I am a Chemical Technologist by education. I worked with Marico Ltd. And Hindustan Unilever Ltd. as Production Executive for 3 years. Always wanting to do something of my own and heavily influenced by the literature of Swami Vivekananda and the books of Robert Kiyosaki, I left job in 2011 and began working on a business with one of my friends.
The business didn’t take off as expected and we had to close it after one and half years. This left me heavily in debt and with no cash flow. I had also taken personal loans for my sister’s marriage and renovation of our ancestral home few months before I left job. The EMI burden of these loans further added to my financial distress.
Not willing to join any job again, I took up LIC agency in 2012 for temporary source of income. I started reading about personal finance thereafter and began exploring personal finance blogs and websites. During this time I came across Ashal Jauhari of facebook group Asan Ideas for Wealth on the personal finance blog Jagoinvestor.com. Ashal was pretty active on Jagoinvestor.com that time and used to answer most of the readers’ queries posted on the blog. But his activity began going down in the second half of 2013. When I inquired about it, he said that he is busy with his own facebook group. I asked if I could join his group and he happily added me to Asan Ideas for Wealth (AIFW).
AIFW opened whole new world of personal finance to me. I had already discovered subramoney.com by then and had greedily read it for a week doing nothing else. I had also downloaded free personal finance calculators available on freefincal.com. Both P.V. Subramanyam of subramoney.com and Pattabiraman Murari of freefincal.com were active on AIFW. Some quality DIY (Do It Yourself) investors as well as some of the well established financial advisers were also equally active on the group. AIFW Discussions were fascinating and of immense educational value at the same time.
Subramoney.com, freefincal.com and Jagoinvestor.com increased my knowledge of personal finance but also put dent in my conviction in conventional insurance policies I was selling at the time. AIFW hammered the last nail in the coffin of insurance selling for me.
I stopped selling LIC policies shortly thereafter and that lead to the termination of my LIC agency in the third year of my agency. I had started selling health insurance policies by this time and had also become a Mutual Fund distributor. With Mutual Fund, I finally entered something I enjoyed doing. I had never enjoyed insurance selling.
Unlike insurance, Mutual Fund selling doesn’t involve manipulation of investors, telling half-truths and lying through numbers. There is lot more to mutual fund investing than merely knowing design of the products and ability to throw jargon at investors. Holistic financial planning comes into play with mutual fund investing and I loved it.
I further increased my study of personal finance and investing. In fact it became the principal activity of my life. I increasingly focused my energy into mutual fund and slowly got out of health insurance by shifting all my health insurance clients to one senior health insurance agent in my city dealing exclusively in health insurance.
The more I studied investing, the more I realized the damage heavy costs can cause in investing. I increasingly found it difficult to avoid talking about direct plans of Mutual Funds where investors can reduce cost of investing by bypassing commission. I have always found it extremely difficult to offer my clients one option when I am aware about a better option available for them. And therefore not talking about the superiority of direct plans in mutual fund investing used to trouble me emotionally.
I was fully convinced that direct mode of investing coupled with fee only model of advisory is the best option that an investor can have and I could very well offer it to my clients. My continued study of personal finance had also made me competent enough to work as an adviser by now. So I began thinking of moving to the fee only model of advisory by applying for SEBI registration as an Investment Adviser.
In Feb 2017 I cleared mandatory exams for RIA (Registered Investment Advisor) registration and then waited till August 2017 to fulfill 5 year minimum experience criteria before applying for the registration. I used the time in between to increase my competence. I still don’t feel that I know enough and therefore keep working on my knowledge of personal finance. This is a journey and not a destination.
In the meanwhile I continued to suffer financially because of my refusal to sell insurance policies (barring health insurance and term insurances) and low income from Mutual Fund selling in the initial years. I had to live on borrowed money for more than 3 and half years.
My financial situation began recovering after I got married in Nov.2014. My wife is teacher in one of the reputed private schools in Nagpur. I finally came out the financial mess after my father bailed me out of all my debt from his retirement proceeds in mid-2015 .
The period of my troubled finances taught me a lot about the value of money. It changed my whole perspective about money. I first hand experienced the havoc lack of money can wrought into any person’s life. As a financial adviser, I am in a position to save some of the people from falling into this terrible situation and I want to do that to the best of my ability.
Where most financial advisers prefer working with higher earning clients, I am willing to work with lower income clients as well since their need for financial hand holding is perhaps higher than the well to do members of the society. Pricing of fee is always an issue with lower income groups but that can be worked out.