Bootstrapped Unovest aims to make direct investment plans simpler
Fintech company Unovest offers investors a single platform to invest in direct plans of mutual funds, do goal-based investing, and track and seek investment advice and support.
Founder: Vipin Khandelwal
Year it was founded: 2016
Funding raised: Bootstrapped
Based out of: Mumbai
When 29-year-old Suresh Sharma wanted to invest in mutual funds, he would look at different fund options. However, he was never sure of where to invest and the about the performance of his funds. Hailing from a finance background it made sense for him to invest in direct funds, so he made a better “alpha” - essentially returns on investment or performance.
Enter Unovest and Vipin Khandelwal, 38, the Founder and CEO of investment platform Unovest.
“Too much money has been lost chasing short-term returns/performance, in other words, alpha. By using simple tools, investors can achieve another significant alpha. We call it behavioural alpha. It is a low hanging fruit that most investors tend to ignore,” he says.
It was to change this that Vipin started Unovest, a platform where investors can invest in direct plans of mutual funds, do goal-based investing, and track and seek investment advice and support.
He adds that with Unovest an investor can achieve this alpha with low cost, low risk, low churn investment advice, and unlimited support. This can make a difference of a few extra percent of returns in the portfolio, and give a boost to the power of compounding.
Working as a SEBI-registered investment adviser and personally having worked with over 500 clients, Vipin realised that there wasn’t a single platform that would invest in direct plans or zero commission plans for all mutual funds.
“One had to go to each and every mutual fund website to make a transaction or at best use one of the four registrars. This was very inconvenient for the investor,” Vipin says. Seeing this gap, he started Unovest.
In a matter of days, Vipin says there were more than 600 signups wanting to know when the platform launched. On Unovest, a stream of relevant content enables investors to filter out signals from noise, and prevents them from taking a short-term approach.
There also is enough content to help one understand the right ways and means of investing. A user can sign up for a free account on the Unovest platform. S/he can also upload the existing mutual fund portfolio and view quick actionable reports and analysis. S/he can map the investments to various financial goals and track progress of those goals.
The investor can further learn the current portfolio composition, allocations, and portfolio returns in an instant. For tax purposes, the capital gain/loss report comes in handy.
Even investing is a simple process. After inputting the CAN or Common Account Number on Unovest, s/he can start transacting in direct plans of mutual funds. Direct plans are no-commission plans and, coupled with the right advice about which funds to invest in, can provide an instant boost to portfolio returns.
Transactions in existing investments (such as switch to zero commission plans) are possible along with buying absolutely new funds – one time or in SIP format. With a premium account, one can get family portfolio tracking, unparalleled support and portfolio insights to find answers to the following questions: How are my investments doing? Have I chosen the right funds? Am I diversified enough? Do I need to make changes in my portfolio?
“With our handpicked and ready model portfolios, s/he can choose to invest for various investment periods matching the risk tolerance,” Vipin says.
One can also go for personalised advisory services, where a dedicated advisor understands the complete profile and helps build a plan that can be actioned to achieve specified goals. There is unlimited one-to-one support and advice with personalised services.
“Do-it-yourself investors interested in taking the guesswork out of investment decisions and building up their own investment quotient can take up our premium online course – Money Master,” Vipin says.
Unovest has over 3,000 registered users, and charges a fee for advice and the tools provided. The team claims to be tracking over Rs 400 crore in assets, and expects to double this figure by March 2018.
“This is after a massive cleanup of inactive accounts, something we keep doing regularly as a best practice,” Vipin says.
Different from a robo-advisory
The team claims that they aren't a full robo-advisor. Vipin says they use technology and algorithm, while advice is handpicked by individuals. It works as a combination of technology and human intervention.
To understand and serve the customers better, Vipin adds that they have done things that prima facie appear unscalable. For example, personally handholding the customer through and through, answering every query, etc.
“In fact, we wanted to experience how the customer thinks and acts. Today, we have a much better idea of what the investor goes through, what s/he wants and how we can help,” Vipin says.
The initial challenges included finding the right capabilities and resources. Vipin says the industry still operates in a 90s mindset, especially from a technology point of view and so everything the team wanted to build required 10x more effort and resources.
According to YourStory Research, there were close to 50 Indian early-stage startups in this sector by 2016. A Deloitte research paper states that the top 11 firms in this segment globally have seen explosive growth since market entry, managing close to $19 billion Assets Under Management (AUM) in 2014.
As of last year, close to $620 million was invested in financial management platforms, and this year $200 million has already been invested. Other financial management platforms include Rajasthan-based Goalwise. There also is Wixifi, which is an investment platform.
But Unovest, currently bootstrapped, has his plan clear: it is focused on helping investors think long term and generate behavioural alpha.
“We want to use a mix of content, data, technology, and human advisory to enable the investor to achieve this alpha. Currently, we are offering only mutual funds for transactions. We would like to add other investment instruments too. We hope to make good investing a habit for the investor. This simple step can bring additional returns and, not to forget, peace of mind. Our big goal is to serve 1 million customers in the next few years,” Vipin concludes.