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Alternative Investment Exposures Would Grow Significantly In Coming Years: Abhijit Bhave

In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, Abhijit Bhave, CEO, Karvy Private Wealth talks about UHNI investors and more.

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Over the years, have you observed any discernible behavioural differences in the way UHNI’s approach their investments/portfolios? 

UHNIs are more diligent in allocating funds and are more informed. Transparency in fees and charges is expected and Investors are more cost-conscious. The investment decision-making process for UHNI investors has become more sophisticated, and asset allocation is of prime importance. 

How would you describe the attitude of the majority of UHNI’s towards risk-taking? 

Trends indicate a shift of portfolio exposure towards alternative investments. Direct venture capital investments and absolute return strategies among the most popular investments in UHNIs and Family Offices. Calculated risk-taking and tactical allocations can be seen in portfolios. 

How inclined/disinclined are UHNI’s towards plain vanilla products such as Mutual Funds? Are they more inclined towards investing directly into stocks? 

Core portfolio allocations consist of both Mutual Funds and Direct Stock and Bond Investments. Both approaches go hand in hand and are equally focussed in UHNI portfolios. 

Broadly speaking, how do UHNI’s approach their real estate investment portfolios? Do they prefer to buy land or to invest through vehicles such as REITs? 

Commercial properties and commercial asset funds are popular. Direct investment depends on the ticket size of the property. Land purchases are still done directly as it has a heavy home city bias. 

In your observation, how inclined as UHNI’s towards making angel investments/growth capital investments in start-ups/ VC investments? Do they generally prefer to do these directly or through a fund? 

Initially, these investments were done via VC funds as direct access to such deals was limited. Over the last two years, we have seen a surge in direct deals by Family Offices and UHNI investors. This indicates that the Indian VC industry is maturing at a fast pace. The reason behind this is first, investors do not want to shell out fund management expenses and profit-sharing, secondly, they wish to be a part of the management and decision making in these start-ups providing their network and expertise, and thirdly, they might have synergies with the investee companies for their running business and are looking at these companies as probable takeovers in the future. 

How would you describe the attitude of most of your UHNI clients to philanthropic endeavours? Do you believe that a specific vehicle to this effect, would be of interest to UHNI’s? 

UHNIs usually make philanthropic contributions through their own charitable trust or foundations. They usually dedicate efforts to a cause which may be personal in nature or related to their profession/business which gives them a deep understanding of the issue and makes them better equipped to tackle it. 

What product gaps need to be filled in the Indian market for UHNI’s, compared to more evolved global markets such as the U.S & Europe? 

Venture Capital/Private Equity investments still a minuscule part of the overall portfolio. More sophisticated products on the fixed income side are yet to enter India. Alternative investment exposures would grow significantly in the coming years. 

Do you find resistance within the “old money” UHNI’s towards more complex investment products such as structures? Are they generally more inclined towards traditional avenues such as Bank Deposits? 

The old money has also evolved with changing trends and we see these investors opting for better tax-effective avenues for investments. Though we still see higher exposure to bank fixed deposits and bonds than structured products. 


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