While many of his friends spent their childhood playing cricket and watching Bollywood movies, Manish Hathiramani had other interests.
He was fascinated by stock markets and started tracking their performances from the age of 10.
“In 1993 there was a big stock market scam in India by a stockbroker called Harshad Mehta and that triggered my interest in markets,” says Mr Hathiramani, who grew up in Kolkata, East India. “I was reading Dalal Street magazines and watching business news. There was a calling that I felt towards the markets.”
Fast forward to today and Mr Hathiramani, now 32, is a proprietary trader and technical analyst in India, who regularly appears as an expert voice on TV channels and in the business publications he grew up with. These days, he has also styled himself as an ambassador of sorts for Indian stock markets, frequently travelling to countries including the UAE and Australia to attract wealthy non-resident Indians (NRIs) and other investors to invest in Indian equities.
“I have pretty much seen all the bull rallies and bear rallies, all the crashes, all the peaks of our markets,” he says. “Since I’m so positive about Indian markets, I’m trying to approach different countries and help them to invest in the India story.”
Mr Hathiramani says that Dubai “feels like home” to him, as it was here he learnt the discipline of working for someone else.
In 2006, he moved to the emirate, spending the next 18 months working as an export executive for a distribution company in Jebel Ali after completing a degree in international business in Australia. His move to Dubai was made against the wishes of his family.
“We come from a very affluent family background in Kolkata, so nobody in my family has ever done a job, starting from my forefathers,” he says.
They were shocked that he wanted to work for someone else and urged him to join the family business or set up on his own.
“I wanted a humbling nature to seep into my system and to have a boss and work for an organisation,” he says. “I learnt discipline by working in Dubai. So today, whether it’s having a proper agenda, business planning, budgeting, all these things come very naturally to me now.”
During his time in the UAE he also traded stocks in India, making regular calls to his broker to execute trades. So he decided to return to India to fulfil his dream of becoming a proprietary trader.
“There were a lot of questions in my head about how I would set up a company and deal with the costs and taxes and whether it was better to first join a big company to get a more formalised training before setting up on my own,” he says. “But in the end I decided that I should set up on my own.”
It paid off and he is now travelling abroad regularly to work with clients, including several trips to Dubai each year. Much of his work is in Dubai, where there are opportunities to invest in Indian equities via the DGCX, rather than having to invest through India.
In July 2013, the derivatives bourse launched the S&P BSE Sensex futures, a futures contract based on the Bombay Stock Exchange’s (BSE) benchmark stock index that tracks the performance of 30 of the biggest stocks in India. In January, DGCX introduced global single stock futures, including 10 blue chip Indian stocks, with Tata Motors, Infosys, and ICICI Bank among them. DGCX’s S&P BSE Sensex futures trades about 25,000 contracts every month, according to figures from the bourse.
But there is huge potential for further growth, according to Gaurang Desai, the chief executive of DGCX.
“We see immense potential out here in the UAE, a country with over 2 million NRIs,” he says. “Most of these individuals wanting to access Indian markets will do so through online trading platforms offered by Indian brokerage firms. This means that they have to remit money back into India and take on the currency risk, as well as the local Indian market taxation.”
The exchange’s products allow investors to access the market without those costs and risk, he says.
Mr Hathiramani explains that the volatility of Indian equities offers opportunities not regularly found in exchanges in many other countries.
“We have stocks moving 15 or 20 per cent a day, so that makes it very lucrative for traders to be in our country,” he says. “The idea is to open up India to more investors — Emiratis, Indians, high net worth individuals.”
Recently, he also travelled to Australia to meet brokers, investors and investment houses to make them aware of the opportunities to invest in India via Dubai.
“While there are Indians, second generation Indians, third generation Indians, that are interested in the Indian story, they are far too scared to come directly,” he says. “They want fund houses where they can park their funds and the fund house can do everything for them. With Dubai, there’s no problem in transferring funds and opening accounts directly with brokers over there and via the Dubai exchange be a part of the Indian story.”
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