Note to readers: When it comes to money management, women have skilfully manoeuvred finances – of their families and those of investors on a larger scale. But the number of such women professional managers remains low, though. Of all registered investment advisors with SEBI (securities and exchange board of India), just about 10 percent are women. In this special five-part series, Moneycontrol personal finance profiles five women who are not only in control of their own personal finances but also guide several other women and families in managing their wealth. Yesterday we profiled Dilshad Billimoria. Today, meet Agra-based Shifali Satsangee, Owner & CEO, Funds Vedaa.
In 2002, Agra-based mutual fund distributor Shifali Satsangee’s husband, a chartered accountant, contemplated diversification. He considered getting into mutual fund distribution, after observing that there was hardly any formal wealth management landscape in and around Agra those days. He started with Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore of assets. Agra was a real estate driven market, where most investments went into traditional asset classes such as gold and fixed deposits, with little awareness about mutual funds as an investment avenue.
In 2011, Shifali got AMFI (Association of Mutual Funds of India; the mutual fund industry’s trade body) certified and founded Funds Vedaa- her own venture to distribute mutual funds with a team of eight people and a branch office in Delhi. The term ‘Vedaa’ in Sanskrit means knowledge.
Today, Shifali is one of north India’s largest mutual fund distributors – and among the largest in the country – with assets under management of Rs 460 crore and 376 clients.
The early mover advantage
“We started at a time when people weren’t really aware of mutual funds and their terminology in Agra,” says Shifali. The depth and reach of mutual funds, in Tier2 cities such as Agra were low. She credits Shyamali Basu, Senior VP and Head-Product & Marketing, HDFC Asset Management (AMC) and Navneet Batra, Zonal Head-North IDFC AMC as being her mentors in her long journey. The turning point came in 2012, when SEBI formally pushed the then-Rs 13-trillion Indian mutual fund industry to go to the hinterlands by allowing fund houses to charge an additional 30 basis points (bps) of daily net assets of the scheme, as an expense. The regulator also offered financial incentives for tapping customers from smaller towns and cities. Agra is classified under the Beyond 30 (B30) cities category in MF parlance.
Catering to wide clientele
At present, Funds Vedaa caters to both high networth individuals (HNI) and emerging income families. Shifali creates brand equity by organizing finanical wellness programs at universities, factories, rotary clubs, The Orthopaedic Society of Agra, Police training Academy and the Income Tax department since it serves the dual purpose of financial inclusion and addition of new clientele to the firm. Shifali has fond memories of her experience at the Bihar Military Police Training Centre, Patna, where she addressed 250 women police officers in an education initiative two years ago, after which she created an interactive WhatsApp group for them to get investing guidance.
Shifali understood the importance of processes early on. Aside from risk profiling her clients from the start, Funds Vedaa sends out monthly portfolio valuation reports. The firm’s aim is to connect the dots between investors and their financial goals, act as enablers in their journey to their financial destination and get them future ready financially.
She is also involved as an advisor, mentor and co-opted Unnatt, a Gurgaon-based fintech start-up technology platform. Unnatt aims to assist smaller distributors in building and sustaining their businesses by aiding them in the end-to-end management of business. The platform aims to help small-time distributors grow their businesses by taking over their back-office operations, so that the distributors can focus on selling.Shifali’s son, who is a chartered accountant (the eldest among three children), partnered with his chartered accountant friend and started a direct equity venture, Capital Vedaa (India), three months back. While Funds Vedaa continues to focus only on mutual funds, Capital Vedaa would focus on direct equity investors and edutech.