If you want to book an airline ticket, what would you do: would you search for flights in the Jet Airways site, then move onto the Indigo site and then to the Go Air site and so on? Or would you log into a site like makemytrip.com, which offers you a choice across all these three and more? Now, if there were two such aggregator sites (or open architecture to use some jargon), one of which offered all these choices on a mobile app as well as on a desktop version and the other which restricted itself to only a desktop version, which one would you prefer? This principle applies across all verticals: think of buying movie tickets - individual sites of PVR, Cinemax, BIG Cinemas, Inox and so on, or an open architecture platform like bookmyshow.com?
OFA - a great way for IFAs to get digitally enabled
That's what is really interesting about OFA (Omni Financial Advisor) - an open architecture transaction enabled fund platform covering 31 leading AMCs (all fund houses that are on the NSE platform), on a single mobile app - which incidentally can be white labelled to make it your mobile app for your clients.
Let me break this down to make sure we focus on each of these pieces adequately:
Open architecture: OFA covers all 31 AMCs whose funds are available on the NSE platform. And, as more AMCs come onto NSE, OFA's suite will automatically increase as it rides on the NSE platform for transaction execution
Transaction enabled: You can execute all transactions that are available on the NSE platform, on the OFA mobile app
Mobile app - OFA is as mobile as you are, because it is a mobile app that can be downloaded on any Android smartphone.
White labelling - OFA allows you to white label the front end with your own brand, logo and colours, and then allows you to offer this app to your clients for transaction confirmations - on an app with your brand.
OFA is Shubhchintak ver 2.0
OFA is the all new avatar of Shubchintak - Axis MF's ambitious initiative to digitally enable IFAs and help enhance IFAs' client engagement. Version 1.0 was open architecture, was desktop friendly and the emphasis was on promoting financial planning as the way to engage with clients in a more holistic manner. OFA - which is Shubhchintak version 2.0, is dramatically different in its focus. Its aim is simple - to get you to become digitally enabled in a flash - in the way you want - which is through a mobile app, with an emphasis on what most IFAs are currently focusing on - which is superior transaction execution. That's not to say that financial planning, business analytics and all the rest of Shubhchintak 1.0 have been abandoned - they continue in the desktop mode. What's added on as an overlay is OFA - which allows you to execute transactions from anywhere, on your mobile phone, across schemes of 31 fund houses.
Shri Harsha - Axis MF's point man for digital initiatives including Shubhchintak breaks down the components of what typically goes into a platform into four aspects: P - Planning, E - Engagement, T - Transactions and R - Reporting. Shubhchintak version 1.0 put a lot of emphasis on P and E. OFA has a very sharp focus on the T aspect. Judging by the spirited debate on MFU vs BSE vs NSE - all of which focus on transaction execution, OFA's focus seems to be where IFAs are currently tuned in. In that sense, version 2.0 seems extremely practical and user friendly. Get started with your digital journey where you see the most visible short term benefits - and then take it from there: that's the new mantra that's driving Shubhchintak version 2.0
Digital onboarding - exactly as we teach MF onboarding
We keep saying that onboarding clients into mutual funds the right way is very important. We tell ourselves that the best way to get investors comfortable with the complex world of market linked mutual funds is to start with liquid funds, and let them experience convenience and superior returns straight away. Only then should we take them gradually into more complex and higher risk products - which we know are essential for wealth creation, but which they will not sign up for on day 1. In much the same way, I believe OFA can be a very good initiation into the world of platforms for IFAs. Once you get comfortable with transaction execution and you see the benefits of carrying the NSE platform in your pocket through OFA, you will perhaps be a lot more willing and eager to explore what else a fund platform can offer you. Over time, you may warm up to the financial planning, business analytics, CRM and other solutions that the composite OFA+Shubhchintak platform offer you.
Having seen the demo of OFA, I must say it is really simple and convenient. Harsha and his team have clearly worked hard on creating a very simple and intuitive user interface - completely decluttered, sharply focused on transactions. Ease of use, we know, is a big influencer in getting people warmed up to any new idea. OFA has clearly been developed with this insight in mind.
What's in it for Axis?
Shubhchintak and OFA do not pose any obligations on IFAs to route any transactions to Axis MF - in that sense, it is genuinely open architecture within the world of mutual funds. The annual cost remains the same as with version 1.0 - Rs.6,000 per annum. You need to add another Rs.3,000 per annum towards the subsidized annual fee to NSE. That's a total of Rs. 9,000 per annum for an open architecture platform that allows white labelling. Not a bad proposition at all, I would imagine!
I guess the question many people have around Axis' decision to go open architecture is what's in it for Axis? Why are they absolutely fine with their platform being used to transact in competitors' funds? My hunch is that going down the trodden path of an Axis only platform would perhaps not have made the kind of impact that a game-changing decision of going open architecture will do. And with OFA, if Axis does succeed in truly digitally enabling a large number of IFAs, it would have done these IFAs a service that will perhaps earn goodwill and loyalty that few other initiatives can. At an annual cost of Rs. 6,000 for the Shubhchintak platform along with OFA, it is clearly heavily subsidized and yet not offered free - a sensible way to get serious IFAs to become digitally enabled at a very low cost.
Embracing platforms is the need of the hour for IFAs - and if OFA, with its simplicity, mobility and open architecture stance enables IFAs to take a convenient first step towards platforms, that would indeed be a wonderful outcome. But, will the goodwill that can come from this outcome, drive more business towards Axis' fund range over the medium to long term, and thus justify the commercials of this entire initiative? Maybe. Maybe not. But then, so many IFA training and development initiatives run by so many fund houses face the same challenge - of not being able to quantify a cost-benefit equation. The benefit really comes from strengthening the IFA fraternity and catalysing their growth, for the wider benefit of the fund industry. OFA seems to me to be an initiative that will go a long way in digitally enabling many IFAs who are sitting on the fence right now, not sure of how to get digitally enabled although somewhere at the back of their minds, they acknowledge the need to become digitally enabled.
What about other platforms?
From an IFA's perspective, the OFA+Shubhchintak platform is one of the many that you should consider, before deciding which one is right for you. As we mentioned in our inaugural piece in Platform Point (How do I choose the right platform for me?), you need to consider what you really want and then find a solution that is the best fit for you.
Some IFAs are already digitally enabled and have not only developed integrated transaction enabled websites for their investors, but have also created mobile apps for their clients to transact from. On the other end of the spectrum are IFAs who haven't yet taken their first step towards digitally enabling their business. If you count yourself among those who haven't yet taken a step towards digitally enabling your business, take a look at OFA.
Some FAQs from Team Shubhchintak for those who are interested in OFA:
What are the prerequisites to use OFA (Omni Financial Advisor) platform?
Valid ARN No.& working on your Code
Empanelment with Axis AMC
OFA Platform Registration - www.shubhchintak.me
NSE NMFII Registration - https://www.nsenmf.com/
Create IINs for your investors
Integration of NSE and OFA on the Partner Portal
How can I start using OFA App?
Visit Google Play / Store in your Android Phone
Choose OFA Advisor
Download the App on your Android Phone (should be more than 4.4 version)
Use the same login credentials given by OFA for your Partner Portal
OTP will be sent to you, post that you can access the App.
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