The Finwise Couple series – In celebration of International Women’s Day – 1

Last year, for International Women’s Day, we shared stories of some successful women, who over the last few years, started their journey with Finwise and took charge of their financial lives to make it more secure for themselves and their families.

 

This year, we share journeys of some such couples over the next few days, and hope they inspire you to take similar actions to free your and families’ financial futures.

 

Our first couple is Dr. Ashok Dabir & Dr. Neela Dabir. Ashok is a successful and leading oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Mumbai, and Neela is professor at TISS, and Dean of their Institute of Vocational Education.

 

On the role of Neela in the family’s financial journey, Ashok says, “We have always had a relationship of equals. I was one of the earliest people to recognise that I had married someone who was meticulous in her work and could envisage and implement things effortlessly. I am not very involved with the finances as I can see Neela has the passion and an eye for numbers, she enjoys doing a deep dive to understand the nuances of the products. That has been a huge blessing since it gives each of us the space to pursue what we enjoy, while having the peace of mind that the better half is doing a great job with things, we don’t particularly like doing.”

 

About getting on the path of financial well-being, he surmises, “We had been investing over the years. But it was with various people who were selling products to us. None of them tried to look at us holistically. While each of them was able to enumerate the benefits individually, we were looking for somebody to bring it all together and give us an unbiased view as our representative and not trying to sell us a product. Our association with Finwise started way back in 2015 in a small way, it has grown to encompass all our investments and we have a sounding board for our ideas as well as someone to disagree with us when it is called for.”

 

Their children are now grown up and building their own lives, and in this phase, always being financially prudent has helped Ashok & Neela fulfil their passions – they travel the world together regularly, visiting new places, every few months.

 

Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both NRI and resident individuals and families plan for their financial goals, follow their passions and achieve financial independence.

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For advice, please reach us at getfinwise@finwise.in or +91 9870702277/9820818007.

Celebrating the Men too, this International Women’s Day!

Celebrating the Men too, this International Women’s Day!

Its International Women’s Day on March 8th, 2020, and we can think of no better time during the year to reach out to you, to share a few inspiring success stories of people who are on the path to financial independence and well-being.

 

 

Last year, we shared stories of some successful women, who over the last few years, started their journey with Finwise and took charge of their financial lives to make it more secure for themselves and their families.

 

 

Conventionally, one would argue as to why we need a specific day in the year to celebrate Women? We should be doing that through the year, and we agree fully with the sentiment. Our monthly columns (published on Moneycontrol.com) on women and how they can handle money problems and achieve financial independence, is testimony to that fact.

 

 

We would instead like to respectfully submit that International Women’s Day need not only be about women individually. Women today are equal partners in life, whether at work or at home, and while they have fought to achieve this status, they have also been supported by a growing tribe of the opposite sex, who have actually lent credence to the theory that the “better half” is actually as good, if not better at managing money.

 

 

Over the last few years, we have come across many such success stories. While one kind is where both spouses are actively involved in planning and securing their financial future together (with, in some cases, the woman actually taking the lead), we also have the other, where the man, despite possibly being the sole or dominant earning member, consciously and actively involves his spouse in the financial decisions of the house, thereby, both literally and figuratively, “putting money where the mouth is”.

 

 

In our experience, it is this “absence of bias” in the relationship between spouses and respect for each other as equal partners, that is one of the true building blocks of well-planned and long-lasting financial and general well-being for the family.

 

 

This year, for International Women’s Day, we share journeys of some such couples over the next few days, and hope they inspire you to take similar actions to free your and families’ financial futures. Look out for the first journey tomorrow.

 

 

Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both NRI and resident individuals and families plan for their financial goals, follow their passions and achieve financial independence.

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For advice, please reach us at getfinwise@finwise.in or +91 9870702277/9820818007.

Dear woman, don’t be risk-averse in choosing your investments

Dear woman, don’t be risk-averse in choosing your investments

Last week, I did a financial well-being session at a well-known corporate, the participants being predominantly women in their 30s. While they were all keen on taking charge of their finances and made for an attentive audience, most of them were extremely risk-averse.

 

This was startling, since women, usually, are not in a hurry. They are very patient, and once they understand the way a product is built and have realistic expectations of the short-term as well as long-term performance, they wait out the turbulent times patiently and truly stay put for the long term.

 

Given this fact, it was surprising to see that most of the women mentioned earlier were shying away from equity since they perceived the volatility in the short term as risk. There are several compelling reasons for women to take more interest and understand the best options available to them when it comes to investing. Here are three big ones.

 

Read our latest article, published on Moneycontrol.

