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May - 2012 - issue > Cover Story
The-Trusted-Wealth-Manager-of-the-Silicon-Valley-entrepreneur
Vimali Swamy
Thursday, May 3, 2012
When Ajith Bhatia sold his startup, he earned a substantial amount in concentrated stock of the acquiring company. Like any good businessperson, Bhatia knew it was a bad idea to have all his investments tied up in a single company. He wanted to diversify and spread his holdings across a variety of investments ? mutual funds, hedge funds, private equity and real estate. He also wanted to make sure that he had sufficient funds in place to benefit his family and cover his tax liability.

Additionally, because he was experienced at starting and selling a company, Bhatia was interested in potentially investing in other people's good ideas as an angel investor but was not sure where he could meet like-minded people with expertise in their own domain.

Bhatia knew he needed a sophisticated financial advisor. A broker or financial institution would perhaps be the right place, but news headlines about conflicts of interest had him concerned. He wanted to work with someone who would look out for his best interests, a personal financial advisor whom he could count on to work solely on his behalf as a mentor and guide.

For this level of investing advice, Bhatia turned to Sanjeev Sardana, Founder and CEO of BluePointe Capital Management. What he found in Sardana was a friend who could help him navigate through complex financial issues and develop a well thought out strategy to manage his wealth.

Founded in 2006, BluePointe Capital is an SEC-registered independent advisory firm based in San Mateo, CA. As a personal wealth manager for each of its clients, BluePointe acts as clients' primary resource for financial decision-making.

Entrepreneurs Have Special Abilities and Specific Needs

BluePointe Capital Management specializes in helping successful tech entrepreneurs in the Bay Area develop sophisticated pre-IPO and M&A strategies. The firm concentrates on the financial challenges facing top executives and recommends solutions for issues such as generational wealth transfer and tax minimization, as well as hedging and monetization strategies for concentrated stock positions. Through its personalized planning and sophisticated investment management, BluePointe distinguishes itself from other financial advisors.

In the past decade or so, Silicon Valley has experienced a surge of highly successful Indian entrepreneurs. Many have achieved back-to-back successes, building and later selling their startups. Indian technologists tend to be serial entrepreneurs who have succeeded in amassing a large amount of money along the way. However, many of these entrepreneurs lack the bandwidth and expertise needed to effectively manage their wealth.

Successful Indian-American entrepreneurs must deal with the same issues that affect nearly all Americans, including how to maintain financial independence and enjoy a comfortable retirement while caring for aging parents and providing for children. There are also concerns unique to the diaspora, such as how to make a meaningful gift to an India-based charity, invest in the burgeoning Indian economy, and properly manage a cross-border estate. What these investors want is a personal guide who, apart from having a thorough knowledge of financial planning and investments, also understands their culture, mindset and ambitions. With over two decades of experience serving in top investment firms, Sanjeev Sardana and his team are uniquely qualified to assist Indian-American entrepreneurs.

A Financial Firm That Understands Indian-Americans

Since coming to the U.S. in the 1980s, Sardana has been part of Silicon Valley's tight-knit Indian community. After earning an MBA from Thunderbird at the American Graduate School of International Management, he has worked with large financial institutions such as Credit Suisse and DLJ. Over the years, Sardana has gained extensive experience in advising clients on investing options ranging from the traditional equities and fixed income, to alternatives including private equity and hedge funds. He is also experienced with derivatives, including options, and tax efficient hedging and monetization strategies. As a director in the Private Banking Division of Credit Suisse, Sardana was responsible for managing the wealth of the bank's high net-worth clients and family offices. In fact, he was hand picked by the senior management to serve on the Advisory Council of Excellence, the "ACE Committee." Despite being given the opportunity to work with many of his firm's best clients, Sardana felt constrained working within the confines of a large institution. His employer's revenue quotas were sometimes in conflict with his own desire to deliver the most comprehensive, trustworthy advice and investment management services. "Brokerage firms typically incentivize their brokers to push certain products. These are typically proprietary investments geared to deliver revenues to the broker first and benefits to the client last," says Sardana. Often the needs of the individual investor or the suitability of an investment is secondary to the institution's desire to sell certain investment products. "This is where honesty and a true commitment to the client's interests are forced to take a back seat to the demands of the brokerage house," he continues. "In fact, for many wealthy families who relied on traditional brokers and institutional financial advisors, 2008 was a wake up call where they saw their investments significantly decrease in value."

The need to be true to himself and his work inspired Sardana to start his own company. In 2006, he formed BluePointe Capital Management. Working for himself as an independent financial advisor enables Sardana to provide recommendations he believes in. As an Indian, he has the freedom to pursue high net worth clients in the Indian-American community, which has spawned an increasing number of successful entrepreneurs.

Transparent Advice With No Hidden Fees

One of the biggest benefits of working with an independent financial advisor rather than a broker is the way in which services are charged. A true independent advisor should charge a fee based on assets under management. This arrangement helps assure full transparency. It also means that the advisor is incentivized to work hard to grow the client’s portfolio. Good investment advice results in increased profits for both client and advisor. There are no surprise fees or unexpected charges. And to ensure a continued level of personal service, Sardana is careful about the number of clients he takes on.

