Apollo Sindhoori Capital Investments, the retail broking arm of the Aditya Birla Group's financial services division, has hired Ravishankar Gopalan from Citi as chief operating officer.

Gopalan will be based out of the Indian city of Chennai. He will report to Sudhakar Ramasubramanian, who was appointed executive director for Apollo Sindhoori for a period of three years, earlier this year. Gopalan will oversee finance, funds, administration, secretarial, information technology and operations, legal and compliance and other functions at Apollo Sindhoori.

"We believe that there is a huge untapped opportunity awaiting us," Ajay Srinivasan, chief executive officer for financial services at the Aditya Birla Group, said of the appointment. "Backed by the strong and trusted Aditya Birla brand, we are confident that Gopalan will bring further energy to our motivated team and business."

Like Srinivasan before him, Gopalan is moving back to India from an overseas posting with a global firm, to take on a new challenge at a home-grown company. Srinivasan was earlier Asia-Pacific CEO for fund management at Prudential Asset Management, based in Hong Kong. He resigned in July 2007 to join the Aditya Birla Group in Mumbai as CEO of financial services and director of corporate strategy and business development. Aditya Birla Group is one of India's leading multinational corporations with a market capitalisation of $28 billion and 100,000 employees. Srinivasan was entrusted with the task of building an integrated financial services conglomerate for the group.

Shortly after joining Aditya Birla Group, Srinivasan brought on board Pankaj Razdan, who was then head of Prudential's India joint venture, ICICI Prudential Asset Management. Razdan joined as deputy CEO under Srinivasan and is also on the board of directors of Apollo Sindoori.

Today, the financial services firms within the group comprise: Birla Sun Life Insurance; Birla Sun Life Asset Management; Birla Sun Life Distribution; Aditya Birla Capital Advisors; Birla Global Finance; and Birla Insurance Advisory and Broking Services. The combined revenues from these companies crossed the $1 billion mark in the last financial year.

Apollo Sindhoori is an Indian broker with 221 branches and 687 franchisees. It deals in equities, derivatives and commodities. It has a customer base of around 175,000 and a history that dates back to 1995. Aditya Birla acquired a majority interest in the company from its owners, the Reddy group, founders of Reddy Hospitals, in March 2009.

At Citi, Gopalan was most recently senior vice-president for the securities and fund services operations for Citi's KL Centre of Excellence in Malaysia. He has over 15 years experience in banking and financial service operations.