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ASK-Raymond James mulls retail thrust in India

Mumbai-based financial services group ASK-Raymond James (ASK-RJ) plans to offer stock-broking, portfolio management and other financial services through a nation-wide franchisee network, supported by state-of-the-art Internet and Intranet technologies

agencyfaqs! News Bureau

Mumbai-based financial services group ASK-Raymond James (ASK-RJ) plans to offer stock-broking, portfolio management and other financial services through a nation-wide franchisee network, supported by state-of-the-art Internet and Intranet technologies.
Commenting on developments in the Indian financial services market, John Band, chief executive officer ASK-RJ said, "We believe that the time is just right to enter the retail market. Our plan is to implement Raymond James' hugely successful US formula in India
as well. Of 1,700 Raymond James offices in USA, 1,500 are run by franchisees who act as partners in progress."
Currently, ASK-RJ manages and advises around Rs 350 crore of resident and off-shore funds.
Speaking on the current needs of the retail investor, Anand Tandon, head of brokerage, ASK-RJ said, "The barrage of conflicting advice that investors receive from television, newspapers, magazines and untrained intermediaries is intensified by the Internet.
Investors need reassurance that they are deploying their funds sensibly. Rather than 'hot tips', clients need a balance of risk and reward appropriate to their personal circumstances. Properly trained advisors are needed to deliver personalised service."
ASK-RJ plans to set up around 20 outlets over the next 18 months, mainly in the larger cities and metros. Future expansion will include smaller cities and towns. To speed this roll-out ASK-RJ has plans to enter into affiliations and joint ventures with regional brokers who have existing client bases.
ASK-RJ will provide support to the franchisee network, which will market to the final customer. The actual client relationships will remain with the franchisees.
The central pool of services will include clearing services, technology support, marketing and product support, training, research and compliance. The group's portfolio management service will be available through the same franchisee network.
ASK-RJ plans to build up computer-to-computer links between franchisees anywhere in the country, the BSE, the NSE and the ASK-RJ head office. The same system will also service non-resident Indians. One of the key elements of the ASK-RJ system is the risk management component, the same one which is used by major stock exchanges like the BSE.
The system allows on-line real-time tracking of risk, increasing safety for customers and brokers.
"We feel that sub-brokers can add a lot of value to the investment process, provided they have proper training and support. Our business model involves using the Internet and other technologies to support franchisees. By contrast, many of our competitors aim to use the Internet to by-pass sub-brokers altogether," says Tandon.
ASK-RJ's Internet focus will be on improving information flows to franchisees and their clients. On-line trading will also be available to direct clients who do not require investment advice.
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