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Giving trusted advice to family businesses

Article • Investment Management
Soumya Rajan
Founder, MD and CEO at Waterfield Advisors
Mar 26, 2018
   

“The first was that the solution the clients often looked for was not necessarily with the bank,” says Rajan, formerly a private banker at Standard Chartered. “Second, the entire mode of operation, in terms of the way we advised clients, inherently had a conflict of interest.”

Waterfield’s initial client segment was almost entirely made up of family-owned businesses, which she found were grappling with a number of issues, and not just on the investment side.

“Waterfield first started to advise them on investments,” she says. “But then, as we started to understand the families more, we realised that there were, essentially, gaps that the family had in legacy planning, in creating trusts, philanthropy, succession etc.”

No firm in India was addressing any of that, according to Rajan. “While financial institutions are good in trying to address the investment side of it, there was a fairly large gap in the non-investment side,” she says.

Waterfield’s remit was now set: be the trusted advisor to the families to help them both on the investment as well as the non-investment side. According to Rajan, the Waterfield model of creating a business based entirely on advisory fees is scalable in the Indian scenario where other competitors are looking at distribution.

“The fact that we’re attracting both talent and clients on a regular basis seems to suggest to me that there is a market for this particular business model,” she states.

“Ultimately, ours isn’t an annuity-based business,” she says. “So while it will take time to build, once you have crossed over that inflection point in terms of the revenues, the costs tend to plateau out in the business model.”

The foundation of the business, according to Rajan, is a marriage of trust and advice. “Our motto is ‘Insight with Integrity’, and that is something which I believe marries both the concept of advice and trust.” Rajan says that the motivation to go along this path is and will always be: doing the right thing by the client.

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Offices

142, 14th Floor, Maker Chambers VI, Nariman Point, Mumbai - 400021

SEBI Office: Plot No. C4-A, 'G' Block, Bandra-Kurla Complex, Bandra(East), Mumbai - 400051

We Work – Noida C-001/A2, Sector 16B, Noida, UP - 201301

SEBI Office: NBCC Complex, Office Tower-1, 8th Floor, Plate B, East Kidwai Nagar, New Delhi – 110023

815, 8th Floor, The Estate, Regus Business Centre, Dickenson Road, Bengaluru - 560042

SEBI Office: 2nd Floor, Jeevan Mangal Building, No.4, Residency Road, Bengaluru - 560025

Workafella No.10, Uthamar Gandhi Salai, Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakam, Chennai - 600034

SEBI Office: 7th Floor, 756-L, Anna Salai, Chennai - 600002

Centre A, 8th Floor, Alapatt Heritage Building, MG Road, Kochi - 682035

SEBI Office: 6th Floor, Finance Tower, Kaloor, Kochi - 682017