Chandrima Das is the Co-founder and CEO of Bento – a B2B2C Robo Advisor start-up that aids advisors build fundamentally led research based investment portfolios at low cost. She is a mother of two and an avid runner.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
After over 18 years of experience in the wealth management & asset management industry in Asia and the UK, I started Bento in April 2016. In my last job, before taking the entrepreneurial plunge, I was Managing Director in the Bank of Singapore, responsible for Fund selection and advisory. Prior to that, I was the CEO of ING Investment Management in Singapore.
I have been very lucky to work for organizations and people who have all along fanned the “intrapreneur” in me and gave the opportunities that helped me grow personally and professionally. Through my career, I have had exposure to 12 jurisdictions across the world in developed and emerging markets and in various roles, including portfolio advisory, asset allocation, fund due diligence, product development for mutual funds, alternatives and discretionary portfolios.
I am the mother of two beautiful daughters and an avid runner. Figuratively speaking, my children and running keep me going.
What is your business venture about?
I spent most of my working life in the buy side of the business where long term simple portfolio-based approach has always worked. When I started working on the wealth management side, I realized that there were far too many products, and too many short-term ideas that were a lot driven by the emotional side of investing – bit like a candy shop with no healthy options.
Bento brings a forward looking research driven institutionalized portfolio-based investment process for individuals, directly and with B2B2C options via banks, brokers, insurance companies and brokers.
What is your mission at the outset?
Bento’s objective is to bring institutional portfolio construction tools that aid advisors to impart holistic risk-based, customized solutions that work through market cycles, to their clients at a low price point.
How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
I have fair understanding of the institutional asset allocation process – strategic allocation that works through multiple market cycles plus dynamic overlays.
When I decided to leave my day job with the bank, I chose to bring this time-tested strategy for the segment that could benefit the most with simplified investment solutions.
What is unique about your business?
Bento’s proprietary optimizer builds customized risk-based portfolios that are efficient and tax optimized, factoring in client’s risk taking propensity, personal preferences and home market bias for each and every and individual.
Fundamentally led and forward looking data inputs for the optimizer are contributed by asset allocation consultants who influence trillions of dollars of institutional money globally.
The portfolio construction tool has various modules such as income, capital appreciation, major investment and retirement.
Who do you sell to and how do you get customers?
We have had great initial support from some HNI clients that got us off the runway. At this stage our go-to market strategy is via banks, brokers and wealth managers.
Why will customers stay or do repeat business with you?
The investment model that we bring has so far been the forte of larger institutions such as sovereign wealth funds, endowments and pensions. It is designed to perform through market cycles.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Being an entrepreneur is a lonely journey and the right people should have your back.
Who is your biggest inspiration or drive to do what you are doing?
The opportunity to make a meaningful difference to lives of many investors is heady and ever enticing. I feel lucky that I started at the right time and in the right place.
Hock Lai has 18 years of experience in the financial industry, having performed roles in both business and technology. He graduated from the National University of Singapore (Real Estate), Nanyang Technological University (Infocomm Technology) and Nanyang Polytechnic (Fund Management & Administration).
He is also a Fellow of the Singapore University of Social Science, advisor to FinTech Startups and mentor to student FinTech projects.
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