Outlook Business
Prudent Financier Image Credit: Outlook Business
Prudent Financier Image Credit: Outlook Business

Prudent Financier

Nirmal Jain and R Venkataraman have turned IIFL from an equity research house to a diversified financial services firm with an eye on enduring growth

Jash Kriplani

First impression is the last impression’ goes the age-old adage. And it seems like Mumbai-based IIFL Holdings, had left an indelible mark on one of its institutional broking clients, Fairfax Financial back in 2007. Owned by Indian-origin billionaire Prem Watsa, the Canadian investment giant bought into the financial services company by picking up a 9% stake in 2011. It further increased its holding by 26% in 2015 via an open offer thus becoming the largest shareholder with a 35.44% stake.

Chandran Ratnaswami, the MD of Hamblin Watsa Investment Counsel, who oversees the firm’s investment portfolio in Asia, attributes this rising confidence in IIFL to the man at the helm — Nirmal Jain. “We were impressed with Jain as an entrepreneur. He built this business from scratch without any family connection and only aided by his sheer ability and drive. This has been the strongest driver behind our investment in IIFL,” says Ratnaswami, who also represents Fairfax as a non-executive director on the IIFL board.

In 1994, Jain was the head of research at broking firm Motilal Oswal. The division was set up as an independent unit called Inquire. After spending about a year, Jain thought of starting something of his own and that led to the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey. In less than 25 years, he has transformed his one-man show into an admirable, full-fledged financial services firm with a market value of ₹19,000 crore. A weighty testament to IIFL is attracting Prem

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