23 Jul Professor Saurabh Bajaj
Prof. Saurabh Bajaj is an Author, Mentor, Motivational Speaker and Wealth Planner. He did his MBA from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) Mumbai, one of the top 10 management institutes in India. He holds the prestigious FRM (Financial Risk Manager) degree awarded by Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP), USA. Till date, there are less than 15,000 professionals in the world, who have been honoured with this degree.
After his MBA, he joined J P Morgan, the second largest Investment Bank in the world. He has worked with J P Morgan as Risk Analyst for more than two years.
Being passionate about personal finance, he quit his lucrative job and got into mutual fund distribution business.
He had to start from absolute scratch as his job was not directly related to this field, neither could he cater to the clients of his Employer.
Today he has a clientele in 14 States of India (Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh , Telnagana, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi NCR, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Goa, Rajasthan) and 6 Countries overseas (US, UK, Rwanda, Singapore, Dubai, Saudi Arabia) in just a span of 7 years.
In a free flowing discussion, Prof Bajaj has spelt out invaluable mantras for IFAs.
1) Tell us something about your professional journey as an IFA
I had to start from absolute scratch as my job was not directly related to this field, neither could I cater to the clients of my Employer.
I decided to follow a different pathway. I started a blog called www.professorbajaj.wordpress.com in October 2009. Those days, even smartphones were not too popular, so getting clients through blog was something too far-fetched.
But I kept writing articles which grew in readership day-by-day. I deliberately didn’t write about any particular product. Rather I picked up topics which people were confused about. I follow a style slightly different from usual finance articles. I write in form a short story or in form of a dialogue between two characters. This immediately connects to the readers and answers the questions they have in mind. (With Grace of God, today the blog has a readership in more than 65 countries in the world).
Slowly I started getting queries from the readers. I didn’t force the readers to become my clients immediately. I kept resolving their doubts to the point wherein they got confident about my integrity and knowledge. This eventually got them converted into clients.
Even today, I have almost 70% clients coming from my blog. I havent met most of them face-to-face till date. These are the clients who have developed lot trust in me which is evident from the fact that they have given me referrals.
My another area of interest was public speaking. This has also helped me get lot of business. I take initiative at public forums, social organisations etc to fulfil the requirement of handling the mike. This gives me lot of visibility. After the program, people come and congratulate me for being a wonderful speaker. They also inquire about my business, and show interest to meet one-on-one.
2) Have you been able to do things differently? If yes how?
I don’t believe in cold calling or database-based-business. I don’t make a single call to a prospect to ask for an appointment.
I am slightly egoistic in that matter, you may say, but I don’t like to call up someone seeking an appointment to offer my services. I prefer it the other way round.
Today my clients / prospects seek my appointment and meet me. There are many clients, who don’t even feel the need to meet as they have developed trust in me due to other modes of communication (Blog , Emails , Phone call, social media etc)
Also, I have a clear focus that I want respect along with money.
If I only make money, and lose respect, I wont be able to sleep at night.
I have tried to develop my image as an educator in minds of my clients. In my opinion, it will help me in the long run. A Salesman image can create repulsion, whereas an Educator image creates attraction.
Apart from this, I am very fond of behavioural finance and psychology. This study allows me to get a better understanding of client mindset and help them accordingly.
3) What is your view of the advisory business in the medium to long run
In my opinion, the advisory business is here to stay. The role of advisors has evolved and will keep evolving. An advisor who was just a carrier of information is now expected to play a role of filtering the information and provide only relevant knowledge to the client.
In future, the advisors need to be a step ahead by proactively understanding the client mindset and manage his behaviour more than manage his money.
Most importantly, advisors have to start respecting themselves and their own profession before expecting respect from the client.
If a client doesn’t respect me and gives me business, I would prefer walking away from the client as he wont stay with me for long if there is no respect for me.
4) Can you give some effective guidelines for IFAs to grow their business?
Few things which an IFA can do to grow his business :
- Embrace Technology – Don’t shy away from technology. Learn it. It is going to help you upscale your business tremendously. Use Online Platforms, use Softwares, Use Social Media.
- Respect Yourself – Nobody else will respect you unless you respect yourself and your profession.
- Be Genuine – There is no substitute for quality. When you genuinely work in interest of the client, you will definitely be rewarded. Others may copy everything else from you, but cant replace the trust the client has in you.
- Be Prepared for challenges – Small IFAs often get shaken by the frequent changes happening in the industry. Don’t expect a smooth ride. Challenges are here to stay. Be strong and confident. Keep upgrading yourself.
- Network with Fellow IFAs – Ours is probably the only business where we don’t need to look at each other as competitors. Keep networking with fellow IFAs and try learning new things from each other.
- Look for Mentors – Our industry is blessed to have mentors like Dharamendra Satapathy, Kanak Kumar Jain, Brijesh Dalmia, Jigar Parekh and so on. These guys are kind enough to share lot of useful content, ideas for common good. Make use of them.