My tryst with entrepreneurship started at a very young age, my first earning was by selling mobile software to kids in my school days.
My father got few shares of the bank in which he was working and I got a little interested and curious about equity markets. I could identify a liking for investing and trading in stock markets. The seeds for something which will become my passion in the later years were being planted by my father. I wanted to start something but did not know where to start and how to start. I decided to learn about stock markets from which ever source I could find, books, TV channels, speaking to people who have been doing etc. Now the challenge was how to start something on my own.
It was during my graduation days, when I made my first attempt of doing a business related to stock markets. I started a yahoo group and started posting stock recommendations on it. Slowly but steadily I could build a huge group of people for sharing information and knowledge on stock markets. The next target was to think of a revenue model. I started a paid service for stock tips, which to even my surprise became a big hit. I was making money, a descent amount, nothing fancy. But my idea was to create a company, an enterprise which is valued for its services. So I started to play with this idea of forming a company, Marwah Financial. Just the thought of creating an entity which will help people make money, which will help me make money create a name, contribute to the industry was exciting enough. I started the company in a small room of my apartment, bought sum furniture, hired an employee (my first employee), a telephone, set up the website and here I was on my way to start my dream, Marwah Financial. All was very special my first employee, first telephone in my name, my website, brochures etc. Alongside my graduation, to gain knowledge of various financial products and procedures, I did many certifications in equity markets, mutual funds, debt markets, derivatives, financial advisory etc.
I have always believed that Success is often achieved when the person is able to go further than most people, breaking limitations imposed by their own economic, physical and physiological boundaries. This was a tough time; I had to generate the money to sustain the business without having to ask anything from my family.
I was able to make a base for my company scrolling through the struggles and challenges any new business offers. For close to six months, I operated from my home. I was young, inexperienced but motivated to make it a success. I could build a small base of clients. I knew in order to make it to the next level and build credibility; I need to have my own office. I rented a commercial office hired a couple of more employees and took the second big step. This was also the time the whole world was going through the financial crisis of 2008. Stock markets dwindled, people started to lose faith in the equity markets along with the lifelong savings. I could see many small time brokerage firms shut down and started something else. Deep down me knew if I could sustain now I will make it to the final line. I stuck it out. I worked hard on my personality, my communication, my knowledge everything I could.
The last decade saw a splurge of companies in the financial services industry. The companies hired fancy MBA’s gave them bulge salaries and asked them to sell. Sell right left and centre. And the educated future of our country forgot that an integral part of the “Financial Service” Industry is Service/Advisory and not just selling. The differentiating line between a FMCG product and a Financial Product got blurred. The selling mentality and the stock market crash of 2008 was enough to drive retail investors from the financial services industry.
I believe another key determent for any entrepreneur is the ability to look at a circumstance, product or service differently from others and come up with a novel idea. I could sense that all this competition, stress on selling and volatile equity markets, that the next decade will be of financial planning and wealth management rather than setting up distributor network and just selling financial products like FMCG products. I started to tweak the business ideology of myself, my employees and my organization. I started to focus on financial planning, wealth management, understanding the client requirement and giving him a solution which will help him/her in achieving their goals.
It does not require rocket science to understand that with the growing number of professionals in India getting six-seven figure salaries will needs prudent financial advisors to help them manage their money and financial goals.
On my way all along in the last 1- 2years, I have met likeminded people, made them stakeholders in my organization, and opened my first owned office. I have travelled a small journey from having interest in financial markets to setting up an organization with professionals, infrastructure and knowledge, setting up partnerships with multinational companies and having a vision of what I want to achieve in the next 30-40 years of my working career.
Today Marwah Financial is a customer focused financial services firm. The portfolio of services offered by Marwah financial range from Advisory Broking, Wealth Management & Financial Planning Services. The core team and the affiliates consist of people having relevant financial qualifications and experience with renowned organizations in the finance & investment sector.
In India when somebody asks you – what do you do, expecting all conventional answers – I am doing a MBA or I am preparing for IIT’s or I am a software engineer. When people asked me, my answer was/is – I own a financial service firm or I am an entrepreneur, which more often than not, raised an eyebrow or two. When my relative from western countries comes to India, they get all excited to see me running the whole business at such a young age, where as people in India are still more accustomed to conventional careers MBA, engineers, doctors etc. I hope one day when a kid says I want to be an entrepreneur and the people say – that’s wonderful kid what do you want to create...
I have always believed in one thing, when you want something right from the core of your heart, “the whole universe conspires for you”.Believe in your idea and in your dream. There is nothing more satisfying in the world to see your idea, your dream become a reality.
The Article was originally written for yourstory.in (May 2011)
Really Inspiring story. Glad to gauge your aspirations & intentions. I too strongly advocate the philosophy of Wealth Advisory and totally endorse and relate to your comment "And the educated future of our country forgot that an integral part of the “Financial Service” Industry is Service/Advisory and not just selling".
Can very well relate to where you are coming from. This itself shows you will go a long way & will always protect your investors......unlike the general practice of chipkaoing financial services and products to investors.
Unfortunately very few(brokers/wealth managers/ RMs) differentiate between "Financial Planning & Advisory" and Selling left right centre without knowing the product itself, as for most of them justifying their presence & bottomline comes before client satisfation. Frankly for me the client comes first & thats the reason why I thought of venturing into my own Advisory firm as none of my past employers and other brokerage GIANTS believed in what I strongly believed or advocated.
Finally.... I have come out of my comfort zone by leaving my job & have also just taken a small step towards becoming an Entrepreneur. Like yours, I too intent to start my niche financial advisory firm soon. Infact I am happy being "small and niche"
inspiring.. and an eye opener for the present Indian society..