Category Archives: Finance

Critial Illness: What a Disaster!

http://www.kollewin.com/EX/09-15-00/key-man-critical-illness-insurance.jpgUrsula K. LeGuin quotes “The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.”

 

I agree with Ursula K. LeGuin for critical illness could strike anyone at anytime and in any place with the modern trend of rise in lifestyle diseases that call for prompt and costly medical care. The necessity of critical insurance or health insurance with critical illness riders was strengthened with my friend Mr. Karthik being diagnosed with multiple blocks in his heart that involved a treatment of 3lac. Then one more friend told us all about the necessity of critical illness insurance and health insurance with critical illness.

 

Understanding all about critical insurance and health insurance with critical insurance riders would tell us that most such health insurance policies would cover 12 critical illness besides others. They could include heart attack, coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG), cancer, kidney failure, stroke, coma, liver failure, primary pulmonary arterial hypertension, multiple sclerosis, major organ transplant, aorta graft surgery and total blindness.

 

These diseases and surgical procedures could be wanted by anyone, at any time and anywhere and hence cannot be neglected at all. Health insurance companies generally undertake to pay a lump sum for the treatment of these diseases irrespective of the amount spent. Some companies may include such coverage on payment of additional premium every year. This could vary from company to company and also between companies dealing in life and general insurance.

 

Features of Critical Illness Insurance

 

  • It is quite possible to take up critical insurance policies or health insurance with critical insurance riders. When a critical insurance policy is taken the entire amount of the sum assured is paid on treatment of the critical insurance irrespective of the amount actually spent. Such a policy is a benefit plan.

 

  • The benefit payment under the Policy will generally be paid to you on survival for more than 30 days on post diagnosis of the critical illness.

 

  • However critical illness insurance will not cover ordinary hospitalization and medical expenses. While health insurance policies with critical illness riders would offer extra protection against critical illnesses with payment of additional premium. They would also pay the lump sum on the treatment of the critical illness.

 

  • However one needs to understand that critical illness insurance does not have any maturity value and just offer cover in case of critical illness. Such amounts may lapse on their not occurring. Life insurance policies offering critical insurance riders have a maturity value but no maturity value is allotted for riders. Riders merely cover the risk of critical insurance. However this need not deter one from taking up critical illness insurance, as it is well worth to cover risk of high expenses with critical illness.

 

  • Having a look into the premium on these policies would give us information that the amount of premium on critical illness insurance and riders for critical illness would vary depending on the age of the insured and the illnesses that are covered.
  • Critical illness insurance could have exclusive coverage for all critical diseases or for only some, the terms and conditions varying from company to company. A check would prove useful before taking up a critical illness insurance or life insurance with critical illness riders.
  • Tax benefits under Sec 80D or Sec 80C of the Income Tax Act are available.

Get critical insurance today

“Caution is a most valuable asset in fishing, especially if you are the fish.”

I am sure you would not prefer to be the fish that is not cautious, for life is so sweet and short. Mr. Karthik and his family are now out to advice families like them, for they believe their experience could educate others too.

What are you waiting for to take protection today? Information is nothing more than mental garbage if it doesn’t transfer an individual. Unimplemented knowledge is a burden. Our problem is not ignorance; but inaction. Don’t fall into this trap.

One of these days is none of these days; today is the day to start the big job. Just browse the net, discuss with financial planners for better understanding of the coverage required and product clarity, and get quotes and rest in peace with the best critical illness insurance for you.

 

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at ramalingam@holisticinvestment.in.

Child Plan: Is that REALLY worth for your kids?

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I am reminded of a Tamil saying, “Experience what it is to build a house, and get a child married”, probably that is the reason why wise parents invest to meet the long term financial obligations like education and marriage cost of their children. In addition the rising inflation rate also calls for starting savings early in a child’s life. However it would be advisable to know, evaluate and compare various means of savings. This could also enlighten you about how “child plans” need not be the only method.

 

Disadvantages of a Readymade “Child Plan”

v  “Child plans” with insurance resemble unit linked insurance plans, starting early in a child’s life and ending only when the child attains maturity.  The amount of money invested in these plans is insignificant considering an in-built insurance component, and other charges like premium allocation charges that are the commission paid to distributors. This could lead to low return in the initial stages and additional losses on leaving before completion of the tenure.

 

v  Most of the “Child plans” in the industry comes with a catchy name to capitalize the “Child sentiment” in us.

 

v  We need a different medicine for a kid and adult. But do we necessarily need a different type of investment options for securing a kid’s future. Think.

