Hubbis Award for Excellence in Indian Wealth Management: Anshu Kapoor, Head of Edelweiss Private Wealth Management
Edelweiss Private Wealth Management is the third recipient of the coveted Hubbis Indian Wealth Management - Award for Excellence. Anshu Kapoor, the firm’s head of private wealth management, recently met with Hubbis to expound what he believes is a unique proposition for the dynamic and rapidly expanding Indian wealth management sector.
Edelweiss Private Wealth Management (Edelweiss) is today a leader in the Indian wealth management market, Kapoor admits that the firm at first struggled to find its identity in the two or three years after it was founded in 2010. But, once Kapoor and the team he assembled had identified both its strategy and key characteristics, Edelweiss began growing apace and assets under management (AUM) now stand at USD14 billion.
As if the USD14 billion figure were not impressive enough for Indian’s relatively youthful wealth management market, Kapoor reports that since 2016 AUM has mushroomed by more than 60% from around USD8 billion. Moreover, the AUM figure continues to grow swiftly.
Edelweiss is clearly one of the fastest growing wealth management firms in India, focusing its broad range of services and products on the country’s growing ranks of entrepreneurs, business owners, family offices, corporate leaders and corporate treasuries.
Winning formula forged from early adversity
Edelweiss’ winning strategy, forged out of adversity during its formative years, has been to nurture and adhere to the credo the firm advocates of ‘Ideas create, values protect’ in order to build its most trusted adviser relationships with the firm’s clients.
“The client is at the heart of our being,” says Kapoor. “The relationship is grounded in understanding their priorities via a structured process and to develop customised in-house and third-party solutions through our product platform. We recommend only those solutions that are entirely appropriate for the client, having made the effort to fully understand the client’s hopes and expectations.”
Once Kapoor and his team had identified its key strengths and strategies, great effort was made to fine-tune the platform and to fine-tune the client experience and the product solutions.
Kapoor explains that today, acknowledgement by clients and industry talent is the powerful reinforcement that he and his team at Edelweiss are on the right track.
Clients as well as wealth management talent warm to Edelweiss
"In the early years, clients would question why they should deal with us and potential hires would question why they should bring their talents to our firm," he recalls. “But we broke through these barriers and both we and our clients are now reaping the rewards. The next phase of expansion is all about scaling up, while also retaining our personalised approach and character.”
Kapoor estimates the high net worth (HNW) and the ultra-HNW population of India will balloon from about 150,000 to around 500,000 individuals by 2025, while India’s GDP is expected to double to about $5 trillion.
But he notes that the top three wealth managers in India only control assets equivalent to about 2% of India's GDP, whereas for China the equivalent figure is already around 6% and for the US a lofty 40%.
A world of opportunity
“By every measure market growth is clearly going to be dramatic,” he says, “and clearly our greatest challenge and our greatest opportunity is to participate in as much of that growth as possible. But we must do so whilst retaining our focus on the individual client needs and our highly personalised approach to this business.”
With India in such a fertile phase of economic and personal wealth expansion, Kapoor knows that a key constraint on Edelweiss’ growth is the ability to bring in additional talent and expertise to its ranks.
“By our estimates, the top 10 wealth managers in this country have not yet reached more than about 25,000 of the current 150,000 customers and those customer numbers, as I mentioned, are growing very fast,” he reports. “The key challenge for us now is how do we manage to scale up and still personalise our solutions when we will have dramatically more clients.”
Three priorities for continued success
Bringing in new talent to the firm is, therefore, the biggest priority for Kapoor. “Where we are now and where we have come from is irrelevant,” he observes. “Where we are going is the key. We constantly seek the skills that our customers need, whether that is structuring, taxation, credit, family office expertise, prop trading, fixed income and so forth. We are ceaselessly hunting out talent as well as building talent within the firm.”