As an independent wealth advisor, Sardana and his team can provide clients with a variety of investment options. The expertise they offer on India and the goals of Indian investors make BluePointe one of the country's most unique wealth managers.

BluePointe -Your Personal CFO

At BluePointe, Sardana and his team offer more than traditional wealth management services. They aim to become their clients' personal CFO. Their consultative process allows them to seamlessly integrate investment consulting, advanced planning, and relationship management. They take a personalized approach with every client, rather than following a set model. They do this via a three-step process. It starts with a "discovery meeting," during which a BluePointe advisor conducts an extensive interview with the client. The goal is to gain deep insight on key issues such as investment goals, family relationships, personal values and community networks. This approach helps facilitate the construction of a balanced portfolio, tailored to the client's needs while keeping in mind long-term ambitions and dreams.

After gaining a thorough understanding of the client's needs and wishes, Sardana and his team create a suitable investment plan, customized to the client's particular situation and future goals. The plan recommends an investment allocation strategy as well as strategies for building a retirement nest egg, saving for children’s education, making charitable contributions and more.

Step two is the "investment plan meeting," when BluePointe presents the plan to the client. This meeting is a formal presentation after which the client is encouraged to take time to carefully consider BluePointe's recommendations. Clients may want to share the plan with family members and consult with other professionals in their network (an attorney and accountant, for example) to make sure they are comfortable with the recommendations.

It is only when the client is 100 percent certain that the plan makes sense, are contracts signed, and the investing and advisory process begins in earnest.

Working Together For The Long Term

Once a working relationship has been established, BluePointe maintains close and regular communication with clients through quarterly progress meetings, client newsletters, emails and phone calls. Needs change and life events occur – marriages take place; babies are born; companies are bought and sold. As financial advisors, the BluePointe team is prepared to update or change strategies to address these events.

Beyond The Traditional Route

Many Indian-Americans want to use their wealth to connect back to their roots in India for both investing and philanthropic purposes. They want to be stakeholders in the new, shining "India, Inc." Typically their only choice is to invest through relatives, a potentially problematic solution. What they really need are reliable business partners who can help with cross-border estate planning and inheritance issues. They may need assistance finding reliable and professional business service providers and partners in order to invest in India without repatriation, tax or legal entanglements. Managing assets held in India and identifying viable investment ideas are not something that most relatives can handle. BluePointe, in partnership with credible firms in India, offers these services. This level of service is something that most U.S. financial institutions and advisors simply cannot offer.

The Ability To Act Quickly Can Pay Off

Traditional financial institutions, bound by processes and self-interest, typically are not quick enough to capitalize on an investment opportunity that may be perfect for a client. BluePointe, being independent and nimble, has the advantage here.

For example, during the 2009-2010 downturn, the real estate market in the U.S. was hit hard. Foreclosures were rampant, and savvy investors wanted a piece of the action, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area.

When Sardana learned that several of his clients were interested in investing in these distressed properties, he quickly formed a syndicate and partnered with an experienced real estate team who bought several properties as investments for the syndicate. As the real estate market picked up again, the 34 or so Bay Area properties owned by the syndicate were renovated and sold, resulting in positive returns for participating BluePointe clients. In 2012, Sardana and his team have set up an investment vehicle to take advantage of the opportunity represented by banks being taken over by FDIC. These private partnerships set up by BluePointe are suitable for certain qualified purchasers.

Giving Back To The Community

The majority of BluePointe's clients are tech entrepreneurs with a legacy of successful startups behind them. Though they might not be interested in launching another startup of their own, many want to continue participating in the booming tech industry in one way or another. One way to do this is by becoming an angel investor.

An "angel" invests a small amount of money in a promising young startup. Unlike a venture capital firm, which actively seeks out potential investment opportunities, funds them and takes an ownership stake, angel investors typically have equity only. To support this desire among his clients and foster innovation, BluePointe holds quarterly Angel Investment Forums. Here, interested and qualified parties gather in BluePointe's conference room to learn about cutting-edge ideas waiting to be brought to market. In a safe atmosphere of sharing and mutual support, these seasoned investors and business entrepreneurs connect, contributing insight and, sometimes, dollars.

In the past year, BluePointe's Angel Investor Forum has nurtured and invested in many successful startups. "For me, this is one way to connect my clients to exciting investment opportunities that they otherwise would not have access to," explains Sardana. "Not only that, but I know I am contributing to the growth of Silicon Valley’s tech community."

In Conclusion

Research indicates that more than 80 percent of investors are actively considering switching to a new financial advisor due to the major disruption in financial markets in recent years. For investors concerned about their financial future, a second opinion may help. Bluepointe Capital Management is happy to provide that.

Due to his determination to help Indian-Americans grow and preserve their wealth, Sanjeev Sardana and his team at BluePointe Capital Management, have become the advisory firm of choice among Silicon Valley's Indian entrepreneurs. Sardana's singular focus on fostering wealth among his community and contributing to the Valley's reputation for innovation will help Indian investors become an even more significant and influential part of the country's high net worth demographic.

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