 

Alternatives for Child Plan:

 

v  It is to be noted that other investment products like Public Provident Fund, National Savings Certificate, National Savings Scheme, RBI bonds, post office deposits and instruments and mutual funds that serve the purpose of savings and increasing of capital value apply equally well to investment for a child’s future.

v  Mutual funds are available in a wide range to satisfy all appetites for risks. In addition there are mutual funds that are designed for meeting long term financial obligations of children.  One could also invest in funds with a right balance between debt and equity that promise better capital growth than child plans. It is also possible to go in for systematic investment plan that offers the opportunities of taking advantages of price differences and gaining in the long run.

v  It is true that systematic investment plans or SIP help save entry cost and build a habit of regular savings for capital growth to meet children’s financial obligations. It is also possible to avail of tax benefits as such funds are taxed only on maturity and a major child’s income would be taxed separately. I am sure you would agree that this would help saving unnecessary expenses and cuts in investing in child plans.

v  PPF or Public Provident Fund is also good as mutual funds, with opening a PPF account for a 20-year period in a child’s name helping to meet long time financial obligations of children.  It has been stipulated that an annual investment of just Rs.70000 would leave you with almost Rs.32lac as a result of the compounding effect. It is difficult for a “child plan” with insurance component and upfront charges to offer you such a great return without taking much of risk.

 

An Ideal Mix:

 

  • Instead of going for a “Readymade Child Plan”, one can customize their Investment Plan for their child with a combination of Term insurance, PPF and equity diversified funds.
  • If tax saving is your motive one can consider ELSS funds instead of a regular equity fund.
  • It gives you similar tax benefit like a child plan. You get 80 C benefits for your investments. Also the returns are also tax free.
  • At the same time, the charges are very very minimum and negligible when compared to “readymade child plans”.
  • You can increase or decrease your contribution every year depending upon your financial situation.

 

So whenever, you think of child plan think of a customized investment plan for your kid’s future with a mix of 2 or 3 investment options instead of  readymade product with a tag “Child Plan”.  I am sure you would agree that readymade child plans prove to be not ideal instruments to save. The wisest line of thought would be a mix of diversified investments that gives good return with low charges.

 

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at ramalingam@holisticinvestment.in.

Annual Bonuses Is The Time For Wise Money Management

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The month of annual bonuses seems like paradise when we start planning in advance on how to spend it. This excitement will get us into impulses of spending on things that give momentary pleasure only. This leaves us regretting for our decisions later. Wise money management and productively using annual bonuses will help us to take care of not just present needs but also of future needs and contingencies.

 

My idea of being a financially prudent and smart person would involve wise money management of bonus according to the life’s priorities and expenses. It is true worldwide that living in uncertain economic times after the global economic turndown, we all need to learn powerful lessons on wise money management. Every individual has his/her own peculiar set of priorities, but I believe that some suggestions would be well appreciated by all.

 

Ways that have helped in wise money management of annual bonuses include:

 

  • Tax planning has and will always play a role in saving taxes and making meaningful investments for the future such as investing in mutual funds, fixed deposits and insurance related investments to save taxes under Section 80C. However I would suggest investing in mutual funds is best done through Systematic Investment Plans (SIP) or Systematic Transfer Plans (STP) that is best accomplished with opting for systematic transfer of funds kept in a savings bank account spread over a year. This helps to take advantage of market fluctuations and get good returns.

 

  • I am sure we all realize the great benefit of living a life free of debt, than having to worry about expensive loans taken like credit card debts, personal loans, and low priced loans like education loans, home loans and vehicle loans. The priority should be on utilizing annual bonuses to first pay off loans carrying a high rate of interest, with it giving the advantage of saving on higher amount of money being paid towards interest on such loans.

 

  • Life has never been certain and it is futile to expect it to be certain at any time, so wise money management needs to take care of unexpected and expected contingencies that could arise at any time. Being financial smart requires every person to set aside at least 3 to 4 months of one’s monthly income for contingencies like loss of job, illness, and accidents that could leave you in a financial crunch for a few months. This is best accomplished with setting aside some portion of the annual productivity bonus towards the maintenance of a contingency fund in the form of liquid and semi liquid funds like mutual funds and bank deposits.

 

  • “Live in the present” is what many psychologists would tell you, but I would say it is best to take lessons from our past mistakes and set the stage to meet some of our future expenses and financial goals. The past is gone and would never come back again, but it is never too late to start saving for future goals like retirement, higher education of children, their marriage or maybe your goal to start a consultancy business based on your experiences. This requires carefully planning the period that you would not need the money and setting aside a portion of your annual productivity bonus in bonds and mutual funds with the correct allocation between equity and debt to meet your needs.

 

However I do not mean to say that enjoying life or luxuries like a dream vacation, an LCD TV or home theater should not be your cup of tea, because all of us earn and perform well at work to live life and not just to exist as some suppose. Enjoy your annual bonus king size with planning your financial priorities with the advice of your financial planner.

 

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at ramalingam@holisticinvestment.in.

