Personal Finance

A ‘Vantage’ point to manage wealth

Aarati Krishnan | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on March 27, 2016

Mumbai-based firm Asset Vantage explains how technology can help wealth owners gain better control of their financial lives



As technology makes a big-bang entry into personal finance, Asset Vantage, a Mumbai-based firm, has converted this into a business idea. It has come up with a tech-enabled platform that helps high net worth investors track and monitor their family finances.

The platform has signed up with many marquee clients in Mumbai and Pune. Chirag Nanavati, Executive Director of Asset Vantage, explains how technology can help wealth owners gain better control of their financial lives.

How do Indian high net worth families usually track and manage their portfolios?

We have found that wealth owners in India often do not use a systematic approach to track or manage their family wealth. Yes, their company finances are professionally managed to comply with statutory requirements, but their personal wealth tends to be spread across different branches of the family, entities and asset classes.

The usual practice is to hire a chartered accountant to take care of personal wealth. Or the chief financial officer at family firms may double up to as personal wealth manager. But in the process, the finance teams tend to be burdened with heaps of manual data entry and cumbersome reporting.

We have also found that professional accountants tend to look at these portfolios mainly from a taxation perspective. Transaction details are usually compiled towards the end of each financial year and this is not really intended to provide inputs for investment decision-making.

If the portfolio tracking function is taken care of by a professional, what is the role for technology?

Even in today’s digital world, wealth owners are highly dependent on manual systems to record any information on their investments, account for it and store documents.

Just imagine, even as a retail investor, how difficult it is to obtain a single view of your entire portfolio. You may own some bank deposits, stocks, some bonds, a few mutual funds, jewellery, a few pieces of land and real estate. These entities may provide account statements in different formats.

So, your mutual fund statement may come in from CAMS or Karvy, the stock holdings from NSDL and then statements from different banks.

On jewellery and real estate, you rely on your own estimates. If you would like to capture and track these on an ongoing basis, that’s a herculean task.

This problem multiplies with high net worth families who may have wealth spread across asset classes and entities, keeping them in the dark about their true asset allocation and performance. Today, anytime and anywhere access to data is imperative for making good decisions. Only technology can enable such control and put the power of information back in the hands of the wealth owner.

So how does Asset Vantage manage this compilation?

The Asset Vantage platform sources raw data in these varying formats from different providers and compiles it, so that he/she has a single view of the portfolio.

The platform has the ability to convert data from depositories, RTAs, bank statements, fund accounts and the like into machine readable format, so that they are updated as soon as they are made available. For real-time updates, we mostly rely on primary data sources like the stock exchanges, depositories, banks and CAMS and Karvy.

In fact, the whole idea of Asset Vantage originated when the single family office of the UniDEL group realised how difficult it was to get answers from manually created reports, especially in times of crisis like the global financial meltdown of 2008!

So they decided to combine the group’s expertise in engineering and technology to come up with a complete portfolio tracking and integrated accounting platform with a document vault.

Many personal finance portals today offer portfolio tracking features for free. So why would HNIs need a specialised fee-based service to do this?

Well, most wealth owners and families would be extremely wary of sharing all their personal financial details on a public platform, even if it does claim to have some security features.

If you opt for a free service, there is always the possibility that the data you share with the portal will be aggregated and used for some commercial purpose.

As Steve Jobs said, If you are not the customer, you are the product!

At Asset Vantage, we take the privacy of customer data very seriously. We don’t offer a common portal where any member of the public can log on.

Each client gets a specific URL or a virtual private server through which he or she alone can log into the system. Plus, Asset Vantage staffers have absolutely no access to the data that customers store.

The system is encrypted and the username and password controls lie only with the client.

Today, many wealth advisors use technology to track customer portfolios and there are robo advisories who use tech for financial planning and investment decision making. So how can Asset Vantage compete with those?

We are very clear that we are only offering a data capture and portfolio monitoring service and are not in the advisory business.

The idea is to empower the CIO/CFO or the wealth advisor who manages the HNI’s finances to obtain all the data needed to trigger investment actions.

We do have analytical tools incorporated into our software that enable the individual to get a mark-to-market view of his entire portfolio at any given point in time.

We also break down the portfolio into asset allocation pattern, security-wise exposure and so on.

But as of now, we would like to stay away from active participation in the portfolio decisions because this could also violate our data privacy rules.

Today, we do not even know the total assets that our clients are tracking or monitoring through our platform.

What is the fee to subscribe to your service?

The basic fee ranges from ₹500 to ₹1,000 per month per entity with more complex editions for large business families with multiple entities.

So we have the Family edition, priced at ₹6,000 a year for users with a few asset classes; Family Pro for users with more asset classes at ₹9,000 and Business for Chartered Accountants, which is priced at a discount of 20 to 50 per cent depending on the number of entities subscribed for.

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