 

https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/personal-finance/dear-woman-dont-be-risk-averse-in-choosing-your-investments-4981251.html

 

Image credit: Moneycontrol

 

Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both NRI and resident individuals and families plan for their financial goals, follow their passions and achieve financial independence.

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For advice, please reach us at getfinwise@finwise.in or +91 9870702277/9820818007.

Lessons in managing money from Test cricket as we get into the 2020s

Lessons in managing money from Test cricket as we get into the 2020s

In the last decade or so, the Twenty-20 (T20) format has overtaken the traditional formats of cricket, due to its shorter match-time, fast-paced and glitzy game, adapted rules to make it more interesting as well as in-studio add-ons. While purists may not appreciate these “dilutions”, they have definitely democratized cricket, taking it to newer audiences both in existing countries where cricket is played, as well as to more countries across continents, moving the game up several notches in the global rankings of universal popularity as well as revenues.

 

Interestingly, we have also recently entered the 2020s decade. With the dawn of 2020, another decade just passed on! Already 2 decades of the new millennium are gone and it has been a full 2 years since the 21st century turned an adult! With attention spans shortening and the pace of life and changes to it both getting quicker, it sometimes seems that even time is playing a T20 version of its game on us.

While this fast-paced “T20 version” of life can get addictive, its effects can be quite corrosive! It has never been easier to acquire “look-rich” symbols of wealth, with literally everything, including luxury cars, now available at the click of a button on “easy” EMIs. There has been a dramatic change in the way people have managed their cashflows (Income vs Expenses) in the last few years, and this is also reflected in the household savings rate (as a % of GDP), which is down to 17.2% in 2017-18 from 23.6% in 2011-12 (data source – Forbes India, 2nd Jan, 2020).

 

The newer generation of investors also think quite differently as compared to their previous generation, placing far more emphasis on the present and the here-and-now while being not-as-concerned with what the future holds. Apart from re-defining their needs, this thinking also stems partly from a much higher level of self-belief and confidence in one’s own abilities, as compared to what the earlier generation had at this age.

 

That being the case, in these changing times, does managing one’s money also evolve a-la cricket and have its own “T20” version of the rules? In my view some things will not change, especially lessons on managing one’s money. They remain universal and relevant, just like Test matches in today’s T20 age, and if anything may become more relevant in the coming uncertain and high-speed decades. So, what are some of those lessons that you can take from Test cricket, to manage your money in today’s T20 times? Here are 7 simple ones.

 

 

  1. BE PATIENT – Test cricket can be boring, and needs to be played session by session

 

Test cricket can at times put you to sleep, and definitely test your patience, with its long-drawn out game, and sometimes non-result-oriented approach. Similarly, managing your money well can also be, rather, needs to be boring, and is a long-term repetitive process, year on year, with regular reviews and course corrections.

 

The great Warren Buffett says “The stock market is designed to transfer money from the impatient to the patient.”

 

 

  1. MAKE FEWER MISTAKES – The winner is the team which loses fewer wickets than the other

 

This is one the biggest differences between Test cricket and the other formats, since victory goes to the more resilient team, one that loses fewer wickets than the opponent. Similarly, a very productive approach in investing is to make as few mistakes as possible, and definitely, lesser than the broader market.

 

Charlie Munger once said, “It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.”

 

 

  1. PROTECT YOUR CAPITAL – Defense is the best form of offence

 

The “test” in Test cricket possibly stands for a “test of a team’s defenses”, since the team needs to stay at the crease, ball after ball, over after over, without losing an unnecessary wicket. Similarly, being prudent with your money is about preserving your capital as well as possible for as long as one can, rather, it’s about maximizing returns with as minimum risk as possible.

 

In Anthony Robbin’s words, “Don’t think in terms of taking huge risks to get huge rewards, think about the least amount of risk for the greatest reward and be disciplined about that.”

 

 

  1. LOOK FOR CONSISTENCY – Boundaries are not as important as exploiting the field and running between the wickets is

 

A team that keeps the scoreboard ticking over after over, without unnecessary flashiness or risks serves its chances better. Similarly, a prudent investment strategy should make your money needs to grow consistently, with lower volatility, giving you much peace of mind.

 

Paul Samuelson’s advice – “Investing should be more like watching paint dry or watching grass grow. If you want excitement, take $800 and go to Las Vegas”.

 

 

  1. ACTIVELY MANAGE ASSET ALLOCATION – Test cricket doesn’t have slog overs or power plays, instead, conditions determine how the game needs to be played

 

Test cricket doesn’t have pre-set match templates, needing one to score more in the early or late overs. Right from the decision post the toss, its about watching conditions and adapting your game accordingly. Similarly, when it comes to investing, there is no absolute good or bad asset class. Managing Asset Allocation on an ongoing basis is key to a stable and successful investment portfolio.