 

A Financial Checklist While Switching Jobs

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“Careful planning is the key to safe and swift travel.” ULYSSES

This very much applies to the many especially young executives who look for lucrative and better job opportunities. But careful planning and following a financial checklist before one change a job can give them all the benefits of the change and more.

For the smooth transition from one job to the other you need to carefully attend to the points discussed in the below checklist.

1) Old Salary Account

Opening of a new salary account and the non-maintenance of the old accounts should be carefully considered. Most companies would require one to open a new salary account in the bank advised by them. This would leave one with an extra account to be maintained. The old account, which you have opened when you were in your earlier company, would after 3 months lose the benefit of zero balance of a salary account.

It would also seem unmanageable since regular operation of the account and maintenance of minimum balance may be difficult. Lack of regular maintenance and minimum balance could also invite penalty charges. In case of a non-operation for over 2 years the account could become dormant or inoperative, inviting additional yearly charges as a penalty and extra charges if average quarterly balance goes below the minimum amount that is set by the bank.

If your old salary account is linked to various investments (like Mutual funds, shares…) and loans, you may want to update the new salary account with the respective investment company and financial institutions.

2) EPF

A careful consideration has to be made regarding how to deal with Employees Provident Fund Corpus. Switching jobs suggests 2 ways of dealing with Employees Provident Fund Corpus. You could either transfer your existing account to the new employer or close the old account and open a new account.

However withdrawing the corpus and opening a new account could be time consuming taking between 3-6 months. In addition, you would be left with a smaller retirement corpus because you would lose on the advantages of the corpus compounding. You would also have to pay taxes if it is withdrawn before 5 years. So just transferring the corpus would give you better tax benefit and retirement benefit. This task is best left to the human resources department of both the old and new employers.

3) Health Insurance

You need to check up the features and benefits of the health insurance provided by your new employer. You need to compare these with the health insurance provided by your previous employer.

Especially you need to look into the features like the coverage amount, whether the coverage is on floating basis or individual basis, the total number of dependents covered, the list of hospitals for cash less facility.

One more important point to check is the availability of the health cover during the notification period. Notification period is the period between one submits the resignation letter and one gets actually relieved from the job. Normally it is 3 months period. Some employers don’t provide health cover to employees who are in the notification period. So before entering into the notification period, one needs to make alternative arrangement before entering into the notification period.

 

4) Tax Computation

 

Tax liability and exemptions form an important consideration while switching jobs. Most employers would be computing employees’ tax liability after taking into consideration the basic exemption limit of Rs.1.8lac and also the exemption availed under Section 80C.

 

So there is a possibility that your previous employer and present employer may give you these exemptions for the same financial year.  Making a job switch in the middle of the year involves making sure that the deductions and exemptions regarding tax liability are made only once.

 

Always report the income earned from your previous employer for that financial year to your new employer. This would avoid duplication; thereby making sure one is not taxed twice or given twice the benefit and having to pay the lump sum taxes later.

 

If you are not intimating your income from the previous employment to the current employer, then you may need to pay some penalty for non-payment of advance tax or TDS.

 

 

It proves essential to collect the Form 16 from ones past employer as a proof that one has received the tax benefits and paid the tax liabilities.

5) Retirals:

 

If you have worked for more than 5 years, then depends on the terms of your employment you will be eligible for gratuity, superannuation and other similar retirement benefits. Some schemes can be carried over to the next company and some other schemes need to be encashed when exiting a company. You need to pay attention to the details of these schemes before quitting your job.

 

How very true it is, “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now” Hence following all the steps of the financial checklist while switching jobs would make sure your journey from one job to another is smooth and trouble-free.

 

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Director and Chief Financial Planner of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at ramalingam@holisticinvestment.in

 

10 Commandments of Personal Finance

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We all work and earn money. Do we manage our hard earned money effectively and efficiently? New Year is the time to take resolutions. Why don’t you take a resolution to prioritize and organize your personal finance? Here are the 10 commandments of personal finance that can help you in managing your personal finance better.

 

1.       Create a budget

Most of us hesitate to make a budget because we think it is about cutting all the fun in life. Budgeting is not about cutting all the fun; it is about conscious allocation of funds. Once we start spending consciously, our mind will find out a whole new way of having fun within the budget. You need to create a workable budget that gives you extra money and life.

 

2.       Spend smarter and save more

Spending less and saving more are lifelong living skills that need time to develop. Unless and otherwise, you have a clear written budget, you will lose your focus and go after consumerism and materialism.

 

To save more, obviously you need to spend smarter. To spend smarter, you need to understand your own spending patterns. Consciously you need to track all your expenses on a daily or weekly basis. So that you can find out what influences your spending pattern and you can stay away from those influencers.

