ETMarkets Smart Talk: Indians buying Disney, Airbnb; US IPOs still far fetched, says Viram Shah


Vested Finance, a US investing platform operating in India, has recently received a FINRA broker-dealer licence. This will augment the offerings on their platform, said Viram Shah, Co-founder and CEO, Vested Finance. Shah added that a weaker rupee also makes US investing more attractive but should not be the only reason to go global. Edited excerpts:

Vested Finance became the first Indian entity to get a FINRA broker-dealer licence. What does it mean to you, and how do you see it?

Vested Finance enables Indian investors to put money in the US markets. Now, through our affiliated entity – VF Securities – we are a FINRA-registered US broker-dealer. It is the only Fintech platform operating in India that has obtained a licence from FINRA, the regulatory body for brokers and dealers in the US. FINRA is regulated and audited by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

FINRA is dedicated to protecting investors and safeguarding market integrity in a manner that facilitates vibrant capital markets. As a government-authorised not-for-profit organisation, it oversees more than 624,000 brokers across the country and ensures that the industry performs fairly and honestly.

Investments through the Vested platform have always been covered under the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) insurance through its clearing firm, Drivewealth, and come under the Securities and Exchange Commission jurisdiction. Now that Vested is a US broker-dealer, securities investments through the Vested platform also come under US broker-dealer regulations.

For us, it is a step towards building more trust with our customers and at the same time offering them more investment options by expanding our investment pool to 5,000+ stocks.

What change do these licences bring to your investors? What new products and facilities would be available to investors? After this, do Indian investors participate in US IPOs?

Investors can access more than 5,000 stocks and ETF options via Vested. Along with that, they can also access OTC securities. Global companies that are part of OTC list (via ADRs) are the likes of LVMH Moët Hennessy, Nissan Motor Company, Porsche Automobil, Allianz, Volkswagen AG to name a few.

But unfortunately, Indians cannot participate in US IPOs at this point in time.

After the US, are you looking at any other international market where Indians can invest? For example Asian giants like Japan, China or European markets like the UK, Germany or France?

Given the huge opportunity presented by the US, the current emphasis is on providing solutions that appeal to the US market. However, our goal is to provide our customers with cross-border opportunities that they could not access earlier. Offering more markets is one of the ways we can inch closer to our goal.

The dollar has been hovering near a lifetime high, and the rupee is at a record low. Do you think it will impact investments of Indians, who would require domestic currency to buy US shares? How do you see that?

We believe that investments in the US markets provide an essential element of geographical diversification to one’s portfolio. The markets have been weak in 2022, and we have seen evidence of investors buying in the dips, especially when it comes to the big tech stocks. A weaker rupee also makes US investing more attractive, but that should not be the only reason to invest in the US markets. As the markets continue to be under pressure, this growth may slow down.

The US market has been in a bear grip. From the mega-caps to retail favourites, all stocks have been on a downward trajectory. Do you see investors buying this fall on your platform? Which sectors or stocks have been their favourite in the recent month?

Investing in giants such as Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft, Netflix, Tesla, and others is only possible via the US markets, therefore investors mostly purchase technology stocks. They are additionally purchasing Disney, Airbnb, and Berkshire Hathaway, among the non-tech stocks.

These companies have the potential to grow their revenues while keeping a check on associated costs. Investors with liquidity may buy these stocks to reap the benefits when the market cycle turns, and we again move into a growth phase.



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