Basic Dos and Don’ts for Entering the Indian Investment Migration Market – By Prashant Ajmera

 

India is one of the few emerging economic powerhouses whose HNWIs have yet to appreciate the benefits of residency and citizenship by investment (RCBI). In this article, we outline some of the major do’s and don’ts of Indian investment migration market success.

RCBI is a relatively new investment concept to most wealthy Indians. Complicating matters is that India is a very large country, its people as diverse as its landscape with multiple languages, religions, cultures, and food habits. Before even beginning to market RCBI programs in India, therefore, in-depth study and understanding of the market – and especially the Indian mindset – is essential.

7 mistakes to avoid to break through the Indian market

  1. Impatience: RCBI is not a readily grasped concept here, so try not to be impatient. It takes time for inquiries to convert into actual investment.
  2. Expecting local RCBI-agents to know what they’re talking about: India has more than 5,000 immigration agents/consultants, but their knowledge about RCBI is dismal or a bare minimum to say the least. So if you think appointing any old immigration agent in India to market your product is a sound strategy, think again. We’ve already met large international agencies that have burned their fingers trying to break into the Indian investment migration market by relying on local agents. To some, the results have been so disappointing that they’ve decided to pull out of the market altogether.
  3. Expecting HNWI advisors to do the work for you: Chartered accountants, wealth managers and lawyers who work with and for Indian HNWIs also have very basic or no knowledge about RCBI programs and its utility for Indian HNWIs.
  4. Underestimating the challenge of getting money out of India: Government regulations are not very favourable when it comes to transferring money from India to a foreign jurisdiction. 
  5. Thinking most Indian HNWIs are in a rush to leave the country: India has a stable democracy and a vibrant economy. Thus, most HNWIs are not highly motivated or desperate to leave the country and acquire immigration elsewhere.
  6. Neglecting the stigma of HNWI emigration: RCBI is not well accepted socially. When wealthy Indians try to acquire residency or citizenship of another country, it is often perceived as an attempt to flee from the law, escape wrongdoing, or due to possible ostracism by the business or social community.
  7. Expecting Indian HNWIs to be open to the idea of RCBI: Indian HNWIs are quite conservative and many will not even consider the idea. Very few HNWIs have made an international investment through RCBI, so there are few examples for other HNWIs to follow. Changing these perceptions will take time.

What service providers and developers must do to successfully enter the Indian market

Consider this Rule Number One: Though they are both neighbors and economic powerhouses, India and China are by no means the same. So what works in China may not or likely will not work in India. This means, for example, that the marketing strategies that attracted thousands of investors in China may not attract a single one in India.

Case in point – One of the leading companies promoting RCBI in the world has a veritable fleet (100+) of agents working on their behalf in India. For the past few years, they’ve been conducting seminars and road shows on a regular basis but their efforts have produced virtually no results. Out of frustration, they have decided to pull out of the Indian market altogether.

This is a common experience for many foreign developers and project promoters. I’ve met several stakeholders at various events who have shared their frustrations with the Indian market. Not only foreign companies but even Indian origin developers and promoters face a roadblock when marketing their products and services to the Indian clientele.

Here are 11 pointers of things you should do to avoid the same fate:

  1. Educate: Be prepared to educate Indian HNIs regarding RCI program due to lack of awareness and knowledge.
  2. Build trust: Indians normally prefer doing business through personal references. They do not easily trust credit ratings and long drawn agreements. Trust is the main issue here. So finding a way to win the trust of Indian HNIs is imperative.
  3. Focus on selling your country, not your project: Try selling your country rather than your project Indian HNWIs. Better still, stress on the unique sales proposition (USP) of your country’s program from the Indian HNWI perspective. If the program does not appeal to their personal and economic sensibilities, Indians won’t part with their hard-earned money. Connecting with the psyche of Indian HNIs is the key – success stories of the Indian diaspora and the prominent presence and appreciation of Indian culture, food, and places of worship in your country will create a sense of welcome and belonging.
  4. Think out of the box – Create a USP for your country. Attract Indian HNWIs through trade missions, providing subsidies for shooting Bollywood movies, promoting luxury wedding destinations, etc.
  5. Don’t try to cover the whole of India in one trip. It can’t be done. Also, do not expect to close deals in the first meeting itself. It may take many meetings and follow-ups before an Indian HNI actually signs up.
  6. Find knowledgeable local representatives. Indians like working with reputed foreign service providers who have a strong presence in India. Appointing a knowledgeable and reliable agent or representative in India who protects your interests is important.
  7. Try working with one good agent rather than many mediocre ones. India is a big country but one good agent can generate more business than 10 frivolous ones.
  8. Appoint professionals as your associates; those who have good connections and professional rapport with HNWIs.
  9. Allocate a sizable budget for marketing: Newspaper advertisements, seminars, and road shows can prove to be quite expensive. Social media marketing is a good and cost-effective way of generating leads as most Indians are social media savvy. 
  10. Be generous with good introducers: Don’t hesitate to seek help from local associates to convert leads into actual clients. Be generous in compensating them. This will motivate them to work harder and get more business.
  11. Find common ties: Caribbean countries can take advantage of common ties with India such as love for cricket, medical schools and the local Indian-origin population (who migrated to their countries 2-3 generations back) to attract Indian HNWIs. European countries can attract Indian HNWIs actively involved in business by showcasing the high quality of life, natural beauty and excellent opportunities for education and business across Europe. 

Awakening the Indian HNI tiger requires caution and patience. But it is just a matter of time until its roaring will be heard all over the world!

This article was contributed by Prashant Ajmera, an Indian immigration attorney with more than 25 years of experience.

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