Waterfield expands as Indians warm to family offices

By Joe Marsh, special to Fund Selector Asia

Added 21st August 2015

Mumbai-based multi-family office Waterfield Advisors appointed its first head of investment solutions last month amid growing demand from wealthy Indian clients.

Waterfield expands as Indians warm to family offices

Rohit Karkera will oversee investments in the listed space, including equities, bonds, mutual funds and managed accounts. He reports to Munish Randev, chief investment officer. Karkera was previously senior manager of investment research at India-based Axis Bank.

Waterfield now has 20 staff and expects to bring in four more by March. It services 36 families, up from 31 in November. Randev believes his firm will exceed $1bn in assets under advisory by the end of the fiscal year in March, though he declined to disclose current AUA.

Wealth per adult in India increased roughly 200% (at constant exchange rates) from 2000-2014, slightly exceeding China’s growth rate, according to the 2014 report on global wealth from Credit Suisse. The report estimates that currently 2.4 million people in India have net worth over $100,000.

The concept of the family office in India is relatively new. There are no official figures on FOs, but Randev believes their numbers are increasing. He said big fund distribution houses are under pressure to set up units servicing family office platforms.

Families are becoming more inclined to pay fees to such entities for advice (as opposed to merely paying commission for products), said Randev. He points out that Waterfield recently won two large family clients that previously had never paid fees for investment advice.

When it comes to running foreign portfolios, the firm prefers to work with offshore FOs to understand how they manage European equities, rather than employ fund houses. Foreign FOs typically share their expertise and Waterfield may provide client referrals, he said. Other FOs may also want advice on investments in India.

Continuing its expansion, the firm expects to open an office in November in Bangalore to service the fast-growing technology entrepreneur segment.

The new branch will add to those in Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai.

In two other recent hires, Medha Ajgaonkar, who previously advised UHNW families on investments at Standard Chartered Private Banking, has been named director of family office services.

For the role of assistant VP on the corporate advisory team, Maulik Bagadia was brought over from Deutsche Bank. 

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