Waterfield Advisors provides advisory services to Ultra-High Net-Worth (UHNW) Families under two broad verticals; Family Office Services and Corporate Advisory Services. Led by its promoter and managing director Soumya Rajan, Waterfield has carved a niche for itself in what is a fast growing market built on the advisory needs of established wealthy business families as well as first generation entrepreneurs. Describing the journey so far, Soumya Rajan said that Waterfield has now reached an inflexion point from which the business is poised to grow exponentially.
The Family Office space is characterised by three emerging global trends - a growing number of high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth clients around the world, especially in the Asia-Pacific region; more affluent families seeking out experienced professionals to manage their wealth to fit their specific financial goals and risk tolerances; and ultra-affluent clients demanding professional and customised financial services. Globally, it is estimated that there are approx. 4000-5000 family offices of which only 3-5% are housed in Asia-Pacific, suggesting a significant growth potential over the next five to ten years for the Family Office format of wealth management services in the region.
According to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2015, the number of UHNW Families in India is estimated at approx. 2100 families. China has 5 times the number of UHNW families, further underlining the potential in the region. Waterfield Advisors sees significant opportunity to expand the reach of the services it offers this segment, both by attracting more families to its differentiated platform and by expanding its geographical coverage within the country. The firm currently has offices in Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai, but serves clients across the country.
Ms. Rajan said that the team of dedicated professionals representing Waterfield recognises that families are dealing with multiple issues around safeguarding their business legacy, the creation and preservation of wealth and the need to ensure good governance. “Our role is to be their trusted advisor as they navigate through these complex issues”, she stated. First and second generation entrepreneurs especially need help with planning for intergenerational wealth transfer, which involves deeply personal and complex decisions around business succession, legacy planning and philanthropy. Waterfield’s role is to assist them in formulating a framework for setting up and coordinating the right wealth structuring solutions, she pointed out.
Waterfield Advisors is an independent, impartial and completely client-focused family office – customising solutions for families. Waterfield’s ability to adapt to the wide range of needs that the firm’s clients represent is what gives the firm an edge. As a boutique advisory firm, Waterfield Advisors goes beyond traditional investments to explore the deeper and more sensitive areas of client engagement. Waterfield Advisors is neither aligned to any institution nor has its own products. Therefore, Waterfield’s clients always stand to benefit from independent and impartial advice, which is the central philosophy that drives it.
Explaining the idea at the core of creating Waterfield, Ms Rajan said that in addition to increasing product complexity and risk, the financial product distribution space is fraught with conflicts of interest between the product manufacturers like banks, mutual funds, insurance companies etc. and the distributors of these products. While financial advisory services are commonly available to the affluent, advice that is completely independent, free of any conflict of interest, and not aligned to any product manufacturer has not been so common in India.