 

3.       Family protection

As a bread winner, you provide a lifestyle to your family. This life style need to be protected with sufficient life insurance cover. Otherwise your family may not be able to continue the same lifestyle in case of any mishappening to you. A word of caution here, don’t fall prey to ULIP schemes. Opt instead for a pure term insurance policy. These policies give you high coverage with low premium.

Also cover yourself and your family members with adequate health insurance coverage. The coverage amount of the health insurance policy needs to be decided based on your health consciousness, your family health history, and the class of hospital you choose for treatments.

4.       Asset protection

Before starting to build fresh wealth, it is our duty to protect our existing assets. Assets like house, flat, or car can be insured against accident and natural perils. The event of earthquake or terrorist attack to our flat/house seems to be remote. But the impact of such things could change our financial stability upside down. So protect your house and other major assets with proper insurance.

5.       Emergency reserve

You need to accrue savings for some surprise situations like loss of job, break in job or sudden expenses like a major repair to your car or house. Generally, the emergency fund needs to be in the range of three to six months’ family expenses. If you have created this contingency fund, in the event of an emergency you need not pre-close your other investments and thus you avoid paying penalty or booking losses.

 

6.       Debt payoff plan

If you are in debt, you need to create a debt payoff plan with different scenarios. So that you can find out how some more savings or a different repayment order will help you get out of debt faster. When creating a plan, you need to choose one which fits your attitude.

7.       Setout goals & layout plan

If you don’t know where you are going, you may end up somewhere you don’t want to be. Decide your financial goals first. It may be buying a home, buying a car, or children’s higher education.

To get where you want to go in life, it is important to decide in advance how you will get there. What you need is a roadmap, a financial plan to achieve your financial goals.

So create a financial plan for you and your family.

8.       Retirement plan

In spite of the world wide pension crisis and a growing acceptance that we must plan and save for our retirement, the harsh reality is we are actually not saving enough. Research reports reveal that only 15% of the individuals are saving sufficiently for their retired life. Don’t put off today what you can’t afford to do tomorrow. Do your retirement plan TODAY to have a comfortable and enjoyable retired life.

9.       Review

You need to check up your financial plan and investments semi-annually so that when there is any deviation from our original plan, you can take corrective measures to control the deviation.

10.   Work together with a professional financial planner

There is a lot of help available for you online to create a financial plan in various websites with financial calculators. But if you want to create a complete, comprehensive, customized and workable financial plan, you may seek assistance from professional financial planners.

You really need a professional assistance when you want to review your financial plan and investments, when you want to add a new goal, or when you want to pre pone or postpone one of your goals.

If you follow these simple but authentic 10 commandments, by next year you will be richer than what you are this year. Celebrate the New Year with much more confidence and peace of mind by following these simple steps for financial success.

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Director and Chief Financial Planner of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at ramalingam@holisticinvestment.in

Unusual Gift Ideas

http://www.diy-home-tips.com/images/unusual-gifts-to-make-and-buy-21549622.jpgSweets, crackers, gold coins, and jewels are the items which come to our mind when we think about Diwali gifts. Let me unbundle some unusual gift ideas for this Diwali here.

 

Gift ideas for children:

 

1)         Piggy bank:

This may not be a great idea. But can be done in a different fashion. That is you gift a piggy bank to a child with 90 one rupee coins. Set a target for the child to make it to Rs.100 in a month. This motivates the child to save Rs.10 extra to make it Rs.100. Like wise you can set a target for a year. Also announce some bonus when the child achieves a particular target. Say when it reaches Rs.1000 give the child a bonus of Rs.100. Idea is not only to gift the piggy bank and to encourage and motivate to save.

 

2)         Savings account for kids:

Open a savings account for the gift. It gives a great feeling to the gift, when the kid gets a bank account in his/her own name. Whatever cash gifts, the kid gets for Diwali, Christmas, New Year, birthday and other special occasion can be deposited in this account. Whenever, the account balance crosses a particular limit say Rs.10000 or Rs.25000 can be withdrawn and invested in mutual funds or FDs in the kids name.

 

This creates awareness among the kid about savings and investments. You are laying strong foundation on personal finance management for your kid.

 

3) Board Games:

There is a board game known as Trade or Business. Game like this will be of very helpful to the kids in understanding the value of money, buying assets, spending less, saving more, investing and the like.

 

There are also so many online games like this. These games can teach the complete money management in fun-filled way.

 

4)       Mutual Fund SIP:

You can start a mutual fund SIP in the name of the child. You contribute only for the first month installment and ask your kid to pay out of his or her pocket money for the subsequent installments. This way you will teach your kid about the stock market nuances also.

