Guiding Generations to the Path to Prosperity
The Co-Founder of IIFL Wealth Management, Mr. Karan Bhagat possesses a rich experience of over 16 years in Financial Advisory, and leads a team of professionals who manage the wealth of leading families in India as well as select global hubs and provide a cumulative solution to all finance-related queries
“My key advice to upcoming leaders is that you need to be self-confident exude positive body language and communicate clearly, passionately and effectively; … and learn to deal
Managing finance for some of the wealthiest individuals and families in the HNI and Ultra HNI segment possessing numerous assets, Mr. Bhagat gained deep insight and has never shied away to pass it down to his team. His substantial experience– in various aspects of Finance like asset management, mutual funds, investment advisory, seed funding, equity management, corporate advisory, investment banking and wealth- structuring solutions –teams up well with his leadership skills and enables him to efficaciously spearhead his team
towards achieving their mission in the most desirable manner.
Steady Endeavours to Success
Rising up the ladder of success with each sturdy step was not a cakewalk for Mr. Bhagat but nevertheless he unrelentingly pursued the path by defying all odds owing to his sheer determination and self-belief. As he puts it, “I had set up my owntravel agency while simultaneously doing my studies. After completing my MBA in Finance from IIM, Bangalore in 2001, I received an offer from a consulting firm in Barcelona. But it had to be revoked in the light of the World Trade Centre crash. I thought to utilize that time in a constructive manner and took to teaching English and Maths to MBA aspirants.” He adds, “After joining Kotak Mahindra Bank in their Delhi branch in 2001, I rose to head the bank’s wealth management practice for Mumbai by 2007. The beginnings of the dream to start out on my own were seeded in mid-2007. It was in April 2008 that seven of us, including Yatin Shah and Amit Shah, decided to start on our own. But instead of going all out on our own, we decided to pursue a path of professional entrepreneurship.
We approached Nirmal Jain, Founder and Chairman, IIFL Holdings Ltd, and were given the responsibility of setting up IIFL Wealth as a unit of the IIFL group. We have now established ourselves as one of the leading investment management companies in India in less than a decade.”
Creating Opportunity out of Adversity
For a resilient person, every adversity, challenge, trial, obstacle, or problem is an opportunity for greatness and a problem is usually perceived by him as an opportunity to introduce an innovative solution to it. Talking about the challenging times and their enriching effects on him in terms of the experiences gained and the lessons learnt, Mr. Bhagat states, “We started in 2008 amidst the global financial meltdown and it was no less than a trial by fire. We remained modest and grew in a systematic manner. The period before 2008, when the global financial crisis occurred, whatever a wealth manager did, he made money. Private bankers started taking credit of great returns on themselves rather than admitting that it was a function of the market. Wealth management became a distribution market, almost like broking, where healthy commissions were easy to make by selling products.”
He further adds, “The scenario was gloomy the world over following the economic meltdown across asset classes. As someone who has had failure and adverse circumstances as my starting points, life has moulded me to be unafraid and undaunted in business. Having worked in the industry for a good amount of time, we knew the service and the gaps of most banking players in the game. The realisation that as good advisors, we needed to take care of a client’s multifarious needs and not merely sell financial products, got us headed in a direction that seemed to work. We saw that there was a gap for a consolidated balance sheet, more effective tracking and monitoring of investments. It was only obvious that good advisors should do all of this, not just sell products.”
Revealing that perseverance had been his key to success in adversity, he says, “Our entrepreneurial journey coincided with the 2008 turmoil in financial markets. A simple advice that came my way – not to wait for the global situation to improve but rather tread the chosen path with renewed vigour and remain patient about the milestones we had set – has made all the difference.”
Innovating His Way to the Top
Being an innate trendsetter, Mr. Bhagat has always promoted innovation and has charted his own trajectories of success. As he elaborates, “We built a strong advisory practice as opposed to a prevalent commission-based model in the industry. IIFL Investment Managers began in 2008, at a time when the market was a volatile place to be in. The setting up of the wealth division for IIFL was of a professional entrepreneurship where interests of all the stakeholders were aligned. Our employees own around 21 pc stake in the company and function with an entrepreneurial mindset in a vibrant eco-system. This in turn kept us aligned to the long-term interest of the clients. When every other organization was cutting corners, we found it to be the best time to hire quality people and acquire companies which were complementary to the business.” He adds, “Our assets under management, advice and distribution jumped 38.81% in the last one year and stands at Rs1317.62 billion (as on 31st March 2018), making us one of India’s largest private wealth management firm in terms of assets under advice and management.”
Finally, he declares with pride, “We started off with pure wealth advisory and management services and have metamorphosed into one of the largest wealth management companies offering Wealth Management, Asset Management, Credit Solutions, Estate Planning and Corporate Finance.”
A Rock Solid Support System
The adage ‘Behind every successful man there is a woman’ holds true for Mr. Bhagat, who is all praise for his wife for her continual support. He declares elatedly, “My family has always been supportive of my entrepreneurial pursuits. My biggest inspiration lies in my family – my wife, Shilpa has always stood beside me in thick and thin. She has been a pillar of support throughout my life and urged me to quit my stable job at Kotak where I headed the bank’s wealth management practice and start my own venture. I am grateful for her support and she takes the entire credit for meticulously nurturing the entire family as one with love, care, respect, patience and endurance. I am also inspired by my kids; children can teach you how to balance life between work and play.”
Mr. Bhagat has been recognized for his exceptional achievements in the finance sector through various awards and recognitions. He has received ‘Best Wealth Management Thought Leader’ at India Wealth Awards 2018 and Hubbis Indian Wealth Management Award for Excellence 2017. In 2017, he was also featured in the prestigious ‘40 under 40’
list of The Economic Times & a leading international magazine where India Inc.’s leading young business leaders were recognised. Under his leadership, the company has received ‘The Best Family Office Services, India’ and ‘The Best Succession Planning Advice and Trust, India’ Awards by Euromoney Private Banking and Wealth Management Survey, 2018 besides 80 other awards of repute since 2008.
Giving Back to the Society
Keen on supporting social welfare through promotion of education and sports, Mr. Bhagat asserts, “My wife and I are particularly keen on ensuring child welfare, for which we support the cause of education among underprivileged children through the Yasham Foundation. The foundation aids children in understanding school curriculum better by means of remedial teaching, audio-visuals and reinforcements.” He also believes that “sports should
be given importance” & says, “We took a conscious decision to adopt sports as part of our CSR activity and to promote National and Olympic sports in the country under the banner of ‘EKA’.”