Avendus: Celebrating an Independent State of Mind

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This is a sponsored article from Avendus.

Nothing about Avendus Wealth Management conforms to type. Unlike the vast majority of its peers in India’s burgeoning private wealth sector, its heritage is neither in conventional banking nor in run-of-the-mill stockbroking. Rather, it traces its roots to its tech-savvy founding partners at coolstartups.com – a standalone provider of resources to dotcoms – who created the parent company in 1999.

The firm quickly pivoted into an investment bank in 2000. Today, it is an integrated financial services firm that offers its clients access to a full suite of investment banking, credit solutions, wealth, and asset management solutions. Avendus Wealth Management oversees $3.3* billion in AUM for more than 1,000 UHNW and HNW families, while the group’s flagship investment banking business has completed 152 M&A transactions worth $11.42 billion and 206 private equity transactions worth $10.84 billion. And, since 2016, it has had the global private equity giant KKR as its majority shareholder – another key differentiator in the otherwise largely parochial world of Indian wealth management.

Its significantly enhanced size, reach and credentials notwithstanding, Avendus has stayed true to its unorthodox origin story in at least two keyways: it still cherishes its independent spirit, and it is still laser-focused on servicing entrepreneurs. That’s equally true when helping them to create wealth through sourcing funds to grow their businesses or managing the ensuing wealth these corporate endeavors generate. It is still, for example, the first port of call in India for entrepreneurs raising growth capital.

As Nitin Singh, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at Avendus Wealth Management, puts it succinctly: “We live and breathe entrepreneurs. They are in our blood; they are at the heart of and shape our culture; and they are in the DNA of everything we do, both as individuals and as an institution.”

Independent in spirit and deed
In this way, independence is both a cherished state of mind and a cultural imperative at Avendus. This might be why there was fanfare but a sense almost of inevitability when it won ‘Best Independent Wealth Manager – India Domestic’ in the recent 2020 Asian Private Banker (APB) Awards for Distinction. The firm was also recognized as a Private Bank of Choice across HNW & Mega HNW clients & most improved Private Banking service across categories in Euromoney Global Private Banking and Wealth Management Survey, 2021, underscoring their winning journey on the path of excellence.

The award recognized the probity and scrupulousness of Avendus’ differentiated approach to product and fund selection as much as it did its tangible achievements in the past 12 months. This is no mean feat, given that its agile response to the Covid-19 pandemic included an impressive array of counter-attacking innovative launches and strategies. These gave clients access to digital economy-focused funds targeting secondary investments in growth-stage companies; alternate debt focusing on venture debt funding for high-growth companies; and direct high-yield debt investments.

Getting on the Avendus platform can indeed be regarded as an achievement in itself. Its stringent product evaluation process means that 70-80% of all funds and deals seen by its product desks are rejected. Further scrutinized by investment and asset allocation committees staffed by specialists across all asset classes, successful products must survive a due diligence process that even grudging competitors describe as the most rigorous but effective in the market.

Similarly, with a commitment to client-centricity that demands an open architecture approach, a majority of the more than 80 funds on Avendus platform are managed by third parties. Singh elaborates: “We put clients first in terms of what we put on our platform. Our standards are high, and we simply can’t work with a limited suite of products. To do the right thing by our clients, we require a large universe of the highest quality funds from across all asset classes.”

Finding alpha in the fastest-moving industries
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the rapidly developing alternative assets space. Reflecting its heritage and position of pride at the heart of India’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, Avendus is confident that it has had a role in almost every significant venture capital and private equity deal that has been transacted in the country since inception. This, in turn, gives it access to unrivalled deal-flow and ideas and the ability to be the matchmaker of choice when it comes to product solutions.

2020 was a “reboot “ year for the firm and gave it the chance to look deep into the business and assess gaps, which of course led to identifying growth opportunities. It extensively used the year to enhance its capabilities across various offerings, keeping in mind the evolving needs and future expectations of its clients.

Explains Singh, ” We scaled up our Investment solutions and family office offerings as well as our direct equities capabilities. We made senior level appointments across these areas, reorganized the team internally, and have rolled out reinvigorated propositions on all of these offerings. We also launched our new growth lever of “Wealth lending” this year, which has long been a gap area for us. With this, we aim to capitalize on our expertise in select sectors to build a lending book that further cements our client relationships across segments”.

On top of the eye-popping growth and diversification of India’s technological sector, there’s a similarly exciting digital transformation going on at Avendus itself. The firm’s entire wealth platform recently received an upgrade in the form of cutting-edge analytics, intuitive digital interfaces, and smart reporting. The end-goal is an elevated client experience as well as a vastly expanded toolkit for its advisors and relationship managers.

Top talent
From its relatively modest beginning, Avendus Wealth has now grown to over 100 employees. True to its principles of selectivity – it’s a resonant theme throughout the organization – it prizes talent, frankness, and intellectual rigor above all else in its approach to recruitment.

Explains Singh: “We are very non-hierarchical. Anybody can talk to anyone and people will listen to your ideas – though it naturally helps if you’re making sense! Managers here like people who have spunk, who don’t shy away from championing a view and backing it up with well-researched evidence.”

The firm’s enduring sense of independence also stretches beyond its internal culture and into its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) mission. Avendus has given grants to over 10,000 beneficiaries, including Industree Foundation, an NGO whose sole focus is tackling poverty and empowering women through entrepreneurial training. It also supports Swayam Shikshan Prayog, an NGO that is “creating” dairy and agri women entrepreneurs in the hinterlands of the state of Maharashtra.

As Singh puts it, “In terms of CSR, we wanted to stay close to our mission statement which is to be close to entrepreneurs. So, what better than nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit of India, especially of its women?”

Disclaimer
This message is not an offer (or solicitation of an offer) to buy or sell the securities or instruments that may be mentioned.

Avendus Wealth Management Pvt Limited (“AWM”) or its affiliates may have a relationship with entities discussed in this communication. AWM or its affiliates may act as a principal or market maker of the securities or instruments mentioned or may act as an advisor to (or seek to advise) the issuer. The data contained in a communication may be obtained from a variety of sources and may be subject to change. Avendus Wealth Management Pvt Ltd and its affiliates disclaim all liability for the information, including without limitation, any express or implied representations or warranties for information or errors contained in, or omissions from, the information. Avendus Wealth Management Pvt Limited and its affiliates, employees and officers shall not be liable for any loss or liability suffered by you resulting from the provision to you of the information or your use or reliance in any way on the information. The information contained in this communication is not tax, legal, financial, or accounting advice. The views of the author may differ from others at AWM. No investment decision should be made in reliance on such material, which is condensed and incomplete, does not include all risk factors or other matters that may be material, does not consider individual investment objectives, financial conditions, or needs, and is not a personal recommendation or investment advice or a basis to consider AWM to be a fiduciary or other type of advisor.”

*Data as of March end 2021

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This is a sponsored article from Avendus.

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