India family office boom brings changing asset preferences

Wealthy Indian families are moving away from traditional and physical assets to more financial investments such as public equities, said the founder of Sharrp Ventures - the Mariwala Family Office.
India family office boom brings changing asset preferences

Wealthy Indian families -- and their offices -- are gradually moving away from very traditional and physical investments and incorporating more public and private market investments, a family office executive told AsianInvestor.

“There is a change in the asset class mix for wealthy Indian families,” said Rishabh Mariwala, a second-generation Indian family business entrepreneur and founder and managing partner of Sharrp Ventures - the Mariwala Family Office.

“Traditionally [wealthy] Indian families were very focused on real estate because it was tangible and it held long-term value – or at least that is how the thought process was,” he said, adding that investors held the belief that only physical assets like real estate and fixed deposits appreciated in value.

Much of that mindset has changed now. “The growth in public equity markets has helped to change that perception,” he said.

The office manages the proprietary capital of the Harsh Mariwala family, founder of Marico, one of India's most well-respected consumer goods company.

Marico, a listed company, is best known for its Parachute coconut oil and Saffola refined oil brands. Its stock market capitalisation was equivalent to about $8.6 billion in mid-May.

While Sharrp Ventures invests long-term patient capital and supports portfolio companies through multiple stages of growth and evolution, the family office holds a bulk of its investments in public markets.


There are about 300 family offices in India, according to some local estimates.

Global trends are pushing family-run businesses to professionalise the way their assets and wealth are managed, according to a report by Indian consultancy Marc Global.

Along with public markets, these emerging offices are bringing an increased interest in direct private investments and co-investments, the consultancy said.

Mariwala is optimistic about the performance of public markets, especially as Marico itself has a strong stock report card.

The value of India’s stock market crossed the $2 trillion mark in July 2017, and surpassed $3 trillion in May 2021 and climbed even further to $4 billion in 2023.

After overtaking Hong Kong in December last year, the country’s market is now ranked the fourth-largest in the world, valued at over $4.6 trillion.

That has encouraged many wealthy Indian families to consider adding public equities to diversify their wealth.

“Risk-taking appetite has improved, with the younger generation more inclined to take risks,” said Mariwala.

“Even if an investor chose the top quartile stocks and had a mix of industries, they could easily get 12-15% in [annual] returns,” he added.


The stock market’s meteoric rise has been built on the robust growth of the economy. With a population of more than 1.4 billion people, India has emerged as an economic powerhouse, with strengths in manufacturing and services.

It is the world’s fifth-largest economy by gross domestic product.

Importantly, a new generation of young wealthy Indians is emerging. They will be recipients of a ‘great intergenerational wealth transfer' estimated up to $4 trillion over the next 25 years.

As digital natives and social changemakers, the new generation has different preferences in lifestyle, spending and investing.

"All this has led to a shift in asset preferences from jewellery and real estate to public equities as part of investment portfolios,” said Mariwala.

About 60% of the Mariwala’s family office portfolio is in public markets, with strict guardrails around what it invests in.

“We have a team (external) that does stock selection and we steer clear from companies that have any governance issues. We also don’t invest in utilities or industrials,” he said.

“We have less than 20 stocks so our bets are more concentrated.”.

“We let our fund managers do their job, and we do our reviews of their recommendations,” Mariwala said, adding that the family office has outsourced the public equities part and has in-sourced the venture capital portion under Sharrp Ventures.

Image credit: Shutterstock


The motivation to set up a family office came partly from a need to effectively manage growing liquidity accruing from Marico's dividends.

"In our case, we are a public listed company and our dividend payout ratio has increased significantly in 2015.

“Our stock [Marico] has also compounded 21% annually over the past 20 years, so putting my money back into the company that was giving me the best returns was like a no-brainer,” said Mariwala.

However, the need to diversify was also paramount.

“I asked my father, who is a true-blue entrepreneur, can we diversify and not put all our eggs in one basket? And that’s how the [family office] journey started for us,” he said.

“I am very comfortable with public markets, because I have seen what it has done for Marico. If a company is well-governed, then I believe there is strong potential in public market equities,” he added.

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