"At Armstrong, every relationship starts with a Financial plan"- Manju Mastakar, Founder, Armstrong Capital Advisory Pvt. Ltd.
The global financial crisis of 2008 hit Indian stock market hard. This Financial meltdown triggered widespread termination across the country. Many people bid farewell to their jobs, Manju witnessed the fall between cracks. In between the financial chaos, job cuts, and recession, a pair of eyes concocted a vision. Manju Mastakar is the Founder and Director of Armstrong Capital. She is a seasoned gem possessing two decades of experience in managing Investments. She turned her agitation into a business opportunity. Manju's foregoing experience and business contacts accoutered as the initial investment for her venture- Armstrong Capital. Her preceding career journey as a finance professional started in the Dalal Steet of Mumbai advising Direct Equity Traders, she has also worked in corporate houses like Motilal Oswal, MF Global, and HSBC."I started operating from home. I got empanelled with service providers like RR investors and Phillip capital as their sub broker and started doing Mutual fund and Direct equity advisory. Later in 2010, I met an angel investor who agreed to fund me and thus this was the beginning of Armstrong Capital Advisory." told Manju. She felt the urge to incorporate a wealth management advisory firm that understands the needs of the clients and accordingly provides the solution and also builds lifelong relations with clients with lifelong expertise commitment. At that time all the organizations were focused on getting the big buck quickly, selling insurances, selling structured products. Armstrong Capital stood out with their strategic approach and vision of identifying requirements and selling solutions. The night of 9th November 2016 bought a historical twist 'demonetization' in Indian economy which became a nurturing opportunity for the BFSI domain. The cash clean movement gave wealth management firms and financial advisories a new meaning. Growth has returned to the industry in a new way. India's financial sector is enduring rapid expansion in terms of existing financial services. The old ones are becoming gold and new entities are taking over the money market as a pro. Manju shares Armstrong Capital's business voyage with The CEO Magazine:
What were the challenges Armstrong team encountered?
Armstrong Capital was born is an industry which was dying, entry loads were abolished and the revenue earned from Mutual fund distribution was not enough to cover our operating cost. Keeping cost under control was the key initiative. We worked out of shared office; we also shared admin resources, which helped to keep our operating cost under control. At the initial stage, we were a team of two handling all the operations by ourselves, later after a year our time doubled; we became a team of four. On the business front, we focused on recurring deposits, Corp. fixed deposits bonds that helped us survive and we firmed our roots. The revenue structures in the mutual fund industry were beneficial in the long run only, and we wanted to harvest our investment of hard work, passion, sweat, and blood, to be the blue diamond of the wealth management industry. We as a team always believed that marketing is a continuous exercise and it is never dependent on references, so we did cold calling, meeting, follow up and acquired customers for our prosperous starting.
What makes Armstrong Capital stand apart?
A lot of customers say that like any other firm you also take down the inputs then how are you different. It's just like all Doctors check you with their stethoscope, yet the interpretation and the prescription make the difference. So similarly investment management has to be experienced to feel the difference. The biggest challenge that clients were facing included a frequent change in either their Investment managers or frequent change in portfolio strategies and products. When we meet prospects, we look at the whole scenario, all the investments did till dates like PF, PPF, LIC, Real estate, mutual funds, and Insurances. We deep dive at their liabilities. We gave a holistic view about asset allocation; plan to help them pay out their liabilities, to get an annuity so that salary is not the only source of Income. We set up review meeting at every interval and touch back on the plan. We had only one plan and one perspective through the wealth creation journey that what addressed the customers need and they stayed with us for a long time.
The way we work
The way we work has been very different from the way any other wealth management firms work, they focus more on products that give short term benefit rather than long term returns. While doing Investment planning we give customer Plan A and Plan B. We avoid investing in locking products so that we can review and change allocation according to the necessity. Till date employees and interns also contributed in a big way for Armstrong's success.
On the management side, a lot of effort is put into training and improving employees' professional skills. I also make sure my appearance in the financial planning and customer acquisition activity. The personal attention, uniqueness of our financial plans, involving the customer in decision making has contributed to our success.
Please throw some colors on Armstrong Capital's offering.
Armstrong offers services in form of Financial Planning & Investment Advisory. We analyze our client's past investments, understand his liabilities, discuss with them about what we think. Take a judgmental call on clients' risk appetite and then offer him the perfect solution. We call it our execution plan, then we again discuss it with the customer, involving him in the decision-making process of choosing the right mutual fund. We get a percentage of commission from the Mutual fund house. The bigger our Asset under management higher the revenue we yield.
Milestones and Accolades
Since inception, Armstrong Capital has witnessed exponential growth all the time, in the initial years of inception the company focused more on FD's and got awards from DHFL and Shriram Transport Finance for exceptional performance.
In 2015, Armstrong Capital received awards from the various fund for significant contribution to its AUM. This year, Birla Mutual fund awarded Armstrong Capital for its contribution to the highest sips in Bangalore. Tata Mutual fund also awarded the firm for commendable business contribution and BNP Paribas recognized Armstrong Capital for highest contribution for sips. Recently a leading business magazine has recognized Armstrong Capital for being the most promising wealth management firm. Manju has endless dreams for Armstrong, she quotes, "we want to expand presence in other cities, need more feet on the ground, make people aware of financial planning, get more presence online and social media. When we meet customers they don't know that there is a profession like a Financial Advisor, our focus for the next couple of years will be to make awareness for this profession, provoke the habit of savings and build a legacy for them.
Manju Mastakar – the woman behind Armstrong Capital
She is passionate about building financial plans and driving Financial Independence for her clients. She works with the affluent young salaried professional and helps them to deleverage their portfolio and gear up the Investments to see good post tax returns. they are known for solving the most complex financial problems and work closely with clients. Today they manage 400+ clients and they are passionate about building and nurturing relationships.
In the last 18 years of her career, she has worked on Direct Equity Advisory, Equity Derivative Strategy, Commodity Derivatives, Fixed Income Products, Private Equity Fund raises, Equity and Mutual fund research, Currency Derivatives and Corporate cash flow management.
Manju also mentors and coaches' young graduate professionals through the internship programs. With this program, she has helped many students understand how businesses are and various other aspects. Her mentoring has helped many to evolve & transform from a student to an employee and choose a career path.