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This is one piece of first-of-its-kind figure that makes fund managers salivate. India has an estimated 19,000 high networth individuals (HNIs), who have over $1 million of assets each, and a total investibile asset base of $71 billion, growing at the rate of 20% per annum.

This rough estimate, featured in a recent survey done by The Economist, has no wonder found favour among the domestic fund managers. "This is just a fraction of wealth Indian high networth individuals have considering the amount of undeclared wealth and receipts from non-resident Indians into the domestic market. This has, in fact, prompted several foreign banks operating in the country like ABN Amro, Citi, HSBC and Standard Chartered, to step up their private banking operations," said a fund manager.

Terming Asia as the new battleground for the world's private banks, The Economist stated that the region has over 1.9 million HNIs, according to Boston Consulting Group with a combined wealth of $6.2 trillion. However, it added that the markets with biggest potential, China and India, still remain closed with internal restrictions on offsore investments.

"There has been a substantial incremental inflows into portfolio management services of broking firms and banks. Most of these HNIs are quite investment savvy and adopt discretionary portfolio models with financial institutions. Often they are quite pro-active in terms of investments, where they take an aggressive asset allocation in terms of risk management," said a portfolio manager.

"Traditionally, HNIs have significant exposure to real estate and whatever margins they gain from existing business gets deployed for investments. Therefore they assume greater risks in terms of asset allocation," he added.

"Apart from traditionally wealthy Indians, there is a new mass-affluent class, which has emerged over the last 10 years who are quite investment savvy and most of them have single-stock exposure with marginal asset allocations to fixed income market. HNIs have, of late, been a key investor for domestic mutual fund schemes unlike in the past and there are large-scale inflows into diversified equity schemes of funds," said a broking house executive.

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