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Private Equity

Published on: June 9, 2024, 8:11 p.m.
Spark PWM looks overseas to create more wealth
  • Ganashyam and Arpita: helping clients effectively manage and transfer wealth across generation; Photo: Sanjay Borade

By Lancelot Joseph. Executive Editor, Business India

Over the last decade, the wealth management industry (WMI) in India has experienced robust growth. According to the Securities & Exchange Board of India, this market has already raised $80 billion in assets under management (AUM) in India. 

“This is backed by the country’s increasing affluent segment that has created a sizeable customer base for wealth management and investment advisory services. Our culture of saving and investing has further fuelled the demand. Mass affluent and high net worth individuals (HNIs) are increasingly moving away from traditional asset classes such as fixed deposits, real estate and gold to focus on an asset allocation based approach that includes an increasing allocation to equities and opportunities in the rapidly growing alternative investments space”, explains Ganashyam S, MD & CEO, Spark PWM Private Limited, a subsidiary of Spark Capital Advisors (India) Limited, one of the fastest growing companies in the Indian wealth management landscape. It was formerly known as Spark Family Office & Investment Advisors (India) Private Limited.

The key promoters of Spark are Y. Ramarao (chairman & senior MD), Kapil Ramamurthy (part of the founding team) and Thyagesh Baba (based in Singapore). Spark Capital has organically expanded its offerings, culminating in over $10 billion worth of PE and M&A transactions across diverse sectors. Spark Capital ventured into building an institutional equities business in 2007 and pivoted it over 15 years to be India’s top ranking domestic institutional brokerage. In late 2022, Spark Capital divested that business to repurpose its focus and energies on the next phase of its journey.

As a logical extension to its DNA of understanding and working closely with promoters and using knowledge and research to differentiate and add value to clients, Spark Capital seeded its asset management business in 2018. Today, it has offerings across asset classes. Notable among these are the long-only equity offerings (PMS) and a structured credit fund (Category II AIF), with a solid track record across strategies. It also manages an Angel Fund (Category I AIF) and has recently received the approval for a mid-stage to late-stage PE fund (Category II AIF).

“Spark Private Wealth and Spark Capital are now focussing themselves to harness the compelling landscape of opportunity in financial services at the interplay of increasing private wealth with individuals and families, greater financialisation of savings and rapidly growing entrepreneurial wealth creation. Through Spark Private Wealth, it offers a holistic proposition that integrates Spark Group’s knowledge and research DNA, investment banking and asset management expertise to curate bespoke ideas and solutions along with helping clients in any of their investment banking related requirements,” says Arpita Vinay, MD & CEO, Spark PWM.

Spark PWM has a clientele of about 2,400 families and the firm has just crossed the AUM of Rs20,000 crore mark (May 2024) from Rs3,000 crore in 2023. With a team size that has increased five-fold to about 300 people, it operates from eight locations – Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Pune, and three satellite locations.

Transformative turn

Spark PWM’s growth trajectory took a transformative turn with the introduction of new leadership at the start of 2023. Under the strategic guidance of Vinay and Ganashyam, appointed as MD and co-CEO, the company has undergone a remarkable transformation evolution, emerging as an evolving leader in the Indian wealth management landscape.

Vinay has played a pivotal role alongside Ganashyam in driving the expansion and growth of Spark PWM. Their collaborative efforts have spearheaded the company’s trajectory, setting new avenues for the organisation. Vinay’s ability to seamlessly integrate her personal and professional pursuits underscores her multifaceted leadership style, making her a role model for aspiring women leaders in the industry. 

“Spark PWM specialises in serving affluent families, business owners, family offices, new age entrepreneurs, and CXOs, guiding them through the complexities of the financial landscape,” says Vinay, who is recognised for her leadership and innovation in the WMI circles. “The company’s mission is centred on facilitating the creation, preservation and transition of wealth across generations, offering a range of products and services to meet diverse needs”.

  • Spark PWM specialises in serving affluent families, business owners, family offices, new age entrepreneurs, and CXOs, guiding them through the complexities of the financial landscape

Spark Private Wealth is already 300-member strong, with some of the most seasoned private bankers and an experienced products & ideation team dropping anchor with the firm. A true to label open-architecture platform enables the team to offer best of breed solutions through some of the most experienced investment managers and domain specialists in the industry. Through the multi-family office proposition, the team is able to offer comprehensive portfolio monitoring and investment management (across multiple wealth and asset managers/advisors), structuring, estate planning and tax services to ultra HNI families ensuring complete alignment of interest.