 

Gift ideas for the spouse:

 

1)         Life style Assurance:

How your spouse will feel when you give a gift that assures the present lifestyle forever. You are here today earning and providing a lifestyle to your family. If you retire, can the same lifestyle be maintained? If any mishappening to you in between, can the same lifestyle be maintained by your family?

 

To protect the lifestyle of your family after your retirement, you need to do a detailed retirement plan. I am not advocating here about unit linked pension plan. No. I am talking about a comprehensive retirement plan.

 

To protect the lifestyle of your family from your premature death, take a pure term insurance plan. I am not talking about ULIPs here. Pure term insurance plan. Calculate in detail your human life value and then cover that amount of value with a term insurance policy.

 

Professional financial planners will be of assistance to you in drawing a retirement plan as well as finding your human life value.

 

2)         Gold ETF:

If you are planning to gift gold coin to your spouse, think about gifting Gold ETFs. Easy to buy and sell. No need to safeguard.

 

Gift ideas for parents:

 

1) Monthly Income:

Your parents at the old age they need monthly income. Gift them an investment option which gives a monthly income to them. You can get monthly income by investing in FDs, POMIS, mutual fund MIPs and the like. Your parents may not be depending on you, but still then, this extra cash flow out of your investment gift will make them enjoy their life more at the old age.

 

2)Health Insurance:

Most of the insurance companies are ready to cover senior citizens with an extra premium or with a co-payment option. Co-payment is, when a claim comes the insurance company will pay some predetermined percentage of the claim and balance will be co-paid by the claimant.

Gifting the mediclaim policy for your parents will relive them from paying their hospital bills which are unavoidable things at the old age.

 

 

Gift ideas for servants:

Gifting a mediclaim policy to your maid servant is a good idea. They may not be thought about that and they could have thought that those things are costly. Along with the mediclaim policy, you can add accidental insurance for your driver.

 

It is really very difficult to find good servants these days. Even if you find one, it is really very difficult to retain them. If you pay the renewal premium on behalf of them every year, they will be very loyal to you. They will think twice, before quitting the job with you.

 

Gift ideas for friends:

You can choose to gift some good personal finance book for your friend or colleague. Instead of sending them e-cards, you can surprise them by emailing a personal finance article with your Diwali wishes. Even this article itself can be mailed to your near and dear instead of an e-greeting.

 

Gift ideas for others:

Instead of gifting money or gold, it is a good idea to gift bluechip company shares. Even a single share can be gifted. As it is a gift, people sentimentally will not sell them immediately and keep it for long term. A single share can grow with bonuses over a period of time.

 

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at ramalingam@holisticinvestment.in.

 

Portfolio Management Scheme

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What is Portfolio Management Scheme?

Portfolio management scheme popularly known as PMS are specialized investment vehicle for lump sum investments. The portfolio manager invests the money in shares and other securities and manages the portfolio on behalf of the client.

 

One can invest fresh money in Portfolio Management Scheme and the portfolio manager will construct a portfolio by deploying that money. Also one can transfer his existing share portfolio to the Portfolio Management Scheme provider. In that case, the portfolio manager will revamp the portfolio in sync with his investment philosophy and strategy.

 

Once the Portfolio Management Scheme account is opened, the client will be given with a web access to his portfolio. The client can look at where the portfolio manager is investing client’s money. Also one will be able to generate reports like Investment Summary, Portfolio Transaction List, Performance Analysis, Portfolio Statement and Quarterly capital gain report.

 

As a result, Portfolio Management Scheme relieves investors from all the administrative hassles of investments.

Portfolio Management Scheme Vs Direct Stock Market investment:

One can directly invest in stock market. Then what is the advantage of investing in the stock market through a Portfolio Management Scheme. Investing in share market demands knowledge, right mindset, time, and continuous monitoring. It is difficult for an individual investor to meet all these demands. But a Portfolio Management Scheme meets these demands easily. The Portfolio Management Scheme will be managed by an experienced professional. It saves the time and effort of the individual investors. Hence it is advisable to outsource the stock market investment to a sound Portfolio Management Scheme operator instead of managing it on our own.

Portfolio Management Scheme VS Mutual Funds:

Mutual fund is also a good investment vehicle. It should also form part of your total equity investment. But mutual funds are mass products. So they will be conservative by nature. As per SEBI regulation, mutual funds have some investment restrictions. There is a maximum limit on the percentage of amount invested in an individual stock. Also there is some maximum cap on the exposure in a particular sector.

 

Once the fund manager reaches the maximum limit prescribed by SEBI, he is forced to invest in some other stock or some other sector. That is why we see a large number of stocks in a mutual fund portfolio. Where as a Portfolio Management Scheme will invest in 15 to 20 stocks. This concentration makes it more attractive and aggressive. Managing a 25 lakhs Portfolio Management Scheme portfolio will be more flexible when compared to managing a 2000 crores mutual fund portfolio.

