One of the few women to have worked through the ranks and reached the pinnacle of broking business, Amisha Vora, who secretly aspired to be a scientist, started her career as financial analyst decades ago. Today, she is Chairperson and Managing Director of the PL Group and holds a 96 per cent stake in the group’s holding firm. Here’s her candid conversation with bl.portfolio.
What does money mean to you?
For me, money means the security to fulfill all your needs, freedom to experience life, and beyond that a means to make a difference in the lives of others. Money and prosperity create a virtuous cycle of growth and opportunities for the individual, society and nation.
How and when did your love with stock markets begin?
My love with the markets began by chance, when I completed my professional degree in Chartered Accountancy (CA) and started my career as a research analyst in JM Financial’s Portfolio Management Services (PMS) division. Analysing balance sheets, understanding the business models, and navigating market cycles is so fascinating that I haven’t found a single day to be boring.
Actually, my childhood dream was to become a scientist, innovate something and contribute to the world. But my being a banker’s daughter, and surrounded by a family of investors and brokers, my father felt commerce and CA was more apt for me.
When did you, on your own, first invest in equities?
At JM Financial, I and around six CAs in the PMS division had decided to invest in a fertiliser stock. That was my first investment, and I lost 5-6 months of my salary on it! But it taught me a lesson which I still follow — never invest without personally analysing and understanding the company and its prospects. Without doing that, you won’t have the conviction to hold the stock during downturn and you’ll end up losing money during market volatility.
Who were your earliest influences in markets at family level and professional level?
My father was a big influence, as he would only invest in companies with quality management and strong governance. He was also a long-term investor. The shares of Colgate he was allotted during the IPO continue to be a part of our family’s portfolio. The wedding of each of my sisters has been partially funded by selling some shares of Colgate.
Professionally, I admire Vinod Sethi, the former MD of Morgan Stanley. His ability to see the big picture, go only with the best management and create wealth through long-term investing has shaped my thinking on how to identify good investment opportunities.
How do you look back at your career?
Frankly, my journey has been very fulfilling and happening. Observing, analysing and predicting market trends and stock ideas truly expand your horizons of knowledge and awareness. It keeps you on your toes and ensures you’re grounded, because the markets are always right, not any individual!
Coming from a vernacular medium, travelling across the globe, meeting some of the most thorough investment professionals andm above all, making recommendations to these FIIs on what to buy and sell in India — it has been a journey par excellence. I was nominated as the Best Sales Person of the Year by Asia Money three times in a row.
Between 2002-03 and 2008-09, I grew PL’s Institutional Business 36-fold in six years. That helped me add the Investment Banking and NBFC arm at PL, and also earn 24 per cent equity in the PL Group. Then, during 2012-2022, I was overseeing the Retail Business and we managed to grow it 10x in 10 years.
Today, PL is a full-stack financial services organisation and has been rated as one of the Best BFSI Brands in India in 2022. With the acquisition of 96 per cent ownership of the PL Group, I become responsible to my 600+ team members and their families, 2,000+ franchisee partners and my 1.5 lakh+ clients.
What is your career and life plan, going forward?
During my Everest Base Camp trek last year, I learnt that when the journey is long, we should keep focusing on the next step and eventually we reach where we need to be. Precisely what I have been doing.
I see a long journey for PL, with huge growth potential. I believe that this decade belongs to India, as we are set to become the third largest economy by 2027.
PL is well-equipped to capture this growth. We have hired the right talent to lead our diversified businesses. Our Board has been expanded with the addition of highly qualified professionals like Rajeev Dalal, Vimal Jain, and Punita Kumar Sinha. On the three pillars of professionalism, empowerment and entrepreneurship, I am targeting 5x growth in five years for the PL Group.
Personally, I am spiritually inclined and this will continue to be an integral part of my life. I also support organisations that provide education and food to underprivileged children, and I wish to do lot more for them.
Has the participation of women as equity investors really improved?
As women’s participation in the workforce improves, we are seeing a rise in women investors. Awareness about portfolio diversification is also improving.
At PL, we walk the talk on gender parity with women in leadership positions — Shilpa Rout (Lead – Derivatives Analyst), Vaishali Parekh (VP – Technical Research), and Shailee Parekh (VP- Institutional Sales). We also launched the ‘Stock Markets are Equal’ campaign last year, to encourage women to embark on their wealth creation journey. We are constantly working on ways to encourage and improve the ratio of women investors.
What lessons did you learn from your best and worst investing experiences?
I have learnt that in markets, it is neither right information nor accurate analysis that alone matters. The size of the bet and the conviction with which you take it makes a huge difference.
Also, creating wealth is a mindset game, so it’s important to win over your own emotions. And that is why we are now laying the foundation of our quant-based wealth management