Religare discusses private banking and its JV with Macquarie

FinanceAsia talks to Shachindra Nath, group COO of Religare Enterprises, about the firmÆs wealth management practice and its recent acquisition of London's oldest stockbroking firm.
What prompted Religare to start offering wealth management services in India?
ReligareÆs vision is to establish itself as a fully integrated globally trusted financial care brand. We would like to be seen as the true ôinvestment gateway of Indiaö. The idea is to be versatile and an end-to-end player by catering to all possible client groups across different geographies. We recently partnered with Macquarie to form a joint venture, Religare Macquarie Private Wealth, in which we are equal partners.

Overall, India is growing and so is the number of mass affluent people and high-net-worth-individuals. We believe there are limited options currently being offered to these people for managing and growing their wealth in a proactive and holistic fashion vis-a-vis their counterparts across the globe.

How many people does your private banking practice have and what is your typical client profile?
We are currently around 130 people. We focus on HNWIs and ultra-HNWIs which includes professionals, people who are self employed, as well as industrialists. We even manage the portfolios of some local celebrities.

What are your assets under management?
We are a young practice and currently manage approximately Rs4 billion ($100 million). But this number is growing quickly.

What is your competitive advantage vis-a-vis other global wealth management firms opening in the country and global players enhancing their focus on India?
We offer a unique and one-of-a-kind blend of ReligareÆs local knowledge, insights and execution capabilities coupled with the proven global expertise of Macquarie û especially with respect to structured products.

You recently acquired London-based stockbroking firm Hichens Harrisons. What is the strategy underlying the acquisition?
The move will allow Religare to create an international distribution network for our domestic institutional business. It will provide us the opportunity to service the needs of Indian corporates through HichensÆ global network and provide our clients who are small and medium Indian companies with access to capital. We intend to use the acquisition to create a global distribution and execution platform within emerging countries and to help the group emerge as a global player in the financial services market.

We see a strong fit between the two companies, both culturally and strategically, and our businesses are complementary.

What advice are you currently offering your clients, given how volatile markets have been?
We believe in offering a holistic investment platter backed by scientific and process-driven asset allocation strategies. However, with respect to direct equities, our stance now is to tell investors to focus on fundamentals and not short-term gains.
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