 

Portfolio Management Schemes relatively have more flexibility to move in and out of cash as and when required depending on the stock market outlook.

Basically the conservative portion of your equity investment can go into mutual funds. The aggressive portion can go into Portfolio Management Scheme.

 

How to choose a best Portfolio Management Scheme?

 

There are so many Portfolio Management Schemes in the industry. So it is really very difficult to choose a good Portfolio Management Scheme provider. Here are some factors to be considered before choosing a Portfolio Management Scheme.

1) Yardstick for Performance:

One should not just go by the past performance alone. Making an analysis on various Portfolio Management Schemes in the industry with their past performance along with the risk adjusted return and the consistency of performance will be useful in selecting the best Portfolio Management Scheme.

2) Minimum Investment Criteria:

Investors need to avoid Portfolio Management Schemes where the minimum investment is less than 25 lacs. Even there are Portfolio Management Scheme operators who keep minimum investment for their schemes as low as 5 lacs. But these kinds of Portfolio Management Scheme operators will have more number of PMS accounts. When the quantity (the number of PMS A\cs) goes up the quality (the performance) may relatively come down.

 

Therefore it is better to choose a Portfolio Management Scheme where the minimum investment is 25 lacs or more. So that our PMS A\c will be directly handled and managed by the top level portfolio manager and not managed by the juniors and analysts. If you are planning to invest less than 25 lacs, then the ideal investment product for you would be mutual funds.

3) Conflict of interest:

Portfolio Management Schemes have been run by some stock broking companies as well as investment management companies. There is a conflict of interest in Portfolio Management Schemes run by share broking companies. The main business of a share broking company is to earn commission income by facilitating the share market transactions.

Portfolio Management Scheme is an additional business for them. It is not their core business. Hence there may not be enough focus on the Portfolio Management Scheme business. Also they may indulge in doing undue and unnecessary churning of the clients’ portfolio to earn more commission income. This will cause additional expenses and short term capital gain tax to the client.

 

The core business of investment management companies is managing the investments of their clients to earn management fees. So, with the Portfolio Management Schemes run by investment management companies, there is no conflict of interest or vested interest. Therefore it is always advisable to choose a Portfolio Management Scheme offered by investment management companies.

4) Role of Professional Financial Planners:

A professional financial advisor or financial planner will study and analyse the Portfolio Management Schemes run by various stock broking companies as well as investment management companies. If we approach them, they will guide us in choosing the right Portfolio Management Scheme depending upon our requirements and other factors.

 

Also a professional financial advisor will continuously monitor the performance of various Portfolio Management Schemes and advice the client on a regular basis on the performance of the Portfolio Management Scheme where the client has invested vis a vis the other PMS schemes in the industry. After a certain period, if necessary he may advice you to move from one Portfolio Management Scheme operator to the other.

ESOPs and Portfolio Management Scheme:

ESOPs are provided by the companies to its employees based on their service. Most of the employees are of the opinion of keeping the ESOPs as it is forever because it is their company shares. But logically it is too riskier to invest in a company to whom you work for. Because, your employment income as well as investment income will depend on the performance of a single company.

So it is not advisable to keep your investments in a company where you actually work. So it is at all times advisable to transfer your ESOPs to a Portfolio Management Scheme. They will revamp it to construct a well diversified portfolio.

 

Portfolio Management Scheme is an aggressive investment product and really suitable for those investors
• Who have a share portfolio and find it difficult to manage.
• Who have enough exposure in Mutual funds and looking for a different and good investment option
• Who have sizable ESOPs.

 

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at ramalingam@holisticinvestment.in.

 

5 Steps to Select Financial Advisor

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Preparing to start the choice:

Satish grew concerned about how to manage his personal finance investments and asked his uncle, who is a very successful investor, if he knew a good financial advisor. His uncle knows a few each specializing in a particular type of financial consultation, and asked him about the type of consultation he required.

Then his uncle went to tell him that his first task lay in identifying his financial objective, whether he needed financial advice for goals like long-term financial portfolio, or tax planning, or providing for the higher education and marriage of his children. Uncle went on to tell him there were more than 50 type of specialists specializing in aspects like stocks, insurance, mutual funds, postal savings, financial planning, taxation and real estate and told him the five steps to select the best financial advisor.

 

1) Meeting and reviewing different financial advisors:

Once your financial objective and goals are set, your choice of a specialist would depend on whether you want one for your savings plans, tax advice and preparation, stock and equity portfolios, investment strategies, personal budgeting and debt management, retirement planning, estate planning, or insurance advice.

A search on the internet and referrals from friends, colleagues and relatives could help you find some appropriate financial advisors to look into your concern. Make sure that when the financial advisor suggests suitable financial plans, he also assures you to look into its maintenance, updating and implementation with periodic reviews of reports and correspondence.