 

David I. Lampe reminds us what our parents also used to say “Asset Allocation is not that different from what mom told us growing up: don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

 

 

  1. ADEQUATELY DIVERSIFY – Test cricket requires a full complement of quality players, each of whom is a specialist. In the shorter form, you can make do with pinch-hitters and all-rounders.

 

While in a shorter format, teams can get away in games with a few multi-talented players, in test cricket, even one weak link gets shown up over the course of the match. Every player is important and needs to bring to the ground specialist skills that will help the team prevail over the other. Similarly, a good investment portfolio is adequately-diversified to take care of risk (while not being over-diversified to dilute quality), and does not depend only on a few concentrated bets to deliver, while the rest of the portfolio underperforms.

 

Chris Lutz says “The purpose of diversification is so that when one investment goes down or is not doing well, you are insulated from the result because of the others you have in place.”

 

 

  1. STAY THE COURSE – Lastly, Test cricket is about winning the series. There can be comebacks, though difficult. Unlike in the shorter form, where one bad day can send you out of the World Cup.

 

Lastly, Test cricket is unique in that, it gives you a second chance. A bad day at work (or in the market) doesn’t send you home (or wipe you out). Similarly, Investing is about having a well-planned and adaptable strategy, not making catastrophic mistakes while learning from the smaller ones (not just yours) and staying the course even when things look bad.

 

Let me end with Peter Lynch’s wise words on staying the course “You get recessions, you have stock market declines. If you don’t understand that’s going to happen, then you are not ready, you won’t do well in the markets.”

 

 

Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both NRI and resident individuals and families plan for their financial goals, follow their passions and achieve financial independence.

To receive our articles through email, pl subscribe here.

For advice, please reach us at getfinwise@finwise.in or +91 9870702277/9820818007.

 

 

Image credits: Rahul Dravid – Photo Division, Ministry of I&B, Govt. of India, through Google (labelled for reuse); MS Dhoni – Wikipedia, through Google (labelled for reuse)

6 reasons why you still haven’t given time to manage your finances and 1 reason why you should

6 reasons why you still haven’t given time to manage your finances and 1 reason why you should

So, what gets people to have a serious look at their finances and take some concrete steps towards assessing their financial position and formulating a plan for their financial security?

 

Of course, there are some people who are “born” meticulous and organized and hence have their plans all chalked out. But for most of us (based on our experiences), it usually doesn’t happen gradually, rather needs a trigger of some sort in our lives. The trigger could be some sort of personal experience or something that has happened with someone close, or even the sudden unpleasant remembrance of some childhood memory.

 

But until this happens, managing your own money takes a back-seat, while prioritizing work, family, current needs, perceived emergencies and in the absence of all this, pure lethargy. So, here are six reasons why many still haven’t got around to putting their finances in order, and one reason why some have.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. “Whats the hurry? My goals are far away, I have enough time on my side” – THE CAREFREE

Some of us typically think we have a lot of time, and many a times mistake urgent for important. We avoid contemplating the future, thinking that it has a way of sorting itself out. We usually need some unpleasant shock to make us realize that the future is something that doesn’t just happen, but needs to be planned for.

 

 

 

  1. “I know I have to save, but I don’t have any savings left after I pay my EMIs!” THE OVERSTRETCHED

Some of us love running after material acquisitions. We hanker after the latest gadgets. We usually also end up having a lot of unsecured debt (either a personal loan or revolving debt on our credit cards) because we keep running into sudden cash-flow issues. For us, planning horizons are not long.

 

 

 

  1. “I know it’s important, but am too caught up right now, will do it as soon as I can” THE ALWAYS-ON-THE-TREADMILL

Many of realize the importance of putting our finances in order, but somehow never seem to think it important enough to be top of the list. We would be putting in 12 hours at work and still think that’s not enough to meet our commitments. Somehow, crises have a way of finding us and keeping us always in fire-fighting mode.

 

 

 

  1. “I have checked with my friend, colleague as well as online, I just don’t know whose advice is right!” THE CONFUSED

Then there are some of us who will ask, then validate, then re-validate and then re-re-validate. We will seek inputs from the colleague, the friend, the neighbourhood uncle and maybe then go online to check whether we are missing a point of view. Trusting someone and taking decisions doesn’t come easy to us.

 

 

 

  1. “I am sorted, I have invested my savings in some hot stocks and I also have these 2 apartments” – THE KNOW-IT-ALL

A few are us are those who are both knowledgeable and also proud of our knowledge. We will be clear on why things are and how they are going to unfold. We usually have strong views of our own on money and investments eg. owning multiple houses through leverage since we believe we “understand” real estate, buying some stocks because “they are tipped to do well”, and so on.

