Exclusive: This Startup Is Looking To Hunt Down Shares Your Grandfather Bought Years Ago—And Then Forgot About

An 85-year-old who lives alone in Bengaluru had no idea that he had a small fortune to his name. While he worked in the Gulf in the 1960s and 70s, he and his wife had put some of their earnings into physical shares of Indian stocks—and then forgot about them as the decades rolled by. His family has since settled all over the globe, including Australia and Saudi Arabia, while his wife now lives with his children in Canada.

The memory of the stocks he had bought would have been lost to the sands of time were it not for a phone call from GLC Wealth. The Delhi-based firm specialises in helping people find and reclaim wealth they probably don’t even know about.

Helping Hand For Forgotten Treasure

The company informed him that the investments he held jointly with his wife were now worth ₹2 crore and said it wanted to help him recover them.

“So this was almost a six month-long process,” says Sanchit Garg, co-founder and CEO of GLC Wealth. “We approached their family, his children through LinkedIn, we had to build that trust because for them, it was something which came out of the blue.”

Sanchit Garg, CEO of GLC Wealth

Given the prevalence of fraudulent calls in the country, Sanchit Garg says that many people have to be convinced at first that they aren’t being scammed and that the company legitimately wants to help them recover their lost funds.

“the process in itself was complex because he did not have any documentation related to the investments,” Sanchit Garg goes on to say. “Plus, he’s staying in Bangalore, his wife is staying in Canada. Getting documentation done for both of them in two different jurisdictions as per Indian compliances—we had to get that done.”

The firm also helped the octogenarian open a demat account and completed all the documentation and compliances for loss of share certificates. And at the end of all that, the firm was successful in returning the family’s forgotten wealth to it.

A Big Opportunity In Lost Funds

In 2016, the government established the Investor Education and Protection Fund Authority (IEPF) under the Companies Act 2013 to help investors reclaim unclaimed dividends and shares. The fund has a balance of ₹18,433 crore and 53 crore shares, as of the financial year ended 2021.

Across shares, dividends, unclaimed bank accounts, fixed deposits, provident funds and insurance policies, Sanchit Garg says there is around ₹2 lakh crore to ₹3 lakh crore in unclaimed investments. He adds that only a small fraction of that has been claimed so far.

When the government established the fund, Sanchit Garg and his business partner Ankit Garg, who is GLC’s group head as well as a chartered accountant and lawyer, saw an opportunity and started the business in 2017.

“So we knew that this is a huge space — there are lakhs of such investors who have not claimed the investments,” Sanchit Garg says. “And then this specific domain started becoming our core competency.”

A Helping Hand

Sanchit Garg says that around 75% of their clients aren’t even aware that they have unclaimed investments in their names.

“We get almost 40-50 calls every day from all across India — not only in India, in fact, we get calls from NRIs (non-resident Indians) also — so we get a lot of incoming interest as well,” he says. “But in terms of business, my core focus is on outgoing clients where people are sitting, enjoying their life, unaware that they are sitting on a gold mine.”

The GLC Wealth team

The firm’s data mining team scrapes through millions of databases everyday, digging through public information to find legal heirs and family members, where are they settled, what are they doing, and whether they have tried to reclaim their investments. The firm then informs those who haven’t and helps them recover their funds for a small commission fee.

While the commission fee is variable on a case-to-case basis, the company says that in most cases, it only charges a fee after the recovery of assets is complete.

Sanchit Garg says that high-profile corporates, business families, CEOs, high-net-worth individuals and even members of royal families have been clients of the firm. He adds that a large chunk of the firm’s clients are NRIs looking to regain the investments they have left behind.

The team also includes chartered accountants and lawyers. The firm maintains healthy relationships with government agencies involved in the process.

The Bottom Line

The company says it is currently working on recovering assets worth around ₹500 crore and is profitable, growing at a multiple of around two to three times every year. It is completely bootstrapped and hasn’t actively approached investors to raise funds so far.

While there are other players that are working in the recovery of lost funds, GLC Wealth believes it is one of the largest players in terms of scale in India thanks to its in-depth knowledge of laws in the country and the complexity of cases it handles.

That said, Sanchit Garg does recognise the fact that the total size of the pie will shrink as more and more assets are recovered, but he says that it’s still going to be a large opportunity for the foreseeable future.

At the same time, the company is looking to diversify and expand into other related areas such as wealth management, drawing up wills, succession planning and inheritance—though these plans are all at a nascent stage.

“From wealth recovery, we would like to enter into wealth management,” Sanchit Garg says. “If we have helped people recover ₹1000 crore worth of investments, then those people would also want to invest that money somewhere… We have already built that trust with them, we have crossed one barrier, so we can easily pitch to them and probably help them to manage that money as well.”

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