2) Details about the financial advisor’s educational qualifications, certifications, and experience:

As all other dealings financial dealings too require the qualifications, certification and experience. So it is best to know and verify the advisor’s educational qualifications, certifications and experience. It pays to verify required certifications, like being licensed by IRDA to do insurance business and by by AMFI to deal in mutual funds in India. The extra qualifications like CFP add more value.

 

In addition, the professional’s experience in the nature of business, and with sizable experience dealing with recession times plays a vital role in the choice of a financial advisor. The investment advisor’s past professional positions and his reasons for change will be able to tell how efficient he is, with a positive switch of revealing his good expertise.

 

3) Information of clients he has dealt with along with references:

I would say it is in your interest to not rely just on the positive talk of a financial advisor, and beware of his trying to belittle your ideas. Asking for a reference helps verifying his authenticity, honesty, integrity, and empathy and whether he specializes in the similar nature of business you expect of him. I would say if you are young, you would not benefit from a financial advisor dealing mainly in retirement and senior citizen plans.

Interviewing a number of clients would give you the best idea if the financial advisor can be relied upon confidently to meet your financial goals and objectives. In addition to this you may verify the testimonials given to him by his clients.

 

4. Verify his past records to judge his present and future behavior:

I would rather rely on written words like past documents than what he professes, and would say that a financial advisor’s past performance indicated well his present and future actions. I would also make sure that any disciplinary action for professional and ethic violation has been taken. I would also avoid financial advisors claiming very high performance, as they would highly risk my money.

 

5) The rate and method of compensation for services:

Now comes, the final stage of discussing and knowing your financial advisor’s compensation. Financial advisors have varied compensation methods for their services, charges could be hourly, a flat monthly fee, a percentage on the assets managed, and a commission on the financial products managed or could be based on the number of transactions.  Others could be a combination of 2 or more methods.

A word of caution in dealing with financial advisors charging on number of trades, or getting commission from the investment company, these fees or commissions can be profit motivated with no empathy to client needs.

You could always suggest changes in the fee structure, if not accepted you could always find a reasonable financial advisor to sign a compensation agreement with him.

The final note:

My best wishes for good financial dealings with financial advisors, but a word of caution, are ‘be selective, diligent and patient to understand well the philosophy of your investment and never be shy to ask questions and clarify doubts’.

 

(Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner, is founder & director of Holistic Investment Planners (P) Ltd (www.holisticinvestment.in))

9 ways to be credit smart

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Credit cards have turned into an integral part of modern living as they facilitating making purchases and paying bills without carrying cash. They make life easy and help maintain a record of our expenses and help us dispute charges for undelivered and defective things. In addition they enable us to earn reward points. However credit cards could make you overspend and get into debt. There are 9 ways that could help you to be credit card smart.

One can be very smart in playing a game only when he knows the rules of the game very well and follows the same diligently. Similarly to be smart with your credit card you need to know the rules of the credit card usage. Let me unbundle the same for you.

1) Do not have many credit cards:

It is true that credit cards definitely help in emergencies and facilitate payments. But having too many credit cards could tempt us to overspend and get into credit card debt that could be difficult to recover from. In addition it is best to avail of reward points on one credit card, so that you could encash the points more quickly.

 

2) Cultivate and maintain an emergency fund:

Most of us believe that credit cards can definitely help in medical and unexpected emergencies, but it is unwise to consider it as a general rule. A much better alternative would be regular setting aside money as an emergency fund for such unexpected emergencies. This will prevent getting into credit card debt.

 

3) Repayment capacity should determine credit card spending:

It is right that using credit cards in place of cash helps. But this applies to purchases that we can afford only and also repay immediately. Spending more than what you can repay is highly undesirable and could get you into credit card debt.

 

4) Avoid cash advance withdrawals:

It is best to live within your means and avoid making cash advance withdrawals even in emergencies. This is the worst thing you can do with a credit card. Having a smart spending plan will help you in not falling this trap

 

5) Avoid bank transfers without valid reasons:

Being credit card smart requires avoiding making balance transfers from one credit card to the other. This will avoid payment of balance transfer fees and getting into further credit card debt that could turn vicious. However transfer of bank transfers like taking advantage of lower interest rates could prove fruitful.

 

6) Make full payments in time:

Being credit card smart requires you arranging for payment within a month or next billing date. Delay in repayment and minimum payment could affect your credit standing and make you also liable to pay high rates of interest that you could not afford. Not carrying any balance forward would relieve you of stress of getting into credit card debt.

 

7) Understand the credit card agreement fully:

Being credit card smart requires understanding fully the agreement and other terms and conditions for use of the credit card. This includes understanding transaction fees levied, interest rates, and when increased rates for credit would be charged. This would help take precautions to avoid getting into increased debt on credit cards.