 

 

 

  1. “I think this is not the right time, market is too high, it might crash” – THE PERFECTIONIST

And then, there are some of us who understand both the need to keep their finances in order and can see the benefits of doing so, but just are waiting for the “right time”. For us, the market is either “too high” and likely to fall, or “too low” and therefore may not go up in a hurry. Strangely, we don’t have a problem seeing our money idle in the bank while we make up our mind.

 

 

 

  1. “I know time is important, every day lost is lost forever. I am in it for the long haul” – THE MARATHONER

Then, finally there are a few of us who understand the value of time and the benefits of long-term-investing. At the same time, we take our time to ask the right questions, understand the value of financial planning, and then quickly get into action mode. Lastly, we are disciplined, at least about money, and once we make up our mind, we trust our judgement and get on with it. Truly, we are called a “planner’s delight”.

 

 

 

So, do some of these “reasons” seem familiar? Which one is yours? Most people we see have more than one, sometimes even a few of these. But importantly, it is when you put on the last “reasoning hat”, that things start moving for you on the personal finances front. For some its timely, for some late, but as the popular saying goes, better late than never.

 

 

Image credit: Anemone123%, Pixabay

 

 

Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both NRI and resident individuals and families plan for their financial goals, follow their passions and achieve financial independence.

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For advice, please reach us at getfinwise@finwise.in or +91 9870702277/9820818007.

The Finwise Take on Budget 2020-21

The Finwise Take on Budget 2020-21

Over the years, the significance of the Union Budget has come down and doesn’t have such an impact on our everyday lives, and hence doesn’t interest too many of us anymore. That said, there are still some, especially those in the finance businesses, for whom listening to the Budget is a yearly ritual.

Budget 2020 and its impact on your personal financial plan

But given the negative news as well as poor economy numbers over the last couple of quarters, we would dare say that the FY21 Budget presented last week had more than a usual number of people waiting for it. For most, last week would have been one of anticipation for Saturday to arrive and hope that the finance minister has something up her sleeve to magically move the economy into 4th gear, trigger consumption, improve rural incomes, increase investment, ease credit flows and banking woes and overall reverse the prevailing sentiment, while of course ensuring that the fiscal deficit doesn’t scarily worsen.

Many articles have already dissected the Budget presentation as well as the detailed document post that, so we will not attempt a repeat of that. But even for the most disinterested observers, the least they would have expected is how the budget will put more money into our pocket or at least ease our difficulties in dealing with taxes. So, we have looked at how this year’s budget has panned out for your personal finances and identified 6 changes which could affect you personally.

 

 

  1. Changes in Income Tax structure

Who doesn’t love choices? Whether its plain simple breakfast or choosing your next outfit we love it when we have choice, don’t we? However, that doesn’t seem to apply to Taxation structures. This year’s budget has changed the tax slabs but left the choice of sticking to the previous tax slabs or switching to the new ones to you. The catch is if you switch to the new tax slabs, you cannot avail of any of the deductions & exemptions currently available. Here is a quick look at the tax slabs that are currently in existence and the new ones which you can choose to switch to.

 

How do you decide which of the two options you should choose? What you need to look at is the deductions and exemptions you are currently availing of. The most popular ones being

  1. Rs 1.5 lakh under 80 C, the default option for most being EPF (ELSS, PPF, Life Insurance, School fees, Principal repayment of home-loan etc)
  2. Medical insurance premium under section 80D of Rs 25,000 for self and Rs 50,000 for senior citizen parents (total of Rs 1,00,000 if both self and parents are senior citizens)
  3. Additional deduction of Rs 50,000 for investments in NPS
  4. Deduction of 2L on interested paid on a home loan under section 24(b)

 

Prevailing & Proposed Optional Income Tax Slabs proposed in Budget 2020

Broadly, if you are claiming home loan interest deduction apart from 80C, you are better off with the previous tax slabs. But if you are not and do not have default investments like EPF for claiming deductions under section 80C and you are currently investing in products especially for the deductions, you can opt for the new slabs.

 

Finwise Take While there is a choice being given currently, the intention clearly articulated has been to move away in the coming future from the exemption and deductions being offered currently. Given this scenario, if you are buying a house or starting a new NPS account primarily to avail of the exemption you may want to rethink your decision.

Currently, a large number of investment decisions are made (and products are sold) at the last moment, primarily on their tax-saving features. We think this is a good step since the products thus bought will pass the tests of suitability towards risk profile and time horizon, and will help investors create substantially more wealth than now. You would be better off seeking the help of a financial advisor to help you make the right decisions customised to your needs, especially given the above.

