Career Focus

Career Focus

Bright future for wealth managers

Unprecedented prosperity in middle class India has stoked demand for wealth management services. This high adrenaline career is attracting a swelling number of B-school graduates in particular

ith the economy booming,
stock and real estate prices rising, salaries hitting the roof, the wealth and disposable incomes of several million Indians have grown substantially during the past two decades. The unprecedented prosperity of middle class India has stoked demand for wealth management services, which were hitherto the preserve of elite foreign banks. As a consequence wealth management has emerged as a high adrenaline and well rewarding career option for the swelling number of India’s university graduates, particularly of its 950-plus business schools.

According to the World Wealth Report 2005, published by Cap Gemini & Merrill Lynch, the number of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) in India grew by 14.6 percent, twice the global average of 7.3 percent, in 2004. Future growth in this segment is forecast at almost 20 percent annually during the next quinquennium.

Contemporary wealth managers provide ‘cradle to grave’ financial services. The services provided normally comprise investment under assets such as equity, mutual funds, debt, insurance and specialised services such as estate management besides tax advisory, succession planning etc.

To land a job as a wealth manager in a bank or financial services firm, you need to be an MBA (finance) from a reputed management institute or a postgraduate in economics. To accelerate your promotion you could enroll for a CFA (chartered financial analyst) programme. This programme is offered by the Hyderabad-based ICFAI (Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India), by way of distance education or classroom courses. It covers corporate finance, financial services and investment management. Similar programmes are also offered by reputable B-schools including the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai; SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai; International Management Institute, New Delhi; BITS, Pilani and Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneshwar, among others.

With the demand for qualified wealth management professionals far outstripping supply, there is unlimited scope for professional advancement in this field. Private banks including HDFC, ICICI, foreign banks like ABN Amro, CitiGold Wealth Management, Citibank, Deutsch Bank, B.N. Paribas, HSBC, Barclays and Societe General which have established private banking operations in India, and investment firms such as DSP Merrill Lynch, Kotak Securities, Anand Rathi Investments, and J.M. Morgan Stanley, are the preferred employers of aspirant wealth managers. Other big employers are stand-alone wealth management firms which offer a full range of services — investment advice, portfolio management, taxation advice et al; mutual fund companies, asset management and insurance corporates.

For professionally qualified wealth managers, the pay is good ab initio. Starting pay is around Rs.4-5 lakh per year, which could rise to more than Rs.1 crore within a decade as senior wealth managers manage portfolios of Rs.400-500 crore each.

"Until a few years ago investors didn’t think beyond investing in government securities, fixed deposits and new equity issues. Today, the market is complicated and more people are opting for wealth management advice. Corporate professionals are emerging as our major customers since a growing number of IT companies, banks etc give stock options to employees running into millions of rupees. Hitherto wealth management was restricted to people with Rs. 2-3 crore to invest. Now even people with Rs.20-30 lakh hire wealth managers paying fees of Rs.40,000-200,000 per year. Wealth management is evolving in India, which is a healthy sign," says Ashish Somaiya, the Mumbai-based associate vice-president and head, retail sales and distribution of Prudential ICICI Asset Management Co Ltd, which manages an aggregate portfolio of over Rs.35,000 crore for 2 million clients in India.

A chemical engineering graduate of the Maharashtra Institute of Technology (affiliated with Pune University) and an MBA (finance) from the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai, Somaiya signed up as a management trainee with Prudential ICICI Asset Management. The company which started in 1998 with eight centres now has 68 centres countrywide.

Somaiya, who manages the Bombay operations of the company which contributes 40 percent of the company’s business, says that for wealth managers the canvas is getting broader. "Now, we are free to also invest in commodities, real estate, gold, silver etc. Soon Indians will be allowed to invest abroad in a host of countries. So managing wealth will become more complicated and the demand for wealth managers will zoom."

Aware of the huge possibilities in this newly discovered field, Somaiya is gearing to promote his own one-stop shop offering wealth management services. With India poised, be believes there’s room for many more asset management companies.

Indra Gidwani (Mumbai)