“Anticipating substantial expansion, Spark PWM has attracted top-tier talent from the industry, boasting our current headcount of over 130 relationship managers (RMs) from a total staff of 300. This growth trajectory is a leap from a 60-member team in April 2023, showcasing the company’s ambition. We specialise in HNI with investible wealth of $1-5 million, focussing on the multi-family office solution to helping clients effectively manage and transfer wealth across generations,” says Ganashyam, who expects the company to break even by the next quarter, starting July 2024.

“It will be a monthly break-even, on all cost,” says Vinay. “So, at that scale and size, it will be amongst the first. It is also the proof of execution of the proposition being able to monetise over relationships”.

Vinay’s career journey is a transition from her early days at Tata Steel as an engineer to rising through the ranks in the wealth management sector, working for HSBC as head, premier banking, as well as MD and co-head, Centrum Wealth. Ganashyam started his career in management consulting with A F Ferguson & Co. He had a stint at Anand Rathi when it was starting up and was also briefly with ABN Amro Private Banking. Then he joined HSBC and rose to become the head, wealth management for the bank for India. He was co-head, Centrum Wealth, before joining Spark.

Asset management

It has an alternative investment fund (AIF) Specs Fund I, which closed at Rs255.5 crore with a portfolio IRR of 17 per cent. The AIF Specs Fund 2 is about Rs550 crore and will close by May 2024 (this figure may change by the end of this month). It has also received SEBI approval for angel funding, as also mid-stage-to-late-stage funding (called as pre-IPO funds). 

“Backed by a robust investment policy framework and leveraging extensive research and execution capabilities, we position ourselves at the forefront of identifying future-winning ideas,” says Deepan Kapadia, CIO, Spark PWM. “As part of Spark Capital’s ecosystem, the company goes beyond traditional wealth management, incorporating investment banking and asset management expertise into its offerings.” 

“The family office arrangement that we now have with Spark was set up by our late father,” observes Nehal Vakil, promoter family of Asian Paints. “He sat with the team to form an investment policy statement for our family and had the family office team devise a well-defined framework for all operational processes and advisory services provided by them. We were made aware of what our expectations should be from the family office and the Spark team has risen to the occasion and fulfilled those roles remarkably. They are sensitive to the needs and mindsets of my siblings and I so that we are all able to actively participate and be heard. One of us has had the added benefit of mentorship by the senior members of the team and that has helped them manage their responsibilities in the various roles they play. The team’s technical knowledge, a tight moral compass and a genuine understanding of our family and its dynamics has helped us stay together in our endeavour for sensible financial planning and growth”.

  • We have an ambitious target to achieve Rs1,00,000 crore AUM mark in the next five years

“The family office team has always made itself available to us and was a significant help when our father passed away quite suddenly,” she adds. “The transition during that time was challenging to say the least and their support in advisory and executory processes along with their understanding of our emotional state, was a blessing”.

“My family and I have a significant wealth management relationship with Spark and the relationship has been growing over time. We have had the opportunity to interact with several senior members of the team including their leadership. We have been impressed with the quality of the team and the capabilities and experience that they bring to the table. Their proposition is indeed comprehensive and the range of services they offer caters to the needs and requirements of families like ours. We find that the team has a sharp understanding of markets and we as investors have benefited from the quality of their advice and support,” describes Jay Bharat Mehta from the original promoter family of J B Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals.

“The team has been completely understanding my needs and requirements as defined by my brief to them,” says Piyush Pandey, eminent advertising professional and chief advisor, India, Ogilvy. “In fact, one of the senior members of their core team, Vaishvik Toprani has been handling my portfolio for almost two decades.  I have no hesitation in sharing that he understands the nature of my profession, which is that of a creative person and not someone who has a financial understanding of investments.  Vaishvik has stayed one step ahead of my needs and has shared his recommendations with me along with a reason why.”

On the overseas plans, the management is looking to open an office in Dubai on receiving DIFC licence. “We also have an ambitious target to achieve Rs1,00,000 crore AUM mark in the next five years,” says the chairman, who feels the WMI in India is all set for a steep growth trajectory which will alter the local wealth management market.

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