 

 

  1. Increased insurance cover for FDs

Currently each depositor in a bank is insured upto Rs 1,00,000 inclusive of both principal and interest. This budget has increased this insurance limit to Rs 5,00,000, and this would help increase coverage and bring a greater number of impacted people under the insurance fold in case of bank defaults. This will give a lot of comfort, especially to senior citizens, for whom this is the investment of choice.

 

Finwise Take While increased insurance cover is a welcome step, it can give investors, especially senior citizens who look for that extra percentage point to prop up their meagre savings, a false sense of security about otherwise “dangerous” investment options in this space.

Our belief is that this insurance benefit is a “perceived” comfort. This insurance is payable by the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation of India, a subsidiary of the RBI. DICGC will wait for the “defaulter” bank to be liquidated and de-registered, post which the DICGC receives claims from the banks and then pays out the claims, post necessary validations. The wait can be many years for impacted customers, and this risk is definitely not worth taking for extra percentage point of interest.

Our advice to our customers has always been to be safe with debt investments and not take any kind of risk with debt. Credit risk while investing in banks like PMC was ignored and has now come to the forefront. Insurance or no insurance, it is important not be lured by a few percentage points higher return. We often tell our customers to beware of higher interest rates, which some banks or institutions are offering, since higher-then-prevailing interest rate means higher than intended risk, which is opaque to the retail investor and our stance holds going forward too.

 

 

  1. TDS introduced for FDs in cooperative banks

Now, cooperative banks will also need to deduct tax at source on fixed deposits and recurring deposits if the interest exceeds 40K (50K for Senior citizens).

 

Finwise Take Earlier this was another big draw for investors to invest in co-operative bank FDs, apart from the higher interest rates. This welcome move will encourage people to think beyond tax and interest rate, while choosing their bank for FDs.

 

 

  1. Cap of 7.5L on exemption to retirement contribution by employer

As of now employer contributes 12% of basic towards EPF, Rs. 1,50,000 towards super annuation and 10% of basic towards NPS, and any amount of contribution to retirement benefits is exempt from income tax ie. is deducted from your gross income to calculate taxable income. The new budget has introduced a cap to this exemption, from the next FY, only contributions upto Rs 7,50,000 put together towards all retirement benefits will be exempt and any contribution over and above that will be taxed at your slab rate.

 

Finwise Take This is a big change and has a significant impact on high net-worth individuals having corporate careers. Senior corporate professionals earning approx. Rs 1 cr or above are likely to be impacted by this while, of course, actual impacts will be dependent on individual salary structures. For eg. someone earning a basic of Rs 2,50,000 per month, will have an annual retirement benefit contribution of Rs 8.1 lakh (assuming contributions to all 3 benefits – EPF, Super-annuation & NPS), and will cross this tax-exempt threshold. For people with such high salaries, this will mean rejigging compensation structures to reduce institutionalized retirement benefits, which in turn will have the negative impact of also reducing the retirement corpuses that these benefits create, requiring such individuals to plan better individually for their retirement.

 

 

  1. No more Dividend Distribution Tax

Currently, dividends received from shares and mutual funds are not taxed in your hands, they are paid post payment of DDT. DDT for shares is 20.56%, equity mutual funds is 11.64% and debt mutual funds is 29.12% before paying out the dividends. With new budget provision the dividend will be added to your income and taxed as per your income slab.

 

Finwise Take While this is a welcome step for corporates, especially MNCs, since dividend income to MNC shareholders was earlier taxed and is now free, it not such good news for retail investors, especially those in the higher tax brackets.

If you have a largely direct-equity portfolio, the dividend yield will fall substantially. You should consider shifting to equity mutual funds under the growth option where the tax outflow is capped at 10% long-term capital gain, that too on redemption, for investments over one year.

If you have invested in equity mutual funds (both pure equity & equity hybrid) in the dividend option, you should shift to the growth option immediately, for reasons similar to above, since the differential impacts here are even higher than in direct equity.

For debt mutual funds, the approach was dual. For people either in lower tax brackets or for long-term debt allocations (> 3 years), it always made sense to remain in growth, since both tax slab rate and LTCG on debt is lower. Whereas only for investors in the highest tax slab for short term investments (< 3 years), dividend option was better, since the STCG on debt is as per tax slab. With this change now, across the board, growth is the option to go with in debt mutual funds.

Also, one needs to remember that this has made tax-returns filing a bit more cumbersome, since dividend incomes now need to be added to overall incomes to calculate taxes, which earlier was not the case, with DDT.

Just in case an investor in the lower tax bracket is holding on to debt funds under the dividend scheme (due to poor advice or ignorant purchase), they will be hugely benefited as they would need to pay tax as per slab which is lower than the 29.12% being paid by the debt funds.

