At first glance, Indore’s Vijay Nagar seems like any other commercial hub in an Indian city. Shopping complexes, hospitals, and hotels dot the landscape. On closer inspection, though, the area reveals itself as the home of stock market advisors and tipsters. 

Such businesses are cloistered within a 1 km radius of the local office of India’s market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi). 

And while a handful are actually licensed to dispense investment advice, most operate as outlaws. The Ken visited the listed addresses of 23 such businesses; all except for four turned out to be fake storefronts. 

Perhaps the most unabashed tipster of them all is Wealth Research. Its listed addresses include a parking lot for the government transport office, located across the street from the local police station. As garbage trucks moved in and out of the sandy patch of land, inquiries from attendants and nearby shop owners revealed no such business ever existed there. 

“On average, we get 60-70 complaints a month about advisories,” a senior constable at the nearby police station tells The Ken. Complaints have slowed down over the past year or so, he adds, but most of them were related to customers being swindled of money that was never even invested. 

While outlaw advisors are the most notorious of operators, Indore is also home to over 10% of India’s Registered Investment Advisors (RIA), according to Sebi data. RIAs are individuals or entities who advise clients on investments and are registered with the Sebi.

“Indore is like Kota. Kota is for educational institutes, Indore is for advisory services,” says a registered investment advisor
. And like Kota, Indore, too, has a mixed reputation.

Though registered, many RIAs in the city don’t have an unblemished record either. Of the nearly 16,400 complaints against RIAs since 2013, when Sebi first brought in the RIA regulations, close to 90% pertain to Indore-based operators offering stock tips to customers. The complaints were logged on SCORES, the Sebi-operated stock market redressal platform. The body has received complaints against around 400 registered advisors—more than 150 of them are based in Indore. Firms like Ways2Capital, CapitalVia, Ripples Advisory, and Tradeindia Research have each been reported to Sebi over 500 times, according to data reviewed by The Ken.  

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It’s hard to pin down the total number of firms that are engaged in this business in Indore, given that a majority of them never register with Sebi.