In the 1960s, and 1970s till even the 1990s there were many animals in the BFSI’s intermediation space. At the top end were of course the ‘main’ brokers who were members of The Stock Exchange, Mumbai (now famously called BSE).

The lesser animals were called sub-brokers – who went to meet the clients and made them invest in equities. They would come to your house/ office to take/ give physical delivery of shares, cheques, etc. and also get the shares transferred in your name.

A lesser animal was the guy who would do company fixed deposits, LIC policies, national savings certificates, ppf, etc. – and was at the bottom end of the chain.

The mutual funds were born (effectively) in 1993-4 and the lowest animal was now being wooed to sell units of mutual funds.

Now all the low end animals who sold mutual funds, fixed deposits, etc. would not be earning much and were not too well educated too. They would be unemployed, unemployable, or simply too lazy. For them even talking to a branch manager of a Hdfc or Shriram Transport finance was a big news. If the branch manager spoke to them it was an achievement, and if he offered them coffee they would write it down in the diary. The reason why they came to the office was manifold – deposit the cheques, call up their wives to ask if somebody had called, tell her that they were now sitting in an airconditioned office, fill up their water bottles with cold water from the cooler, and occasionally even use the cafetaria if one of the employees was good enough to invite them for lunch (they carried their own dabba, but they got to use the cafetaria).

Now come to the 2000s. The sub-broker had become a broker in some cases (when a card was only Rs. 50L in NSE vs. 400 L in BSE). Some of them had become a PMS owner (they ran their own PMS which was say Rs. 50 crores), drove their own cars (Merc, BMW, Lincoln, Jaguar are the cars in which I have traveled – belonging to IFAs), and some of them had AUM more than some of the smaller AMCs. Difficult to believe? Well, come to Mumbai. I am sure this is true for Delhi too, but I do not know them.

Now when you see a Rs. 35 L (head of sales CTC) trying to create an incentive system for a guy who has a networth of Rs. 20 crores, it is a nice struggle. There are IFAs who have a Rs. X crore Home Loan – and the business head of the H L company had to go to the IFAs house to disburse the loan. He was a Hni customer you see. Incidentally he was an IFA. (I just changed the amount to X – the figure is a give away number!).

Amazing transformation of the ‘agent’ – and when you know people in all the spectrum of agents it is nice to see the transformation. And the industry struggling to accept the change.

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