 

 

  1. Key changes for NRIs

Announcements in this section set the cat among the pigeons for NRIs, before clarifications led to clarity and calm. Some key changes

  • Taxation of global incomes of NRIs who are not tax-resident in any other country
  • Definition of Resident-tax – 120 or more days in India (reduced from earlier 182 days)
  • Definition of Resident but not ordinarily-resident – transition period increased to 4 years (from earlier 2 years)

 

Finwise Take → After giving a big scare to NRIs based out of the Middle East regarding taxing global income, there has been clarity that global income of residents of any country will not be taxed. While this doesn’t impact people resident in tax-free countries, people working in the merchant navy etc. may be impacted, since their long-period travels across the world may lead them to fall into this category of Non-Resident Indian but not resident of any other country.

In addition, such people will be doubly impacted by the second clause above, since they need to ensure they live in India for less than 120 days to classify as non-resident, as against 182 days earlier.

The last clause above is beneficial for NRI’s returning to India after living abroad for many years since it will give them more time without taxing their global income.

 

 

Do note that these are broad-based observations and not necessarily one-size-fits-all, do consult your financial planner / advisor for customized advice on your particular situation.

 

 

Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both NRI and resident individuals and families plan for their financial goals, follow their passions and achieve financial independence.

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For advice, please reach us at getfinwise@finwise.in or +91 9870702277/9820818007.

Why discussing finances is mutually beneficial for spouses

Why discussing finances is mutually beneficial for spouses

I always wonder why it is so difficult to talk about money even with your spouse. You are comfortable talking about almost anything under the sun, but talking about money seem petty and crass. To my surprise some women refuse to do it even when they have a gun to their heads.

 

Why should you wait to be pushed against the wall to have a conversation? Marriages are meant to last a lifetime and it is impossible to traverse this journey without discussing money. At some point of time in a relationship one needs to move from Mine to Ours.

 

Read our latest article, published on Moneycontrol.com

https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/personal-finance/money-matters-why-discussing-finances-is-mutually-beneficial-for-spouses-4877221.html

 

Image credit: Moneycontrol.com

 

Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both NRI and resident individuals and families plan for their financial goals, follow their passions and achieve financial independence.

To receive our articles through email, pl subscribe here.

For advice, please reach us at getfinwise@finwise.in or +91 9870702277/9820818007.

Protect your loved ones from lifelong guilt – have the conversation

Protect your loved ones from lifelong guilt – have the conversation

The last couple of weeks has seen a couple of friends go through unimaginable trauma. Can you imagine helplessly watching your parent slip away bit by bit? One would think what a terrible thing, there can be nothing worse than going through this. But there is! What if the decision of continuing further aggressive medication and lifesaving treatment (albeit with highly degraded quality of life) or letting your loved one go with basic treatment rests with you? Suddenly the situation is many times worse!

 

Huge dilemma, right? It is natural to wonder what the sick person would have wanted in such a situation. Why then, is it so difficult to have a conversation about death and disease with our loved ones? Somehow our culture forbids us from talking about these unpleasant situations. Even if you broach the topic, you are likely to the shooed away saying “yeh kya apshakun bol rahe ho?”. It is almost as if you are inviting death and disease just by talking about it.

 

A small minority does think of what happens to their material wealth post death and manages to make a will. While this is a very important step, and everyone must do so, is it not our responsibility to ease the guilt and emotional trauma for our loved ones? All one needs to do is to have a conversation on what you would like them to do in case you are to be put on life support or given aggressive treatment which will reduce the quality of life.

 

When you are sick, they may choose not to follow your wishes. If they do, they will live guilt-free that this is something you would have wanted for yourself had you had your mental faculties intact to decide. As against not knowing and doubting if they should pursue all means possible to keep you alive and living with the guilt of ‘not trying enough’ if they choose to relieve you of your suffering.

 

While we are on this topic, it would be good to dwell upon a document called “living will”. A living will is a document that sets out a patient’s wishes regarding how they want to be treated if they are seriously ill. It allows a person the right to die with dignity.

 

In March 2018, the Supreme Court of India passed a landmark judgement, where it recognised that a terminally ill patient or a person in a persistent vegetative state has the right to die with dignity, and to do this the person will have to have executed a living will.

 

The difference between having a conversation with your loved ones on what you would like them to do if you are seriously ill and have no scope of recovery and any treatment that would prolong your life is likely to compromise heavily on the quality of life versus making a living will is stark. In the first case, all that the loved ones can do is decide not to pursue aggressive treatment and let time take its course. Whereas in the case of a living will, subject to a lot of conditions, including having a board of doctors granting permission, among others, it is possible to end one’s life immediately without any suffering.

