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CLSA Wins Top Spot on All-India Sales Team

CLSA's quality research helps them 'sound more intelligent than others,' according to one respondent in our All-India Sales Team ranking.

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CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets claims the pole position on Institutional Investor’s first All-India Sales Team, followed by Morgan Stanley in second place. Kotak Securities captures third and is the highest-ranked domestic firm on the team. Rounding out the top five are Citi and J.P. Morgan, in fourth and fifth place, respectively. “Their promptness in addressing queries and their good research make them valuable,” declares one Hong Kong-based fan of the CLSA crew. (The names of those surveyed and the institutions they work for are kept confidential to ensure their continuing cooperation.) “Also the sales guys do good fundamental-research reading before talking to us, so they sound more intelligent than others.” Affirms another satisfied customer: “They really know their stuff, and they come to me with ideas that suit my investment philosophy rather than just flavor-of-the-month suggestions.” Mumbai-based Manish Gupta directs the squad of seven, whose members are stationed in Mumbai, New York and Singapore. “We endeavor to be the eyes and ears of clients,” he says. “Through our latest product offering, India Reality Research, we have a presence in more than 20 towns and cities, and we try to unravel trends before they show up in economic statistics.” Some money managers single out individuals for special praise. Melrick D’Souza “is well plugged in with on-the-ground color from India,” says one, while another insists that “Sang Gupta is one of the best salespeople on Wall Street — exceptionally energetic, imaginative and relationship-oriented.” That’s all part of the plan, the sales director says. “We treat clients as clients and not as counterparties,” Gupta asserts. “We are focused on independent broking and are dedicated to the highest-quality client service.” So is the team at Morgan Stanley, according to Sanjay Shah, who leads the seven-member, Mumbai-based crew. “As sell-side services get commoditized because of the increased level of competition, it is important to constantly differentiate ourselves and impress clients as an innovative and a consistent sales service provider,” he explains. “This demands the salesperson to be an ‘all-rounder’ by having sufficient in-depth knowledge of various asset classes, and leveraging the firm’s regional and global intellectual property.” Buy-side backers have noticed the difference. “Their responses are speedy and actionable,” says one U.S.-based advocate. “They appear to be smarter in the way they frame their conclusions — other sales teams just offer their thoughts and then a buy or sell call when you ask.” Observes one portfolio manager in the Middle East: “They are approachable for any type of query, and they reply quickly and knowledgeably. Also they strive to get access to research team and company meetings.” “We recognize that corporate access is an important component of our product suite,” Shah says. “Over time Indian market performance has been increasingly influenced by the global macro and regional backdrop. It’s been an important transition for specialist country sales like us to focus on these issues and educate the investment community through industry conferences, bespoke trips and inbound client trips — with an enhanced focus on corporates, policymakers and think tanks.” Sumana Mallick in particular “has been very active in setting up calls with analysts and helping us get models and data as needed,” according to one customer. One Europe-based backer insists that “Saumya Srivastav is THE salesperson. She provides timely ideas and good summaries of intraday action in the Indian market, is very much available to discuss a wide array of topics given her experience and is pro-active in putting investors in contact with her analysts.”

II asked participants in the 2012 All-India Research Team to tell us which firms field the country’s best sales teams. We received responses from some 420 buy-siders at nearly 250 firms that together manage an estimated $138 billion in Indian equity assets. Roughly 78 percent of the people who cast votes in the research team survey, representing 82 percent of the participating buy-side institutions, answered our question about the best sales teams.

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