Inside The Billionaires’ Clubs Blossoming Across Mumbai And Delhi
Where does a billionaire go to get confidential financial advice, or a massage? To an exclusive, invite-only club, of course. Home to over 2,000 billionaires, India has seen an exponential growth of ultra high net worth individuals in the past decade, and their rarefied world is made more exclusive courtesy of the billionaires’ clubs blossoming across Mumbai and Delhi.
India’s answer to Singapore’s Tower Club or London’s St James, the Indus Club offers 20,000 sq ft of privacy and comfort to its 250 members. Spelling sophistication and luxury, it opened its doors in Mumbai’s BKC ONE in April this year, thanks to a revealing insight. “We realised that the business capitals of the world all have ultra-luxe private members’ business clubs where achievers can conduct business, socialise and unwind in an environment of privacy and uber luxury,” says Sapna Keswani, GM, Marketing. “This is clearly missing in India, so we commissioned research, which confirmed our insight that the global Indian was ready for their very own ultra-luxe members’ only business club.” With its members automatically gaining reciprocal membership to a host of elite clubs across the world, be it London’s Morton’s Club or LA’s Griffin Club, Indus attracts CXOs, jet-setting entrepreneurs and creative influencers. Its list includes NP Singh, CEO of Sony Pictures Networks India, and Gaurav Deepak, MD of Avendus Capital.
Along with a private auditorium, already being touted as the best private theatre in the country, and an all-day dining room that serves culinary masterpieces by Chef Ajay Chopra, Indus Club offers work and play conveniences to its members including a boutique spa, a gym, private offices, a formal restaurant, conference rooms, an indoor golf simulator, a bar and a cigar room. Designed by Zubin Master of Design Matrix with the active involvement of founder Harish Thawani and Keswani, Indus Club’s decor combines contemporary chic with timeless elegance. Each element of art and decor has either been specially curated or sourced, whether it is sculptures by Ashis Kumar Das, digital artwork by Mukteshwari Nagpal or acoustics designed by Andu Munro. Be it a private investment meeting or a champagne movie premiere, a massage or a quick run on the treadmill, its members can get anything they desire in a New York minute — even VIP access to sporting events around the globe.
Unlike Indus Club, which offers a physical venue to its members, Campden offers its wealthy business family members something even more prized: knowledge. “What keeps you awake at night?” asks Amit Patni, the promoterdirector of Campden Family Connect. “We often ask our member families this question and offer them a customised solution to their predicament.” How? By connecting them to their peers, who may have gone through similar situations and found a viable way forward. Organising round-table events of about 15 to 20 people as well as larger conferences and family meetings of about 90 attendees, Campden stays away from thought leaders. Instead, principals of family businesses are asked to chair a conference on a particular topic of their expertise. These closed-door sessions are bound by the traditional Chatham House Rule. The rule states that, “When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.”
Is it any wonder that discretion is the cornerstone of Campden? Since its members belong to over 15 of India’s most well-heeled families with a net worth of Rs 300 crore and up, it is no wonder that they prize confidentiality. After all, the issues being discussed range from succession planning, setting up a family constitution or the transition of wealth into the next generation. With about 12 events organised across states in India, Campden sometimes invites event partners to address its members when the discussion is around nuanced topics such as law. Some of these include AZB & Partners, India’s foremost law firm, with Ajay Bahl, Zia Mody and Bahram Vakil at its helm, and celebrated legal and tax advisor Nishit Desai.
While Campden caters only to family businesses, Priwexus, another membership community, opens its doors a little wider. “We are a networking forum dedicated to serving business families, next generation businesspersons and first-generation entrepreneurs,” says founder Aditya Gadge. Education and networking are the cornerstones of Priwexus, which officially began operations in September 2017. Gadge realised that while the Indian business and finance community was suddenly talking about family offices, they didn’t consider next generation entrepreneurs. “There are a lot of young businessmen and women in India who’ve made their money and shouldn’t be skipped. They are young, open to ideas and 99 per cent of them are bullish about India as a land of opportunity. We’re offering a platform to work on their areas of concern through networking and education,” he explains. Working with those whose net worth ranges from Rs 100 crore to Rs 300 crore, Priwexus aims to delve into topics such as investments, philanthropy, family governance, estate management and gennext education. In addition to case studies and proprietary research, Priwexus empowers its members by giving them a hand-picked advisor directory of the best service providers across sectors, be it accounting or security.
WIN, the Wodehouse Investment Network both challenges and conforms to the notions of a traditional club for the affluent. Standing apart from Campden and Priwexus by offering its 250-strong membership exclusive and private investment opportunities, it also gives them access to exclusive auctions and collectibles. “While most other HNI clubs and networks are focussed largely on networking, WIN distinguishes itself by focusing on offering exclusive, curated investment opportunities to its uber HNI members,” says Manmohan Tiwana, MD & CEO of Wodehouse. Using a presentation format, WIN invites selected members interested in a particular industry or sector and connects them with five curated promoters, previously vetted by its inhouse team. Its first event, held in June 2017 at the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, has already seen investors pairing up with four of the five promoters, and its upcoming meet in Delhi is sure to garner more such investments. Members include the likes of Mitul Sanghavi, director, Akry Organics Pvt Ltd, and Rajesh Dhume, director, Tranzlease Holdings India.
During these sessions, members are encouraged to rub shoulders with likeminded peers, giving rise to co-investment opportunities, too. Apart from the investment network, Tiwana has also started the Wodehouse Connoisseurs Club (WCC), a closeddoor event where just 15 UHNW couples are invited to attend. The highlight of the evening is a sneak peak at luxury brands’ curated offerings. Whether it is about purchasing art as investment courtesy experts from Osian, Jaguar’s latest sports sedan, or Rémy Martin’s cognac champagne, WCC’s members are taken through an array of sophisticated products and experiences that they are likely to enjoy.
Each of these clubs caters to a nuanced audience and offers a differently flavoured pie. And they each have their wealthy takers, all vying for a slice.