 

The concept of a living will is new to India, and while being a step in the right direction, it remains to be seen how it practically pans out. It is for you to evaluate whether it makes sense or not to go for a living will. However, having the crucial conversation with your immediate family (spouse, children, siblings, parents) is non-negotiable. Let’s put aside our inhibitions to do just that, this week.

 

Image Credit: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay

 

Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both NRI and resident individuals and families plan for their financial goals, follow their passions and achieve financial independence.
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For advice, please reach us at getfinwise@finwise.in or +91 9870702277/9820818007.

“What problem of mine can you help me solve?”

“What problem of mine can you help me solve?”

It is that time of the year, when everyone seems to be in a bit of a party mode. It is also that time of the year, when increasingly, school/college friends are meeting up for reunions! I was at one such reunion a couple of weeks back, and, as is oft the case, was meeting some friends after many many years. After many hugs and a few jugs of beer, during which time we reminisced about old times, discussions veered towards the serious stuff, including politics, the economy as well as catching up on each of us, both on the personal and professional front.

 

With everyone’s kids around similar age bands, there was some serious collective letting-off of steam about the pressures involved in being parents to children who preparing for their Std X or XII exams (Eg. don’t ever remember studying so much even for an engineering paper in our 3rd year as compared to what kids nowadays have to do for a Std X paper, OR how the current standard of Maths and Science in Std X is akin to what was done in 1st or 2nd year graduate courses in our generation!)

 

Things then moved on to what we were doing on the professional front and how we were coping with the pressures on the job, the state of the economy, and so on. I had left my corporate career to join my spouse in our small personal financial planning and advisory business and when I explained that I was a financial planner, there were the usual reactions – how exciting it must be to be on our own, how courageous we were to have taken such a step, some questions on how I was liking it, etc.

 

Of course, there were some who also wanted to know what exactly financial planning was, and what exactly it was that I do, which again is something that I am (by now) used to. I then (as usual, passionately) launched into a description of what we do as financial planners, how it helps people, and what our typical assignments are. Things took an interesting twist, when one of them asked a very interesting question – “What problem of mine can you help me solve?”

 

While I of course answered the question and the follow-ups that came post that, it set me thinking. As I have discovered over the past many months, over various interactions with customers and others, financial planning means different things to different people. Importantly, it actually is “solving different problems” for different people, as long as the problems related to money. In fact, it actually doesn’t matter what I say I do as a financial planner, as long as people, including my customers see that I am helping them solve some money problem of theirs, which for them becomes “their understanding” of financial planning.

 

So, what “money problems” can a good financial planner-adviser help you solve?

 

 

The “LIVING BEYOND MEANS” problem

A few people we meet are earning well and spending even better. No, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have any savings or assets, just that they underestimate the needs of the future while getting hooked onto today’s pleasures. For such a person, a financial planner acts as a quick wake-up call, who puts things in perspective, and is a catalyst for habit changes.

 

 

The “TOO BUSY TO GIVE TIME” problem

Quite a few people we see are financially prudent, but are successful individuals, so caught up in their day-to-day work and life that they are simply are unable to spend quality time on growing their money. Their investment decisions therefore are impulsive, driven by products that get sold to them or event-driven eg. taxation insurance. They end up collecting a disparate set of investments, lacking purpose and inefficient in performance. In such cases, a good financial planner can help become both the filter to weed out wrongly-sold or ill-intended products as well as the channel to invest their money in vehicles that are both risk-appropriate and goal-appropriate.

 

 

The “INCORRECT ASSET MIX” problem

Many customers in the middle years bracket (age 40-50, double incomes, good jobs) are reasonably secure on the wealth creation and savings front. Like most of their generation, they own multiple houses, and while these were popular investment avenues, they are not necessarily the right asset-mix for future goals like children’s education and retirement, due to their illiquidity, as well as the current question-mark on long-term appreciation prospects. For such customers, a good financial planner helps them restructure their portfolio, keeping their risk profile and goal horizons in mind.

 

 

The “WHERE TO INVEST” problem

Some customers we meet are both personal finance savvy and investment-aware, meaning they have a good handle on their financial position as well as understand most investment asset classes and their risk features. That said, they lack the time as well as inclination to identify the right products, which will give them the right performance metrics while keeping in mind their interests and their risk appetite. In such situations, a good financial advisor helps provide the right mix of adequately diversified high-quality products to meet their needs.

 

 

The “NEED PEACE OF MIND” problem

Lastly, a few are completely sorted and only need a bouncing board to help validate their approach as well as decisions. Some may be good on the financial investments front but are inadequately prepared to face unplanned challenges in their life in case of unforeseen events. For such people, a good financial planner provides peace of mind and a tangible improvement in quality of life by allowing them to outsource their worrying nature as well as the outside chances of having uncovered risks.

