HAVING GROOMED HIMSELF RIGHT from his college days to be man of finance and then having spent all 16 years of working life honing his skills, Anirudha Taparia had to find his career graph rising steadily, and it has. As the executive director of IIFL Wealth Management Ltd today, he is responsible for bringing growth across the company's various business verticals and geographies, his efforts having contributed remarkably to making the firm the largest in the Indian wealth management arena.
Finance in the blood
But why did he train himself to be a finance expert? In response, Taparia says, "It was a natural calling. For Marwaris, finance is not taught; it is ingrained in our blood." His claims may well be true, given Marwaris' legendary number crunching abilities and, of course, their time-honoured practice of mastering finance as an indispensable step to running an enterprise successfully. And Taparia is as true blue a Marwari as they come! "I grew up in a Marwari business family hailing from Jaswantgarh in Rajasthan," says Anirudha Taparia, acquainting us with his background. "Our family had various businesses in diverse industries, including cement, fertilisers, chemicals, construction and trading." As these businesses were based in Kota, which didn't have good schools, rather than have him follow tradition and join the family business, Taparia's elders sent him to Ajmer instead, where he schooled. After that he moved to Delhi for his graduation and then to Symbiosis Centre for Management & HRD in Pune for an MBA in finance.
Done with academics, Anirudha Taparia joined ICICI Bank in 2000, where he was part of the mortgage business team. In 2002, he moved to the Citi Group, where he worked on both the assets and the liabilities side of the business for about a decade, until the Marwari entrepreneurial bug caught up with him. With that, he joined IIFL Wealth Management Ltd in 2012.
Reminiscing, Taparia says, "I had been meeting Karan Bhagat [Karan Bhagat is the founder, MD and CEO of IIFL Wealth Management Ltd] at a few common clients' offices whilst we were pitching from our respective organisations. We struck a conversation and hit the right notes, our ideologies matched and so did our vision, and this culminated in me joining IIFL. The team at IIFL Investment at that time operated like a start-up, in both vision and action, so instead of me starting from scratch, I decided to join a moving ship."
Founded by Karan Bhagat, Yatin Shah and Amit Shah in Mumbai in 2008, IIFL Wealth Management, as the name implies, specialises in wealth management, which entails offering various services such as asset management, lending solutions, corporate advisory, estate planning, etc. Its clientele includes 10,000 high net worth (HNIs) and ultra high net worth individuals (UHNIs) from the world over, who range from business leaders to media moguls to first- generation entrepreneurs to senior-most professionals.
Wealth management involves managing the wealth of the wealthy, through the services of a wealth manager (who is backed by a team), the objective being to augment, preserve and create wealth for individuals or institutions, keeping in mind their risk appetites, financial goals, age and unique investment needs. It encompasses all kinds of financial solutions and services including financial and investment advice, accounting and tax services, retirement planning and legal or estate planning. IIFL Wealth Management specialises in all these services which are provided under one roof, without having the client running to various experts or banks for each individual service, and this gives the firm the edge it enjoys over competitors. It also offers a host of other client-centric facilities besides. The firm has eliminated distribution incentives, for example - a pro-client initiative. Further, the firm's employees own stake in the company which ensures stability to the team servicing the client, and this goes a long way in the team being seen as a reliable, trustworthy and long-standing resource by the client. In addition, the company offers a list of technology and research backed services and a wide variety of tools to help relationship managers offer quick and efficient services and the attention that clients deserve. Initiatives like launch of new technology solutions - keeping in mind the ever-increasing population of youth wealth creators - introduction of the innovative 'All-in-Fee' structure and the pioneering 'Family Office Proposition' have also helped the firm become the most trusted wealth management firm in the country. Over the years, it has won 60 reputed awards, the latest being the Asian Private Banker Award for Distinction for Best Wealth Manager - India Domestic 2017. It also is the top wealth management firm in the country with over Rs. 140,000 crore of assets under management, advice and distribution and has presence in 8 major global financial hubs and 23 locations in India and around the world, the headquarters being in Mumbai.
Why wealth management
But why have a wealth manager at all, which obviously entails a fee? Taparia explains: "The wealthy don't generally have the time or inclination to manage their money, which is spread across various asset classes such as real estate, equities, bonds, cash and fixed-income securities. A wealth manager can identify opportunities that an individual may not have known or considered. Moreover, a wealth manager is intrinsically involved in a client's portfolio and monitors his or her investments in a detailed manner to give the best possible risk-adjusted returns, without exposing the portfolio to risk."
With 18 years of experience in the financial services and consumer, commercial and private banking, Anirudha Taparia has helped IIFL Management forge strong client relationships. From the time he has joined the company, it has grown exponentially and part of this credit goes to him. So what does he attribute the firm's success to? "We value our principles as much as we value our successes," says Taparia. "We are transparent about our business and our commissions; we are responsive to our clients' changing needs; we have an unwavering commitment to the success of each portfolio; we offer specialist advice that rely on research and data; and we are thought leaders in terms of our policies and approach. These initiatives have contributed to our success."
Having come thus far, Taparia is upbeat about the future of IIFL Wealth Management, given recent developments such as the demerger announced by holding company IIFL Holdings (which owns 54% in IIFL Wealth Management) and the 'Investment Advisors Regulations 2013' issued by the Securities and Exchange Board of India's (SEBI). While the former will result in IIFL Wealth Management enlisting as a separate entity, thereby creating opportunities for future growth, the latter regulates unregistered investment advisors. Focus on growth areas like the hitherto ignored Tier II and Tier III cities should also help, as also the rising popularity and awareness of the wealth management concept.
Away from work, Taparia loves to watch movies and is an avid sportsman, who plays squash regularly or otherwise heads for the gym. He lives in New Delhi with his wife, Deepika - Deepika is a trained patisserie and chocolatier, who has interned with some of the world's top chocolatiers and patissiers and is currently a housewife and three year-old son, Kaiser, who is preparing to go to school.