Best for investment research in India 2020
Kotak Mahindra Bank
Kotak Mahindra Bank has many standout characteristics, but a key reason for its enduring success, including in private banking, lies in its timing. It seems able to offer clients what they want, just before they know they want it.
In terms of scale, it is by far India’s leading wealth manager, with total assets under management from private and priority banking customers at the end of 2019 of $54 billion.
But size is a by-product of decades of careful development and a desire to deliver world-class products to clients. Kotak has managed wealth for its private banking clients for more than 20 years, and was one of the first universal lenders in India to roll out family office advisory services.
Its ability, under the current leadership of its wealth management chief executive Oisharya Das, to remain at the head of the class year after year in a highly competitive market is widely admired by its peers. They point to its ability to marry a sizeable physical presence with a high-quality digital platform.
Kotak has private banking offices in 15 cities including Mumbai and Bangalore, catering to the needs of over 4,400 families, including roughly half of India’s 100 richest families.
It offers estate planning and trusts via a wholly owned subsidiary, Kotak Mahindra Trusteeship Services Limited. Philanthropy services that focus on impact investing and volunteering opportunities are offered by Kotak Investment Advisors Limited (KIAL) in coordination with external experts.
Its NexGen Connect programme is aimed at providing millennial clients with advice on how to invest and keep abreast of digital developments and new asset classes.
It delivers daily market updates and investment strategy and portfolio reports to clients – particularly useful during the coronavirus pandemic, with much of the country locked down.
And as ever, it never sits still. Its products and research team focuses on a host of asset classes, from equities and mutual funds to derivatives and portfolio management services. Its open architecture process ensures that every product is screened, analyzed and short-listed.
The latest grand idea is Kotak Optimus, a multi-asset, multi-portfolio platform that delivers a discretionary asset allocation portfolio to high and ultra-high net-worth clients offered by KIAL. It is based on an algorithm that divides customers into two risk profiles – moderate and aggressive – and creates portfolios attuned to their needs.
Optimus is simple to use – it offers one-click access to multiple fund managers and eliminates multiple documentation – and cleaves to a general global shift toward discretionary asset allocation.
The platform also adjusts to daily shifts in the prices of assets, commodities and securities, offering yet more proof of Kotak’s ability to predict and adapt to key changes in the local and global investment environment.
The financial group is also ahead of the curve in other ways. When Blackstone and Bangalore-based Embassy Property joined forces to launch India’s first listed real estate investment trust in March 2019, raising $690 million, Kotak’s private banking team was chosen to cover the Reit’s entire HNW portion.
The bank went to work criss-crossing the country, educating India’s wealthiest families about the benefits of investing in property trusts. It worked – and the only clients that didn’t buy during the listing process piled in fast to profit from the secondary market.