 

 

Whichever it is, suffice it to say that a good financial planner/advisor’s primary role is to “solve money problems”. So, rather than try and understand from prospective financial advisors what they do, ask them – “What problem of mine can you help solve?”

 

Credit: M, a good friend from college whose pertinent question not only made me pen this, but also helped hone our customer propositions.

 

Image credit: Mohd. Hasan, Pxhere

 

Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both NRI and resident individuals and families plan for their financial goals, follow their passions and achieve financial independence.

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For advice, please reach us at getfinwise@finwise.in or +91 9870702277/9820818007.

3 easy ways to know if your financial advisor is good for you

3 easy ways to know if your financial advisor is good for you

In a recent article, we shared 3 simple approaches that can help you determine whether you need a financial planner/advisor. But once you decide you need one (or already have one), how do you know whether he or she is giving you your money’s worth, if not more?

 

Personal Finance advisors who manage money range across a broad spectrum of names. A few of these are Financial Advisor, Investment Consultant, Wealth Advisor, Financial Planner, Relationship Manager, etc. Unfortunately, while there are certifications and qualifications* that can help customers determine whether the advisor is actually an “expert”, the awareness about these are very low and the average customer has no clue about these.

 

* Some (but not all) of these qualifications are CFP (Certified Financial Planner, issued by Financial Standards Planning Board, USA), CWM (Chartered Wealth Manager, issued by American Academy of Financial Management) and RIA (Registered Investment Advisor, issued by SEBI).

 

So, how can a customer determine whether the “advisor” is qualified to give him advice and is experienced enough to be able to manage his investments? Here are 3 easy ways for you to check whether the financial advisor is right for you.

 

 

  1. The advisor asks you “What’s the goal/purpose for the investment?”

 

In our experience, most retail investors start investing as and when they have savings, based on advice that they get from whoever they know. Many a times, they discover the need for an advisor when there is a “penny-drop” moment in their lives, usually due to some realization eg. need to plan for child’s education, lost a significant sum of money in some investment, etc.

  • In either case, a genuine advisor will try to understand your goals and aspirations. Money is usually itself never the purpose (for investing), it needs to be put to good use to achieve some personal milestone for you.
  • It’s the job of a good advisor to understand your current financial health, and where needed, suggest re-structuring for your existing investments to align with your goals
  • Lastly, a good advisor will prioritize your goals and create an overall financial plan for you, that will act as your financial road-map

 

  1. The advisor says “I need to know more about you to suggest the right investments”

 

While the phrase “every customer is unique” sounds cliched, it is something that definitely needs to be borne in mind when it comes to personal finances. Your personal experiences with money, along with your financial health determine your risk-profile which, when combined with your goals, makes you unique.

  • A good advisor will spend time understanding you and your personal experiences with money, so that over time, he is able to address your fears and concerns about money.
  • He will help you understand your risk capacity (your financial ability to take risk) and your risk tolerance (the risk you are willing to take basis your personal experiences/biases), which together form your risk appetite
  • He will then suggest the right “Asset Allocation” as per risk profile and accordingly invests across asset-classes, while keeping in mind your goals. He will also come back to tell you basis your risk profile if some goals are unachievable, unless you are willing to take some higher risks

 

  1. The advisor says “I charge a fee, my advice is not free”

 

For us as advisors, one key moment when we know that a customer may not be suitable for us, is when we talk about fees. Quite a few customers balk at the idea of paying a fee, understandably so, when there would be many so-called “financial advisors” who don’t charge.

  • A good financial advisor is as much a qualified professional as a respected doctor, lawyer or chartered accountant is. He therefore charges a fee for his time and advice
  • That said, a good financial advisor also clearly explains the value that he would be able to deliver for the fee that is getting charged, so that the customer understands clearly what he is getting
  • Lastly, a good financial advisor operates in a structured manner – recorded/documented conversations, in-writing recommendations along with rationales, periodic reporting and pre-planned financial reviews, all of which mean that the number of hours that the advisor puts in for you behind you is far more than the mere conversations that he has with you

 

So, next time you feel the need to hire a financial advisor, and are short-listing one, understand how many of the above boxes does he or she tick? Alternately, use the above to understand for yourself whether your current financial advisor meets the grade, or do you need to find a new one.

 

Image Credit: Tim Graf, Unsplash

 

Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both NRI and resident individuals and families plan for their financial goals, follow their passions and achieve financial independence.

To receive our articles through email, pl subscribe here.

For advice, please reach us at getfinwise@finwise.in or +91 9870702277/9820818007.