Kapoor has previously told Hubbis that he believes diversity is a key goal in building a winning team of exceptionally talented professionals. “We have a very intensive hiring procedure that focuses on creative thinkers and builders,” he explains, “and when with us we then focus heavily on further building their skills and personal abilities. An organisational culture based on a philosophy of collaboration between the individuals and different departments plays a vital role in the success of the team.”
Giving an example of such a collaborative effort, Kapoor says that at the launch of the company’s Delhi office, the top advisers from the Mumbai office would fly there every week to help convert clients and solve any issues, and without any expectation of a share in revenue.
Innovation and creativity
A second priority is the proposition on offer. “Product innovation is a major priority,” Kapoor explains. “How can we provide clients with access to solutions which are not only unique but add a lot of value to their portfolios? Product innovation and the management of those are essential priorities.”
Kapoor knows that despite the firm’s rapid expansion and success, humility is essential. “We recognise that we need to keep learning to be better and improve in areas where competitors might be better than us, or from companies outside our sphere, such as Google, Apple, Amazon, Cognizant and so forth. We are continually in search for ideas or processes that we can adapt to our market. It is in our firm’s DNA to be open to new products, concepts and practices.”
Kapoor says the firms always aims to be innovative, for example by offering the first capital-protected structure on an actively traded equity portfolio and being one of the first firms to give clients access to infrastructure assets, pre-IPO opportunities, and distressed assets.
“The Indian wealth market is increasingly sophisticated and also ever more receptive to new asset classes and structures,” he notes, “with these developments having also been encouraged by gradual liberalisation from the regulators.”
Keeping it simple
The third priority is the simplification of the client experience. “Simplification also includes intuitiveness, intelligence, making a more seamless interplay between technology and between what we offer to the customer.”
All these priorities exist within an overriding focus on customer satisfaction. An independent team within Edelweiss is, for example, responsible for engaging with customers to collect their feedback.
“We listen carefully, and we focus on their requirements and any areas we must address in the way we service those needs,” Kapoor reports. “Our client satisfaction scores are recently up from seventy-eight per cent to ninety-two per cent. The result is that we have very strong retention rates for both our clients.”
Satisfaction results in trust
Kapoor reports that around USD7 billion of the total USD14 billion AUM the firm currently boasts comes from the top 125 clients. “This clearly highlights the trust these HNW and ultra-HNW clients place in us,” he says.
Edelweiss also continues to broaden and further professionalise its skills, for example, the firm now has a Chief Digital Officer, a Chief Risk Officer, a Head of Learning and Development and a Head of Investment Advisory.
“Technology will play an increasingly important role in the company’s growth,” Kapoor comments, “so we have also been investing heavily in building our digital expertise to improve efficiency and the client experience. We have been working with IBM, Salesforce and Infosys to develop a customer relationship management toolset, financial advisory tools and a client reporting platform.”
One area that Kapoor would like to see improved in India is greater regulation on who can become a financial adviser. “We believe the bar should be higher from a regulatory perspective,” he states. “Moreover, we would like to see a more accurate and more flexible definition of a qualified investor that better recognises the scale of HNW and UHNW wealth today, allowing greater room for product creation and innovation.”
India’s wealth market, and the clients continue to mature
Kapoor comments that he remains fully energised by the creativity and drive of the clients he works with. “What drives me is the creation of ideas and solutions,” he says. “India is not in preservation mode, it is in full-on growth mode, driving towards a better and wealthier tomorrow. It is exciting.”
But he also notes that the HNW and UHNW segments of India’s vast population will increasingly give back to the nation. “We are in fact already seeing more structured philanthropy,” he reports. “The culture of giving is actually very ingrained in the Indian psyche, but it has never been so visible. You will see platforms emerging over the next five years only for philanthropy and it is already happening.”
Kapoor concludes by reiterating his vision of wealth management. “Some see this as all about providing investment solutions, but I see wealth management as helping clients achieve their dreams, that is my passion and that is why I am in this business.”
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