By Arwa Sultanali
Jaimit Doshi, Marketing Head of Kotak Securities Ltd, talks of technology changing the dynamics of share-trading and how educating customers about investing in the stock market forms the thrust of his marketing strategy
Q] There is talk of another slowdown towards the end of the year. How has the experience been for Kotak Securities on the whole, given the low in market sentiments?
Whenever there is a raging bull run, we see customers coming in. When you see IPOs coming through, a lot of new customers enter the market. Obviously, there has been a dearth of IPOs, so what you will see is retail participation. New customers coming through will always be slightly lower when sentiments are not so good. But it’s not like it’s looking bad. It is just largely rangebound, thanks to the news on the global platform. When IPOs dry up, that whole retail excitement tends to go missing.
Q] What do you recommend to customers when markets are down?
If you want long term capital wealth creation, equity as an asset class can’t be missed. In a raging bull market, you’re trying to open as many accounts as possible, trying to maximize the potential that is there but when markets get range bound, you get more into educating people. We came up with a book called, ‘Everything you wanted to know about stock market investing’ and it has been a No. 1 seller. It says, ‘Look, it’s not that complicated.’ What we are looking at in India is 2 per cent penetration for demat holdings. For a growing economy, this is a pretty low number. In a range-bound market, when people don’t come in, we keep educating the customer to come in the right way, come in with a long term horizon, come in thinking that there is a certain science to it, and come in thinking that there are certain tools that you have whether it is fundamental or technical analysis. Come in understanding these tools, and you tend to stay for a longer term. It’s not like you open a shutter and there is a queue outside as in the case of IPOs. The kind of customers who do get it tend to be solid customers, as opposed to those who just come in saying that “There’s an IPO, let me get in otherwise I might miss the bus.” The mindset of customers should be right.
Q] How has technology changed the business of financial institutions?
A lot of our customers are getting tech-savvy. Earlier, a typical trader would sit and give orders over the phone. He would be 35, 40 or 50 years old, not conversant with technology. Now, even older people are getting into technology. One of the things we introduced is a mobile stock trader which is basically a phone app which helps you access stock markets live, get absolutely realtime feeds. Thanks to it, we are seeing a lakh plus downloads. This is a massive number, given the low base we are talking about. We knew traders would come, but even derivative orders are coming in from higher-end evolved traders. They are moving from their computer screens to trading from their phones.
Q] How do you get new customers?
You have to provide a lot of opportunities for customers to come in. If the computer is not accessible, you still have a phone in your pocket. If you are going out shopping or are at the workplace - typically a small town Indian owns a shop which may not have a computer – you pick up your mobile phone and trade. This access allows them to interact with the constantly moving market. More interaction makes the customer only more comfortable.
Q] Can you tell us a little about your book – ‘Everything you wanted to know about stock market investing’?
This book became a bestseller because it is extremely simple. A lot of caricatures make it simple and easy, and the language is also pretty simple. At the end of every chapter, there is a summary. Then we have a workbook, actually a sort of exercise. The workbook helps you check details about your cash flow or smart cash flow, and whether it is reinvested periodically. We’ve got very good response to this book internally as well as at bookstores. When we give it to new customers, they are quite happy. It has got good reviews, even in some financial papers.
Q] Has this book in a way promoted Kotak Securities?
Yes, in a way. But that’s not the primary objective. A lot of this stuff is basic stuff. Of course, towards the end of the book there is a coupon for readers who may want to open an account. But nowhere have I overtly gone and sold Kotak Securities. Our belief is that people will buy this book because of the credibility of Kotak Securities as a brand in understanding stock markets.
Q] How are your marketing spends divided for various platforms?
A significant chunk goes online, and another chunk goes on education. I have a Facebook page that does not sell Kotak Securities, but the magic of investing and provides knowledge about investing. Facebook is a place for people to interact, and the brand only gives a platform for like-minded people to interact. This is the only Facebook page that says “we’re listening”. You can scroll down the page and lodge a complaint, give feedback or talk to me. What is very heartening is that we get ideas online through Facebook – crowdsourcing in its true sense. You don’t even know if a person is your customer, but he has interacted with your brand. People look at brand recommendations online as well. In fact, our online initiative is to make sure that no question goes unanswered. We also have a Twitter feed for updates. There is a regulation too - you cannot put stock recommendations or sale recommendations online to an audience that you don’t know. This is only open to customers, on a private forum. We give more generic content, never direct stockspecific content. If someone says, ‘Hey, markets are down’, then I can explain markets are down because the dollar is weak or dollar is strong and interest rates are looking weak. But not “Markets are down, so go buy stocks”. Even on Twitter, if you have a stock-related query, you have to be our customer to get a response. We also educate people through YouTube, Slideshare and Twitter. We have done online campaigns on Rediff, Yahoo and Google itself aggregates its search.Slideshare is like a Powerpoint presentation, and educational. We use it as a tool and put links on Twitter and FB. On kotaksecurities.com, I can give specific advice to customers. Non-customers get generic information on markets. We give customers service in 10 languages. It builds a lot of affinity and comfort.
Q] In general, how are financial institutions winning clients online?
We believe in the financial category, there is a role for mass media and there is a role for online. Online allows you to understand a person’s mindset. So you can sell him the right product or take him through the journey. The online space has evolved a lot more because it is there for 365 days a year. You may have peaks and troughs in mass media, but online you will be there throughout.
Q] What are your on-ground and below-the-line activities?
We have sponsored the Bandra Festival. It is a high potential market and we have a branch in Bandra, but more importantly it is a good festival. There too, we have taken the ‘educate’ stand through sessions. We are trying to see if a fair can be used to spread awareness about stock market investing. At one of the sessions on Nov 22 at a bookstore in Bandra, we will talk about how a person should go about investing in a stock market. It is not specific to the book, but ties in with it – ‘You come, you see, you may or may not like it’. The Bandra festival attracts a certain bohemian crowd. We try to popularize the stock market there, and certain people say OK. Some get interested and so, it is optional. It comes out in a more natural environment as opposed to a sterilized environment.