India's Waterfield Advisors, a new multi-family office, plans to set up another branch in the next three months, most likely in Bangalore, to add to those it has just opened in New Delhi and Chennai.
Bangalore is possibly the country's major IT hub; its answer to Silicon Valley – hence potentially fertile ground for wealthy technology specialists and entrepreneurs.
The Mumbai-based firm launched in the summer and now services 31 families – three are from New Delhi and three from Chennai. Waterfield aims to increase that figure to 10 for each city by the end of the year.
Each of the two new offices comprise a director of FO services, a private wealth manager and a support team.
Meanwhile, Munish Randev, Waterfield's chief investment officer, has visited FOs in London over the past month with a view to building a common platform to act as a bridge between FOs in India and Europe. Through the platform, European FOs would draw on Waterfield's equity advisory services to manage their India exposure, for example.
And back in India, a new type of client has emerged in the form of the medium-sized corporate treasury, said Randev. The firm now services four such entities.
The MFO's advisory and fiduciary services are also attractive to treasuries that traditionally have largely worked with big distribution houses, he said.
Waterfield offers direct access to share classes available for institutional investors, as well as fee transparency, he added. Since mutual funds comprise 30-40% of core FO portfolios, direct access to funds can result in significant savings, Randev told AsianInvestor.
Sometimes the difference in fees between going direct and paying an advisory fee and going through a distributor is as high as 70-80 basis points, he added.
Another driver for Waterfield's business is changing behaviour of families when it comes to setting up trusts.
Randev said discussions with FOs have shifted from focusing on investment management to how wealth is structured for the next generation. Part of this trend is down to an increase in FOs formalising their structure, rather than relying on informal relationships.
The use of trusts is becoming more sophisticated, with families now setting up multiple vehicles whereas once they would have often relied on one, he noted.
“Setting up multiple trusts – one for lifestyle management providing regular cashflow, one for growth, etcetera – is becoming more common."
Randev joined the financial advisory firm as CIO of the MFO business in August from Avendus Wealth alongside another new hire, Amit Shah, director of corporate advisory services. The duo report to Waterfield CEO Soumya Rajan, who was India head of private banking at Standard Chartered before launching the advisory firm in 2011.
The MFO business has backing from the Patni family office, one of the country’s biggest SFOs, formed after the sale of Patni Computer Systems in 2011. Brothers Amit and Arihant Patni acquired a stake in Waterfield in March with a view to helping build a corporate advisory and MFO business.