor to his clients.

Consistency: Consistency for me means core principles are non-negotiable and will always remain constant, even as everything around evolves, as it should. This is my 25th year in this profession - that's consistency for me. I started out in this profession when the Sensex was 1000, I've seen all its ups and downs and today, when its at 28000, I'm still in the same profession of personal financial advice. Over this 25 year journey, my business evolved from chartered accountancy to broking to mutual funds to financial planning and now, I am a SEBI registered Investment Advisor (RIA). The core - helping clients achieve their personal financial objectives - has remained unchanged. The core - of being absolutely client focused - has remained unchanged. The business model has evolved, with the evolution of the market place and with evolving client needs and expectations. It is this consistency of adhering to core principles, I think, which has enabled me to be in a position today where I can say that I have the privilege of being the advisor to three generations of my client families - grandfather, father and son.

Integrity: Integrity for me is simply summed up in 3 words - "Walk the Talk". When I chose RIA as my business model, I went the whole hog. An RIA is supposed to derive income only from clients for his impartial advice and is not supposed to earn product commissions, which might otherwise influence his advice. That's the spirit of the regulation. I know many RIAs have opted to transfer their distribution business to their spouse or family members, to keep that income stream within the family, even as they personally become RIAs. I chose not to do this. I took a significant hit in my income as a consequence, because fee income initially will always be lower than trail built up on existing assets. But for me, its important to walk the talk. If I am holding out to investors that I am an RIA who is only looking at client interests and who only gets compensated by clients, I need to ensure that I am indeed doing just that.

Likewise, when I talk to clients about the merit of staying invested for the long term and avoid needless profit taking and reinvesting, I don't just tell them - I show them my own investment in an ELSS scheme which has remained there for over 12 years - and I show them how, by simply staying invested, I look like a pretty smart investor now, as the initial investment has grown 19 times, giving a 26.5% CAGR.

When I tell my clients that I do not believe in needless churn as a way to demonstrate value add to clients, I show them statements of my clients (with the name and address blanked out) which show investments held for over 10 and 15 years.

If you come to my office, you will not find a single fund poster anywhere. AMC sales persons know that I will put all fund promotional material and contest material straight into the shredder - so they have now stopped giving us such material.

I believe qualifications are important - I am a CA and a CFP and now an RIA - but beyond qualifications, its your ability to walk the talk that inspires client confidence in you. I have some AMC people as my clients - that tells me I am on the right track. When I see competition respecting me and referring clients to me, that tells me I am on the right track.

Responsiveness: There is a simple rule in my office - our client service process does not change - irrespective of how big or small the client is. The times when clients really need us most is when there is bad news - when its time to make claims on insurance policies taken. We go all out in our efforts to help clients with claims processing and settlements. I remember, when a client's wife was diagnosed with cancer, I was there by his side, helping get a second opinion. These are times when emotional support is what clients require more than financial advice.

Diligence: Diligence to me not only means doing your best and putting in a sincere effort, but equally, having the humility to recognize what you are good at and what can be better outsourced to get the best results for your clients. As an RIA, I have outsourced operations to a platform - Ifast - because I believe they do a better job in operations than I can. We are now living in an era of compliance - accordingly, all of us in our office are undergoing weekly training on compliance aspects of the advisory role that we have taken on. I have invested in a CRM software - because I believe this will help us serve our clients more effectively. The end outcome has to be clear - the best advice and highest level of service for our clients. If that outcome is clear, diligence is about marshalling all resources - within the firm or externally - to deliver this to our clients.

All content in Mr.Dependable is created by Wealth Forum and should not be construed as views of Religare Invesco MF.

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