Manju Mastakar: Setting An Example For Entreprenial Time Management & Business Wealth Management
Every relationship in the company starts by laying down a financial plan and administrate that, Armstrong is a company. As a company, before offering any financial advice, Armstrong tries to understand all the financial commitments the client has in the near and far future. Armstrong considers all the investments from the client’s end and bucket that into respective goals. After the categorizing, the company then shows the client a complete picture of how the financial aspect will look 10 years from now and what the annuity will be by the time the client retires. This complete end-to-end financial planning is done at Armstrong. The factor that differentiates Armstrong’s financial plans from others is the comprehensiveness of the plans. Armstrong keeps referring back to its plans and then offer sound advice. The company’s core competency is that it works with a lot of integrity and keeps in mind that it needs to build a long-term relationship.
Meet the Passionate Leader
Manju Mastakar, Founder and Managing Director of Armstrong Capital, started working very early in life, at the age of nineteen. She took an internship at a CA firm where she was to do audits of stockbrokers and stock traders, which is when Manju got introduced to the stock markets. Later in early 2000, she worked alongside reputed stockbrokers as a dealer and advisor, recommending stocks to HNI clients. In 2007, Manju moved to Bangalore from Mumbai and worked with a multinational bank and a wealth management firm. Due to the recession followed by the sub-prime crisis in late 2008, she was laid off. That is how Manju was motivated to start her entrepreneurial journey.
Manju’s first official clients were the ones she was handling before making the big move. She had a small home office set-up where she would do her calls and execute market trades. She was also carrying at that time, so motherhood and entrepreneurship both started at the same time. In 2010, Manju met up with an investment banker who made a proposal to fund her and help her start off as a professional. Manju has 10 years of corporate experience working at various levels in a security firm but entrepreneurship struck her differently. Her initial days were all about doing it herself at the minimum cost. Later from 2014, the organization grew rapidly, the company had a good client base and she had more employees to delegate work. Since then Manju never looked back.
Learning from Real-Life Experiences
According to Manju, gender inequality always existed. Very few women wanted to make a career in the capital markets. The dealing room was male-dominated and they would converse in a regional language full of expletives and use foul language. This would make the job even more difficult because, at the entry-level, a fresher expects a lot of motivation.
Manju had to do a lot of research before recommending. Doing research was not easy as it was in the pre-Google era where information was not all over the internet. She had to go to the library to look for books, magazines, shareholder reports and read through them to make notes and write a research report. Her hard work paid off and those reports were appreciated by her colleagues, boss, and clients. Over 2-3 years, Manju’s seniors who had 10+ years of work experience would ask her for views and recommendations and act on them. Continuous research, hours of hard work, and customer focus were the key attributes that helped Manju come a long way.
One Woman Army Fighting Challenges
In the initial stages of her journey as an entrepreneur, Manju was also greeted by challenges, just like other entrepreneurs.
Talking about Funding, Manju explained how she got her seed capital easily but when she wanted to raise the growth capital it was quite tough. Investors would ask “How are you different? There are so many other people doing the same thing as you are doing, why you?” Manju had to look for long-term investors who were willing to invest in her firm as a part of their retirement planning. She had the task to raise a lower amount from more investors.
She had extensive corporate experience and managed investment portfolios of HNI & CEOs of Fortune 500 companies but in the Entrepruner journey multitasking was always a to-do. In the first year of business, Manju had only one employee and both of them had to multitask. Manju’s tasks included marketing, sales, client meetings, after-sales services, uploading files in the software, even writing the content of the marketing material.
Distributing the profits was a long phase. Since the company’s business was only driven by people, Manju had to keep investing in resources and technology upgrades to aid the top-line growth. It was clear to her that to achieve scalability, investing in business was a must, which also meant that the profits would be lower and she would have to manage a tight budget for bonuses and increments. Employees who were in this field by choice stayed back and stuck along.
The last challenge that Manju had to brace was credibility. The company’s competition were the MNC banks’ wealth management division. They had an established brand and much-advanced technology. Armstrong had to compete with them while its clients asked tough questions on the company’s proposal of investment solutions. They would initially start with a much lower amount to test the waters and would slowly scale up only when they saw results.
Important Qualities a Transformational Leader Should Possess
Manju believes that a leader has to listen to younger people for innovation as idea conception is best done by young minds.
A leader needs to have a better insight into the people working with them. According to her, a good insight helps in delegating new and innovative tasks to the right employees.
She further added that a leader needs to be patient with innovation as innovation will have a lot of failures and changes in the path. Innovation also costs a lot of money and time which makes it necessary for leaders to be patient and encourage employees to be persistent.
Strategic Innovation to Boost Sales
According to Manju, innovation is at the heart and what keeps Armstrong updated are the new ways to look at the portfolio, innovative tools to research, and robo-financial planning tools.
She also stated that with the availability of information, many clients are inclined towards the “Do It Yourself” strategy, so the company’s apps allow them to take over the charge.
The Future Ahead
Manju believes fintech companies and wealth management are parts of the entire ecosystem. Fintech is focused on more retail and entry-level investors and after an asset reaches a big value, the investor realizes that he needs professional guidance. Manju observes human to human communication cannot be eliminated. Armstrong’s job as a wealth manager is to manage its clients’ emotions more than the money. Our experience has been that a lot of such investors place their bets on past performance and star ratings. Unfortunately, both of them are not consistent, and over some time they look for guidance.”
While execution is possible online, communication is needed to offer personalized advice. This is why Manju feels both models will continue to co-exist and as human advice and swift online execution both are required for an investor.
Balancing Wealth Management and Fintech
Radiating Key Suggestion to Emerging Women Leaders
“The first thing required is a very high level of commitment. You have to put those extra hours and go that extra mile to move the needle. Time management is another important aspect, being a homemaker and mother, a woman has to manage time efficiently. Sometimes work can be demanding, and sometimes the domestic front can be demanding”, says Manju. To manage time, Manju suggests using a lot of e-commerce companies to necessities online. “I also prefer ordering food online and save on time. Well, you must accept that you can’t be a superwoman and do it all by yourself. The second most important thing is managing family expectations. People around will compare the additional hours at work or the extra commitment as not worth the money, the women need to be emotionally strong to handle that kind of criticism and believe that it takes a good amount of time to establish a venture.”