While the entire nation is gripped in the unpredictable roller coaster ride of the Sensex-Nifty, it’s shocking to see the reports that only a handful of the population in India thinks of investing in the right shares, while even lesser percentage of the mass is any better in regular savings of a small portion of their income. As the recent times continue being ruthless to those who do not have a proper strategy to manage their finances, today at The Startup Journal, we brainstorm with Mr. Gaurav Dhawan, the co-founder of Wealthapp – a Robo Financial Advisory Firm that uses its user friendly online platform for best tax saving investment and wealth management process.
Why Exactly Has Saving Been Difficult in Recent Times for the Indian Mass?
“While good quality and timely financial advice is readily available to the wealthy people, it is seldom the case with rest of the Indians. Although we would often advise people on their savings irrespective of the financial quantum they commanded, the idea of taking such advice to a larger audience in a scalable manner was always a point of deliberation.
Further, we also recognize that a large number of Indians are beginning to find it difficult to save even a minimal amount of money – and this is often not because they do not have the financial ability to save, but because of an inherent financial indiscipline that we are all so used to.”
Is there anything as such as a good financial advice?
“During the course of our careers, we have realised that our target customers typically struggle with access to high quality and timely financial advice that is relevant. At times, lack of convenience in availing such advice is a further cause of their inability to manage their money efficiently, causing more harm than gain. Our platform at WealthApp addresses these pain points. We help people ensure that their hard earned money is managed efficiently, timely and conveniently irrespective of the amounts that they may have. Moreover good counsel at the right time can actually make a huge difference.”
How is Wealthapp any different than other financial advisory apps present in the market?
“First, our algorithm-led high levels of automation in delivering timely advice. Second, we have a simplistic and convenient platform that can be used by even a non-savvy customer. Third, there’s no set bar required for a customer to avail our service, thereby allowing a larger set of people to use us. Finally, we have also developed an automated savings service – SPRINT, which helps people save so they have a starting point to put their finances in order and take the first step towards achieving their aspirations.
Moreover, our platform is currently free for the customers to use. Instead, we charge a fee to the product manufacturers (AMCs in our case so far) to compensate ourselves. We plan to come up with paid premium services in the future.”
How do you differentiate the challenges that each individual goes through?
“Well, we actually did some dip sticks with the target market to understand the challenges being faced by people in seeking out such advisory and clearly identified the pain points. Understanding those helped us lay out the cornerstones of the solution that we envisaged. These were to build access to high quality and relevant advice, deeply integrate the use of technology to build a scalable delivery model, build data frameworks to maintain context/relevance of advice, and ensure simplicity and convenience of use. Next, we identified use cases and did feasibility check by writing algorithms for each of these. Encouraged by the outcomes, we went on to build WealthApp as you see it today. A lot more needs to be done to improvise the platform and looks like it will remain work-in-progress in times to come.”
What motivated you to join the entrepreneur culture?
“I was a private banker at Citibank before co-founding my first company, Credence Family Office. With over a decade’s experience in managing client portfolios and building high net-worth client books, I’m now putting my experience to use in building WealthApp as a digital financial advisor of repute to serve the middle India. To me, entrepreneurship has always been fascinating. Not only does it provide the opportunity to create value, but also to grow as an individual and a professional. It allows you to dream, to think and to explore – and I believe all of these are very essential for us to succeed in life. Entrepreneurship teaches you to don various hats and, in the process, trains you to build perspectives on a business and everything around it. Regular employment in large organizations seldom provides you this opportunity. And that is where I found myself constrained in a job. While the ‘right’ time to start off on your own is hard to define, for me it was in the summer of 2010 that I decided to take the entrepreneurial plunge and have cherished every moment thereon.”
Who are your partners in building Wealthapp as it is today?
Subba was a founding global Partner, investment committee member and part of the leadership team in India at the $5 billion private equity firm Actis. During his stint of 16 years, a number of investments such as Daksh, Niligirs, Axis Bank Glenmark, GRO, SIFY were made in technology, financial services and FMCG sectors. He also lived and invested in North Virginia USA for 3 years.
Sanjay has close to two decades of experience in the private banking and wealth management space – a highly demanding role in which he excelled. Before establishing Credence Family Office, he held high performance roles in Citibank and JM Morgan Stanley to oversee investment advisory and relationship management for high net worth clients.
Mitesh has over a decades’ experience in private banking and has earlier held senior positions with Citibank and HSBC with a focus on developing investment strategies for HNI clients. He is the co-founder of Credence Family Office, one of the premier multi-family offices in India.”
Now, about some trade secrets…
Who are the people you’d say that you couldn’t have done without when it comes to Wealthapp?
Like I said, my co-founders Subba, Sanjay & Mitesh have always been there for all the brainstorming and field work. Apart from them, our key investors like Jayant Davar (Sandhar Technoligies), Venk Krishnan (Nuventures), MJ Aravind (ex-employee of Daksh), Vikram Kotak (Birla Sunlife) and Ramkumar Nishtala (Vistaar Finance) are the people who believed in us right from the start.
With a team size of 20+ and counting, where do you see Wealthapp in the next ten years?
Currently, the automated investment service and SPRINT are our key offerings. We offer our customers highly customized mutual fund portfolios as a means of growing their monies and achieving their financial goals.
Our roadmap is to add more services that are part of an individual’s financial life and expand our customer base across 10000+ cities in India. This will entail addition of products such as insurance, NPS and fixed deposits. Further, we are looking to add certain premium and subscription based services that can be opted-in by the customer, should their situation so demand. Deployment of deep-analytics frameworks to make our advice even more contextual is on the cards.