Taru Singhal,Head of IFA Distribution

Your top 5 tips for advising NRIs

With over 2 million Non-Resident Indians (NRI’s) who have settled here in the UAE, it’s no surprise that NRI’s represent one of the most important market segments in the country. As a community, not only do they possess great earning potential but they also account for the largest remittance market in the UAE and are known for their commitment to saving for future life events such as their children’s education, a wedding or a new business. Taru Singhal, Head of IFA Distribution brings you the top 5 things you can do to be a NRI adviser of choice in the local market.

Understanding the NRI market

The NRI community continues to be a hugely important market segment for Zurich as four in every 10 of our customers are from India. Experience with our customer base and some of the country’s best NRI advisers combined with the fact that I myself am an NRI, has given me the opportunity to understand the specific financial needs of this unique market and am happy to share this with you.

How to become the NRI Adviser of choice

  • Revisit the customer’s financial objectives

    Like with any customer, it is important to break down financial aspirations. However as Indians living in the Middle East often have a strong sense of their life goals, it is key to help them visualise these in a realistic sense through investments – what do they want to achieve? How much do they need to save? How much can they commit to now? This together with the effect of compound growth and inflation helps to complete the picture.

    Life insurance on the other hand can be a difficult conversation to have given the inclination to avoid discussion around death and critical illness. Utilising claims statistics and customer testimonials to create awareness of the importance of protection is vital particularly given that protection claims are prevalent amongst most NRI’s still in their 40’s. Rajen’s story of overcoming cardiovascular disease is one that is a must watch for NRI clients.

  • Demonstrate local and home country expertise

    NRI customers are well informed about investment options and value experienced advisers that can demonstrate a high level of expertise and offer unbiased guidance. Keeping up to date on economic indicators in India will also go a long way in establishing credibility. As an example how will the standard 5% inflation rate in India affect their investment or savings plan and what strategies can be put in place to stay ahead of inflation?

    Having some basic knowledge regarding taxation structures in India is also an advantage. Whilst customers should be encouraged to take professional tax advice for on-shore and in-country asset liabilities, providing some initial guidance to NRI customers will build trust.

  • Discuss options upfront, because life happens

    As NRI customers appreciate full disclosure and transparency, it is important to discuss various investment options and associated limitations and advantages of each.

    It is critical for NRI customers to consider contingency planning so that they can continue to meet their commitments in the event of negative events such loss of employment, reduction in salary. Equally, positive life events such as birth of children, getting married or a financial bonus should be considered to ensure their financial plans can evolve as they do.

    Ensuring Indian born customers hold funds in a local bank account to take care of emergency situations is as important as a long term investment or protection plan. Similarly having a will in place and a designated guardian for young children is an important consideration for customers in this segment.

  • Offer ongoing assistance to keep plans on track

    Customers value the relationship with their Financial Advisor and often look for reassurances on past decisions and for advice on any changes in circumstance. It is for this reason that ongoing advice is key - not only does it provide the best way to engage and build loyalty, but also ensures that both investment and protection plans continue to meet the long-term needs of customers. Reviewing market trends and the performance of financial indices can be a good way of helping customers benchmark their returns and keep their plans on track.

  • Self-investment for NRI customer confidence

    As the Middle East continues to make a huge investment in professional standards, regulations are expected to become more stringent and NRI customers demand better financial advice standards, it’s becoming increasingly important to invest in building your personal brand.

    Creating a strong profile not only involves acquiring professional industry qualifications and establishing affiliations with professional bodies for knowledge and insights but also building a solid presence on social media. These will help build adviser credibility and ultimately improved confidence and customer engagement.

How NRI advisers can make a difference

As a dominant market segment that continues to grow, Indians living in the Middle East are an important part of the local community. NRI advisers should take the time to understand the financial goals of NRI customers, develop the right expertise, be forward thinking, provide ongoing advice and be transparent in order to build trust and gain credibility.

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