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Interview: Fintso Co-founder George Mitra says, “Wealth management has traditionally been a high touch model”

Today, we speak to George Mitra, Co-founder & CEO of Fintso, to understand how Fintso works and how it is helping independent financial advisors to engage their clients through its service.

TechGraph (TG)Before we start the interview, can you let our audience know more about your role in Fintso? 

George Mitra: Sure, Rajan Pathak is Co-Founder and MD at Fintso. His roles include directly oversees business development, operations & services, finance, legal & compliance. 

Whereas, George is a Co-Founder and CEO who looks after the tech development, products & advisory, marketing, and investor relations. Having more than 25+ years of domain experience and having led large organizations, we collaborate on a lot of the activities.

TechGraph: What is Fintso, and why is it different from other service providers who are already in this sector?

George: Fintso is a Platform-as-a-Service to equip independent financial advisors and distributors to service and engage their clients better by offering them Value Add services, solution sets, and a wider product offering. 

The aim is to help them grow their business by letting them focus on their core activities while taking care of Front-end touchpoints, Mid-Office Advisory, and Back-end Processing. 

These advisors are the backbone of the wealth industry in India and are helping the vast majority of investors access financial markets. 

Equipping them digitally, will help in a better outreach, as well as provide some of the best in class services that were limited to the UHNIs for so long – especially on Portfolio analytics and advisory.

Fintso is a Solutions provider, rather than a Service provider. The team has been in the wealth industry for over two decades, and we intrinsically understand the different needs of the players in the eco-system – Clients, Advisors & Product Manufacturers. It gives us an edge to create the framework and the processes, take the best of our learnings, and translate them for technology to replicate. 

The BFSI space, and traditional wealth management in general, in India, has not kept up with the developments in technology that others have embraced. 

The core team that we have been able to get together, especially in technology, is helping us translate and execute on our core idea – To use Fintech to provide holistic solutions to everyone.

TechGraph: What was the idea behind the launch of Fintso and how it all got started?

George: The main thesis behind Fintso is the fact that the Indian market is extremely fragmented – needs (Retail / Affluent / HNI etc), Geography and Advisors (Tax, Investment, Insurance). Given the low financial awareness that the majority of people have, there is a “Bridge of Trust” that is required to help people invest beyond traditional avenues. 

This Bridge has long been the “Neighbourhood Advisor” who knows the family for long, and who has been servicing part of the needs. They are entrepreneurs, building out their business based on trust, accessibility, and the most important continuity.

The ‘organized’ wealth players suffer from a “churn” of relationship managers, and high-cost structures make them “sellers” rather than advisors usually. As a result, we have over 70% of the market in India being taken care of by independent players. 

For these entrepreneurs to embrace technology, to keep up with the market changes, to be able to upgrade on services, is a constant endeavor – but not financially feasible – to do on their own, given the high costs of accessing a true state of the art system.

This is what Fintso is setting out to do: equip independent players to remain in business with a sharper proposition, and use the power of many to serve their clients better, without taking over their identity.

TechGraph: While researching on Fintso our editorial team stumbled upon that there are different products available on the platform. Can you explain more about them to our readers?

George: One of the issues that exist is the fact that organized players access newer products, better suited for clients, faster than the IFAs can. Not because they are not willing, or that their clients do not need, but sometimes simply because the manufacturers are not willing or able to connect with the large number. Simply put, it’s usually not ‘worth their while” to do KYC and enter into agreements with so many people.

Given that we have done KYC for each of them, and can enable KYC and product suitability, we can work on Omnibus arrangements. This allows us to access and provide access to a much wider product basket for the IFAs. 

We can also integrate each of these products into the overall portfolio for reporting and monitoring purposes. Effectively, what we wanted to do was to help democratize wealth products.

TechGraph: As the entire country is in lockdown and many of the peoples are struggling to manage their money. What advice would you like to give them as a financial advisor?

George: In times of stress and volatility, it is all the more important to stay close to clients. To monitor their portfolios, to look for stress, but most importantly, to help them refresh their financial goals. An increase in communication, and how that communication takes place, becomes more important. 

Information overload leads to it becoming noisy – converting the same into relevant actionable insights through analysis and making customized communications would be the key for advisors.

TechGraph: Where does Fintso stand in terms of capital under management?

George: Fintso enables advisors to manage the investments of their clients more effectively.

TechGraph: Leading the sector from the front, what according to you is one of the biggest pain points of financial advisors that need to be addressed?

George: Wealth management has traditionally been a high touch model – depending on face-to-face interactions to make stronger the Bridge of Trust. With the new reality of low-touch becoming the norm, how to effectively use digital technology to not only execute, but also use effectively to communicate with their clients, is the biggest issue that we address. To effectively harness technology to showcase to their clients that their interests continue to be at the forefront for the advisors, and provide the advisors with the tools to do so.

TechGraph: What is the roadmap for Fintso’s going forward?

George: Fintso will continue to widen the solution sets that advisors can use by innovating and addressing the needs that are being articulated by advisors. 

E.g.: Need to have data privacy, and security was articulated by all end users. Fintso designed its system architecture to address this from the ground up, giving a level of privacy that uses the latest cryptography and tools available.

We also continue to interact with product manufacturers and seek products that fit in with client requirements and portfolios. The aim is to enable advisors to be equipped for what their clients may need, be it ways to reduce risk/volatility on their portfolios, to reduce costs.

We are also working towards lowering operating costs for advisors – and enabling them to effectively reduce their physical footprint while enhancing their outreach.

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