Mohammad Danish: Assuring top Assets with best investor-friendly operating model

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Based out of DIFC, UAE, and regulated by DFSA (Dubai Financial Services Authority), Branford Capital is an External Financial Advisory firm that serves and advises sophisticated private clients and family offices from around the world. It provides unbiased advise and a bouquet of financial solutions to private and institutional investors.

World Business Outlook had the privilege to learn more about the whole new approach to wealth advisory that the financial firm is incorporating. Founded in 2020 with a core team of professional bankers from various financial institutions, Branford Capital is today capable of providing access to a multi-banking platform that caters to the specific needs of each of its clients.

Mohammad Danish, the CEO and Founder spoke to us about his focus towards adopting a fresh and distinctive approach for investments. He brings with him, over 17 years of experience from various multinational financial groups like CitiBank, Standard Chartered Bank, Mashreqbank and more. The following are the key talking points of our email interaction with the founder of the multinational asset management group:

Mohammad Danish, CEO and Founder, Branford Capital

Working in the banking industry on various senior positions like AVP and VP in top tier retail and private banking space in relationship management and leadership roles for decades with experienced industry veterans and the long tenure coupled with an established track record, sparked my entrepreneurial streak and desire to work independently, giving rise to the formation of an independent advisory firm- Branford Capital. I wanted to work with my closest clients on their own terms and space, providing them independent investment advice and asset management services from multiple banks and providers as opposed to be tied down to one bank and provider. I realized  that by doing this, I would be more capable of being in a leaner outfit than banks and have lower overhead costs. As a result, my clients can be benefitted through a more competitive pricing and product proposition.

BCL was born with the passion and drive to provide bespoke asset management services to high net worth and ultra-high net worth clients with a more sharper pricing and product proposition.

At BCL our main goal continues to be around involving our customers, employees and our larger ecosystem of stakeholders to identify shared values and areas where our firm can make a difference. We strongly believe that Investor preferences are changing and  It’s time to adapt our products and services with client-focused outcomes. So Instead of creating a product and trying to find ways it could make our customers lives better, we start by looking at what customers really need and then work toward meeting that need. Focusing first on the experience rather than simply rushing ahead to just “solve the problem” leads to faster, more successful solutions and results in cementing our relationship with our end clients. By offering flexibility and a highly personalized client service; a wider range of diversification options than a traditional bank, including alternative investments, lending solutions and customized structured products;  Coupled with full independence and an overview of different service providers across various custodian banks, asset management, securities, we do provide high quality strategic advice on choosing between products and solutions and offer asset allocation advice that, first and foremost, benefits the client.

Today BCL is known as a company that provides our clients specialist and individualistic financial services through a robust team of advisors and relationship managers.

Starting a business requires a high tolerance for risk, comfort with change, a ruthless focus on results, lots of energy, high expectations of everyone around you and the ability to ignore negativity; Top of my mind the two key strategies that have led to the rise of this rather small and new age external asset management firm ( we started up at the start of the pandemic) to be the fastest growing EAM

Establishing A Routine Of Accountability

Our company gathers at 10.00a.m. every workday morning for a 15-minute morning huddle, during which we cover the markets and we share what is on our calendar that day, our progress toward meeting our individual quarterly goals, whether we need help with anything and the main thing we will accomplish that day. I do believe that these meetings do several important things: First, they make people feel heard. Secondly, they hold individuals accountable for doing their part to make the company successful. Finally, they are an early warning system for problems that need to be addressed.

Identifying And Making Use Of Our Differences

The most important thing we learned was to take stock of who we are as individuals and use this information to relate to one another in more productive ways and, more importantly, to put the right people in the right seats.

Growing and running an EAM businesses, you are continually faced with a range of challenges. As a business grows, different problems and opportunities demand different solutions – what worked a year ago might now be not the best approach. Recognizing and overcoming the common pitfalls associated with growth is essential if your business is to continue to grow and thrive. Crucially, you need to ensure that the steps you take today don’t themselves create additional problems for the future. Effective leadership will help you make the most of the opportunities, creating sustainable growth for the future of our business.

Some of the experiences that can be pooled in which help me in running the firm is to have an optimal operating model across client segments, channels, products and platforms that can effectively and efficiently predict and address the changing needs and demands of their clients (both institutional and individual).

Our product offering is relatively uncommon in the Middle East, where most asset managers are focused on plain vanilla Equity & Bond Funds. Structured Products, depending on the investor’s preferences, are available to minimize risk exposure, typically offer some form of capital protection and in other cases can offer a higher yield in sideways markets.

BCL has a bright future in the EAM space given that this market will continue to flourish, as an increase of assets under management rather than a mushrooming of new players and the reason I say this is because BCL ticks the below boxes well

  1. Independence: Clients demand independent product selection. Independence is in our DNA at BCL. Working in a multi-custody context and untied to the revenue targets of a single bank, we are uniquely positioned to advise the clients to identify the offering that fits best to their needs.
  2. Client Trust: A trusting and long-lasting partnership between our business and clients is also at the core of this business: essential in critical moments like recent market turmoil. Clients are becoming more sophisticated and will continue to put pressure on managers’ fees, but as EAMs are able to react fast to changing client needs due to their small size.
  3. Consolidation in Banking: M&A activities and banks’ cost containment exercises will continue to ‘fertilize’ new EAM structures. In fact, consolidation will continue; Some banks will continue to improve their cost/income ratio, moving to automate services for the HNWI segment, reducing its perceived quality. This will lead to this segment being underserved: herein lies the ‘honeypot’ for business like ours (especially HNWIs with assets between USD 5 and 10 million).
  4. Professionalism: bringing a professional attitude to customer centric relationships is what will propel our business into the future.
  5. Open Architecture: We as a business are very agile, with open architecture and lean infrastructure based on the offerings of depositary banks and tech providers. The relationship between EAMs and banks is more cooperative than competitive as they rely on the platform, expertise and resources of custodian banks to serve their end-clients.

Indeed, the competition amongst custody banks and that amongst providers help EAM business like ours select the best operational setup based on a best-of-breed approach, easily adaptable to changing market conditions. I do believe our business model will continue to benefit in the near future: the increased standardization of data interfaces due to continuous investment from depositary banks and from techs partners that will provide us with more and more options, making for easier data exchange, which will in turn lower future operational costs. 

With UAE leading the world in attracting more millionaires, we at BCL look forward to leveraging this opportunity to capitalize on growing interest and forging new economic partnerships which will be paramount to our success story  as the emirate writes a new chapter in their books.

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