C. J. Punnathara

Kochi, Oct. 2

"PORTFOLIO management services are no longer an exclusive club restricted to top-notch executives and high net worth individuals, but are increasingly percolating into the upper and lower middleclass households in the country," Mr Porinju Veliyath, Managing Director of Equity Intelligence, said.

The less than three-year-old Equity Intelligence has already built up a client base of 540 and an asset portfolio of Rs 100 crore. Significantly, the client base of the company extends from farmers in Vijayawada, to schoolteachers in Salem, bank staff in Ahmednagar, insurance agents in Guntur, army personnel in Coonnoor and housewives in remote villages such as Cheruthuruthy and Chellanam in Kerala, Mr Porinju said.

The rush of middleclass households into portfolio management is also due to the low entry barrier of Rs 5 lakh put forth by Equity Intelligence for its services, one of the lowest quoted by any portfolio management company in the country. The company has no marketing establishment , but its customer base has been growing through recommendations from existing clients.

There had been a very sharp growth in its client base last year. Based exclusively on the good report card and strong recommendations of existing clients, new customers have come seeking the company's services, Mr Porinju said. On a year-on-year basis, the company's client base has grown over 300 per cent, from around 145 clients last year to 540 today.

"We have not only helped to bridge the rich-to-middle class divide, but also the rural-urban segregation, and with our customer base extending to all parts of India, geography is becoming history in the portfolio management business," Mr Porinju said.

Two farmers from Vijayawada had come down to Kochi to find out more about Equity Intelligence. Two top company officials later visited Vijayawada. When they returned, they had added a dozen customers. Now, the client base from Vijayawada alone would be around 65 people from all walks of life, Mr Porinju said.

Mr K.P. Padmakumar, Chairman of the company, said the skill of the portfolio manager lies in identifying the right nuggets, which have not been correctly valued in the equity market but have huge potential. "This is just the beginning of the Indian growth story, which will be better reflected in the equity markets in the years to come," he added.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 3, 2005)
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