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Twitter & Facebook Feeds Are Bolder, Yet Very Honest: Aditi Kothari, DSP Mutual Fund

In an interview with BW Businessworld, Aditi Kothari, Director & Head - Sales and Marketing at DSP Mutual Fund, talks about branding and marketing strategy and more

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How has the exit of BlackRock influenced your branding and marketing strategy? Are you planning to reposition yourselves as more “Indian” at this stage?

For starters, we will now be driving our own independent branding and marketing initiatives. We have designed a new logo that signifies who we really are. It has a youthful, fresh and confident new look: bold type, refined colors and a defining element: The Line. The Line reflects what DSP stands for: Simple. Focused. Principled. Humble. Contemporary. Visionary. Sophisticated. Agile. 

Our new positioning “Invest For Good”, comes straight from our philosophy of always doing what’s right for our investors. We truly believe that following good values and principles will lead to good long-term outcomes for our investors. 

The attributes that guide our new brand identity and philosophy signify the character of the firm and what we want each of our employees to aspire to. BlackRock may not be our partner anymore, but we always have and will continue to maintain the best global standards. DSP is a global investment manager with an Indian heart and soul!

Has this been a challenging phase for the company? Business wise, have you had any alarm bells ringing – say, in the form of higher than usual redemption pressure or SIP stoppages?

2018 has been a tough year for the entire mutual fund industry. The growth rate for SIPs was down from a year ago. Despite the drop in SIP growth rate, our relationships with digital distribution platforms were very active. The mutual fund industry is seeing an increasing role being played by these online platforms who have grown in number and stature. The focus for the industry now must be on finding the best way to service all online investors who are investing in mutual funds and have no physical advisor. More than being efficient in selling to them, one must truly be responsible in how we sell to them, whether it’s the investor who comes in through third party online platforms or through our own website. We are committed to being highly responsible while making the entire investing experience as seamless as possible. This involves not just pushing the most popular products, which may not necessarily be right for an investor. We endeavour to sell the right product to the right person for the right purpose at the right time.

How did DSP’s digital strategy evolve in 2018? What are your plans for 2019?

Digital now is broken up into selling on our own platform, servicing other digital platforms and marketing in the most efficient way to reach that crowd. So you will notice that our Twitter and Facebook feeds are bolder, yet very honest. We are making sure that our customer service can handle all direct customers that come to us. We believe in incrementally adding to the experience of our online users by making sure we are as focused on education as we are on user experience during purchase and redemption. Though we want to make the purchase experience more enjoyable we are more concerned on making certain that investors purchase the best product suited for their needs. On the distributor side, we are focused on engaging with our distributors with simple and efficient updates so that they in turn are able send the right, personalised messages to clients who they believe may benefit from any of our products. We have a digital platform for our distributors called IFA Express and we continue to add more value and features which allows distributors to better serve their customers and make transactions more seamless.

Anecdotal evidence would suggest that investors are growing impatient, with the markets stuck in a narrow range for a long time now. How does DSP plan to influence investor behaviour and have them stay aligned towards their longer-term objectives during these tricky times?

Digital and machine learning are helping us identify customers that are particularly agitated because of markets and we are sharing data and insights with them to help them understand that long term investing is the bedrock of a successful investor experience. Our social media posts, investor education and other initiatives bear testimony to this thought and help further the cause to the right audience. When we opened our small cap fund for fresh SIP purchases, we had mentioned a bold – 67% in a social media post to remind people that the fund returns for a category such as this could be volatile in the short term and we wanted the investor to be aware of that. The response to this message was phenomenal, with a lot of advisors, social media mavens and investors appreciating our candor and transparency. When we marketed our healthcare fund, we told people very clearly that this is not a short term tactical play and that this should be a part of one’s portfolio, provided one has the tenacity and vision to let the pharma theme play out over the long term. We believe honesty and transparency are the only ways we can effectively educate a customer and truly win their trust.

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Aditi Kothari DSP Mutual Fund