“Though I am an Electronics Engineer by qualification, I had no clue what my career calling was. I got a hint during my work at TCS while on a project for GE Capital,” says Amar Pandit, CFA, CFP, founder and Chief Happyness Offcer at HappynessFactory.in, part of MFA Wealth Solutions. Pandit’s initiation to finance happened inorganically and it wasn’t something he pursued as a student.
Pandit was in the US when the idea hit home. “Towards the end of 2004, I did a lot of thinking on what I really wanted out of life. The only thing that I could think of was ‘financial planning’.” Pandit says he used to help friends and family with their financial planning and always enjoyed the process deeply. “I saw a huge opportunity for this in India. I took a decision to move back to India and start off my fee based financial planning firm.”
Like any other venture, MFA’s initial years faced its own set of challenges. Amar recounts, “At one point, there was barely enough money to make pay roll; moving beyond the first 10-20 clients was a hard task. The period between 2005 and 2007 tested us immensely but it was this very struggle that strengthened our foundation,” says Pandit, 43.
“Through a steady flow of referrals, we built a solid base, managed our costs well, built world class processes and did exceptionally high quality work. So, when the real slump came in 2008, we had all the right formulae in place. This was probably the best time for us because we had an amazing foundation in place and people started to appreciate the value of sound advice,” recalls Pandit.
In the past 12 years, the MFA team has worked with 500 high net worth families and they manage over Rs 1,500 crore of assets with an opportunity to grow the business at 25-30 per cent for the next 10 years.
Having made a real and happy difference in the lives of more than 500 families, Amar says, “We realised that it was time for us to make that same difference in the lives of people all over India and the world. The only way we could do this was through a high-technology, High Touch model. We built a separate company with its own unique identity by bringing together some amazing professionals from world class organisations such as TCS, Patni and so on.” Thus on 20 March, the International Day of Happiness, HappynessFactory.in was launched.
On running the business, Pandit says, “Our focus is on understanding what makes you happy and helping you clarify your purpose. We follow a simple equation Purpose + Money = Happiness and focus on delivering a Return on Life for our clients.”
Pandit is very clear when it comes to the company’s mission. “We have built a happy team that will always ensure our culture and values are the bedrock of what we do even 100 or 200 years down the line.” Pandit has written four books on personal finance and has developed a board game called Financial Premier League (FPL) to help children learn concepts of personal finance during playtime.
For Amar, disruption isn’t calculated in terms of technology, numbers or scale. He says, “The value lies in building a movement that can make a real difference in people’s lives”.