Everything is about our future. Present swirls past through us in every moment. We cannot do anything about our past but remember it. We can learn about our current situation through our past and invest in our present to enrich the future. The investment differs according to personalized objectives, plans, and goals. As one of the most trusted wealth managers, Manju Mastakar offers comprehensive investment solutions through Armstrong Capital & Financial Services Pvt Ltd. Manju provides Lifelong Financial Guidance that allows you to live confidently.
Armstrong is an Investment Management firm providing professional insights and strategic advice on all facets of the financial needs of an individual as well as Corporate.
Manju says everyone has a different risk-taking appetite and long-term and short-term financial goals. As wealth managers, Manju and her Armstrong team aim to provide customized financial solutions to their clients that best meet their needs.
Manju leads the team in managing a versatile portfolio that covers a broad spectrum of Financial Services like, Mutual Funds, International Funds, Passive Indexes, PMS, AIF, REITS, Risk management, Treasury management, Corporate Bonds and Fixed Income Instruments.
She says that every relationship starts with a Financial Plan. “Every client that becomes part of the Armstrong family is special to us. We focus on a trusted, long-term relationship with them. Whether the portfolio is big or small initially, we build it together for the brighter future of the client,” she states.
Manju is an accomplished finance maven passionate about building investment plans and driving financial independence. Over 23 years in the industry, she acquired extensive knowledge, demonstrated diligent client commitment, and received several awards and recognitions.
Her success story is rooted in her tenacity and depth of financial knowledge, which Manju developed while working as an intern for a Chartered Accountant in Dalal Street in the early 2000s. From Assistant Accountant to Dealer, Account Manager, Portfolio Manager, and eventually Regional Manager, my ascent up the corporate ladder was based on my insatiable desire to learn.
She relocated to Bangalore in 2007. During the financial crisis of 2008, when she lost her job, she decided to explore entrepreneurship. Armed with extensive financial subject experience and good multitasking skills, she founded Armstrong Capital & Financial Services Pvt. Ltd. It is an investment solution firm offering its clients a complete spectrum of wealth management services. Since its inception in 2010, her Bangalore-based firm has served over 1,000 satisfied clients and has become a trusted name in the wealth management industry.
In an exclusive interview with Insights Success, Manju discussed financial planning, investment, and wealth management. The highlights of the interview are given herein.
Please describe Armstrong Capital & Financial Services in detail.
Armstrong was formed in 2010. Initially, it offered alternate investments like commodity and currency trading as the key offering. Along with Direct Equity Advisory, we quickly realized that these products are good for short-term gains, not long-term wealth creation. Then gradually, we pivoted and moved to Financial Planning and Wealth Management. Our Financial plans are the backbone of our business. We analyze the cashflows of our clients, understand their life goals, calculate their leverage, draw a plan to meet the gap, make them debt free, and finally, the main goal is to make them Financially Independent.
What inspired you to venture into the financial sector as a wealth management firm?
From a very early age, I was attracted to the stock market. I would track stocks when I was in high school. Then in my early college days, I learned to read Balance Sheets. I would analyze the published balance sheet of listed companies. A wise man once said you don’t choose your passions. Rather your passions choose you. If you make your passion your profession, you will never feel like you are working. So I choose to follow my passion.
Building a Wealth Management Business is tough. Many Foreign Firms that came to set up a shop in India failed. Why do you feel you succeeded?
A wealth management business is not built with money. It’s built over time because it’s business of building trust, which happens over time.
Our Pedigree is the research before recommending the strategy we adopt for profit booking and asset allocation. The updates and information we give the client for efficient making differentiate us from others.
Wealth building starts at the intersection of apprehensiveness to invest and the desire to be wealthy. It is the art of influencing the client’s mind by educating them, handholding them, and listening to the emotional baggage they carry, dreams and aspirations they want to fulfil. Balancing greed and fear is wealth management.
What were the initial challenges after venturing into the wealth management field, and what are the challenges now?
In the early years when I started, the biggest competition was the Banks. They had a big Wealth Management setup. They had Technology. They had the best talent and, most importantly, access to the client’s bank accounts. Where else I only had skills and experience by my side. Since I didn’t have to create awareness for the products, I could bootstrap.
Today the challenges are different. “Do it yourself” platforms are competing with us. Today we meet a lot of Investment savvy customers. The cost of acquiring a customer is reduced, but the cost of retaining a client has gone up.
Being an experienced leader, share your opinion on how technology is transforming the wealth management sector and what advancements can we expect in the future.
Our Business is not about innovation or technology but about leveraging technology to deliver exceptional Investment Advice. Internally we have created AI models to rebalance the portfolio and evaluate performance; we will slowly move all the mundane tasks to AI. In many other aspects of Business, we have learned to outsource. We have adopted using gigs for a lot of small-time work. The freelancer community is serving us better as we don’t waste time doing things we are not good at. Rather delegate it to professionals, buy gigs, and get it done.
How do you Recruit, Influence, and Train your resources?
There are two kinds of candidates that you meet. One who wants to work to make a difference in your life and one who wants to make a difference in their life. The first one is the one who will convince you that he is fit for the job. They won’t negotiate on salary. The other is the one who will use you as a ladder. An employer gives an employee a chance that no one else would give, and later on, they make a difference. You can get the best talent is to hiring someone from a different field with a passion for following their heart.
On Retaining – Over a while, our old employees have become like a big Banyan tree. The older it gets, the roots are stronger. And it cannot be uprooted and put somewhere else. If it is uprooted, it dies. Similar are the employees. The older they get, their base strengthens, so attrition is low. I give much liberty to my employees to make the decision. If power is with employees, then an organization succeeds.
How, as a woman, have you advanced in your predominantly male-dominated industry?
Excellence doesn’t discriminate between genders. A leader doesn’t start from the top. Most leaders come from humble beginnings. Starting as an intern at a CA firm over 20 years ago and then spending several years taking up jobs at various broking firms made me tough to start an entrepreneurial journey of my own. Advising over 1000+ clients polished my skills on how Investments should be managed. My career began by working in a small office. There I learned to multitask, which is a skill that has helped me through the initial stages of my business. From customer services to managing accounts and PR, I had hands-on experience managing everything.
I never aspired to be where I am. It’s just that I worked hard. My colleagues saw the quality of work done, they recommended me, and I moved up the ladder.
Where do you envision yourself in the long run, and what are your future goals for Armstrong Capital & Financial Services?
In this business, the Investment Advisor is the core of the business as we have all functionalities very dynamic – the product, the advice, the relationship, and the service. I want to build a robust corporate wealth management company with process
and automation at its core. I like the business process to be atomized and not only the transactions.
What would you advise the aspirants willing to venture into the wealth management niche?
Disruptive not always succeed – being more adaptive to customers’ needs do. Initially, invest in people, then in the process, then infrastructure, and finally, build a culture that has a balance of being competitive and accommodative.
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