Tejal Gandhi was working in the operations division of Standard Chartered Bank for 13 years before she decided to venture out on her own in 2002. Tejal did not have any concrete business plan in mind. Her aim was to teach women about the basics of finance
Tejal set out to spread financial literacy among women, who she felt were not well versed with even basic banking transactions. “A lady who was a manager at a leading airlines company asked me which side of the ATM card I should enter to withdraw cash. That set me thinking” recalls Tejal.
Tejal started off by organizing workshops for women where she taught basics about banking and soon realized that there was a complete lack of awareness about insurance, mutual funds and capital markets. To handhold help people with their finances, she thought of becoming a financial advisor.
She took up distribution of portfolio management services (PMS) for IL&FS (now acquired by HSBC). Her existing contacts helped her get 20 clients under PMS. She also took up mutual fund distribution later under IL&FS as a sub-broker. But working under an entity did not establish her identity, she felt.
She then floated her own company called Money Matters. Tejal operated from her home in the initial years and then rented an office near her residence. She acquired a few accounts through telemarketing for the first two year, though she had no prior experience in sales. “Coming from a banking industry servicing clients was very important to me. I had no experience in sales. Telemarketing helped me understand the market. It helped me understand the sales process,” says Tejal sitting in her compact office in central Mumbai.
Over the years Tejal has mastered the art of catering to the unique challenges of women. “Working women have less time than anyone else. Housewives still have some time. Working women are caught between the competitive world of proving themselves at the workplace and fulfilling family responsibilities. Women working at banks also are not adept at financial planning,” observes Tejal.
She actively participates in organizing workshops for senior citizens and women in her Rotary Club and in Indian Merchant Chamber Association’s women wing.
She used to answer reader’s queries on their personal finances on CNBC’s women focused website called ‘Indiwo’ (now defunct). She also teaches girls at schools and NGOs about savings and budgeting.
Tejal believes in catering to small client base. “When I started I focused on a few clients and they have stayed with me till now. There is no point building a large client base if you are not equipped to handle them,” says Tejal. She caters to nearly 70 families with assets under advisory of Rs 20 crore in mutual funds with her three member women team.
She tries to meet all of her clients based in Mumbai. Her aim is to get at least eight corporate accounts this year. Her banking experience taught her that constant engagement was very important even if you have nothing to sell. She keeps sending out some communication to her friends and acquaintances, even if they are not her clients.
Tejal is now looking at training and workshops as another business vertical. She plans to focus particularly on corporate trainings.
She is a great believer in spirituality; however she believes that there is no substitute for hard work. “God is my business partner. God will work if you work and your luck will work if you work. You can’t do without God and money,” believes Tejal. Her clients also remember her by her hand crafted chocolates which she distributes every year. Tejal likes teaching and she has been a professor at Xavier’s Institute of Management and currently teaches insurance at Welingkar.
Interview appeared on Café Mutual on 6th Jan 2013.