 

8) Recognize the signs of credit card debt:

Many consider a credit card a boon and fail to realize that they are getting into credit card debt. It is best to understand and recognize signs like skipping a credit bill to pay another, avoiding credit card payment statements, and charging more than your repayment capacity by purchasing luxuries. Failing to cultivate and maintain an emergency fund could also be a cause. Once you recognize these signs you can turn credit card smart.

9) Never lend your credit card:

Being credit smart requires not trusting others with your credit card even if they promise to pay back in time. It is unwise because you will be responsible for the debt and charges. It is quite possible that credit card companies did not allot them a credit card because of certain adverse circumstances.

 

The last word:

I am sure you will agree that credit cards can be a boon only when you are credit card smart.

 

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at ramalingam@holisticinvestment.in.

 

How to create a workable budget

“Modern man drives a mortgaged car over a bond-financed highway on credit-card petrol.”

Taking control of your cash inflow and outflow is the base for financial planning. Budgeting is important to gain control over your financial life, be prepared and avoid surprises, save for a major purchase, get out of debt and stay out of debt, expand your lifestyle, and to retire early.

 

Thiruvalluvar, a much celebrated Tamil poet emphasizes budgeting through his following lines:

Incomings may be scant; but yet, no failure there,
If in expenditure you rightly learn to spare. (Kural: 478)

Who prosperous lives and of enjoyment knows no bound,
His seeming wealth, departing, nowhere shall be found. (Kural: 479)

 

Most of us hesitate to make a budget because we think it is about cutting all the fun in life. Budgeting is not about cutting all the fun; it is about conscious allocation of funds. Once we start spending consciously, our mind will find out a whole new way of having fun within the budget.

 

Making Budget: A step by step guide

 

There is a saying, “God is in the details”. Detail every bit of your financials while creating a budget.

 

1)    Check your financial statements:

 

It could be your utility bills, d’mat account statement, other investment receipts, ITR, Form 16A, Form 16, bank statement, credit card statement etc. The idea is to make out the monthly average of income and expenses. Therefore the more details you can get the more relevant and accurate will the budget be.

 

2)    Listing out income from all sources:

 

It is very easy for us to list down the income from employment or self employment. Normally we will lose track of income from investments, rental income and other miscellaneous income. Also check is there any annual income. Don’t forget to record the incomes received by way of cash equivalents like meal voucher and credit card reward points.

 

3)    Finding out your total expenses:

 

We can easily list down the major expenses. But listing out the miscellaneous and petty expenses would be difficult. This is where the collected financial statements would help. Don’t forget the annual expenses like car insurance and property tax. Once you have recorded all the expenses then split them into fixed expenses and variable expenses. This classification will provide much more clarity.

 

Most people are surprised to learn that it may go for things that we do not need at all. Writing your expenditures down provides us with the unique opportunity to visualize and find out if any money goes for things that we do not need or want.

 

4)    Are you saving or over spending?

 

Now you have your total income as well as total expenses. Deduct the total expenses from the total income. You will know whether you are saving some money or doing over spending. If you are saving some money channelize that money into the priority areas such as clearing your credit card outstanding or any other loan to become debt free or retirement savings or children’s future plan. If you are on over spending, then you need to make some adjustments to expenses.

 

5)    Review your spending pattern:

 

On your expenses list, pay close attention to the variable expenses. This is where you can cut short a few expenses.

 

Every month we need to keep aside appropriate amount for the proportionate annual expenses.

 

You can find out the reasons for over spending. Most of the cases it would be emotional buying or unplanned shopping. Once you have pointed out the reasons for overspending, then find out the steps or precautions to be taken to rectify the same.

 

6)    Are you on the track? Check monthly:

 

Every month set aside an hour to compare the actual expenses with the budgeted expenses. If there is a negative deviation, find out the measures to control them.

Why your earlier budgeting attempts failed?

 

Budgeting is not a onetime activity. It is a continuous process. Normally we start budgeting with a genuine motive. But after a few months it may get off-tracked like our attempts on dieting or exercising. Therefore one needs to understand the behavioural aspects of budgeting.

 

1)    Positive Approach:

 

Never focus on the negative aspects. Focus on the benefits of successful budgeting. What will you accomplish by creating a budget? It could be becoming debt free, some money for vacation, planning for retirement or children’s future.

 

 

2)    Keep your enthusiasm alive:

 

Budgeting may over a period of time become routine and hence boring. Set a few short term goals like trying to repay the personal loan in 18 months instead of 36 months. If you achieve it reward yourself. Recognition could be a good motivating factor. Inform all your family members, friends and well wishers about your progress on budgeting. You can also join in some of the forums related to money management.

 

3)    Have a realistic expectation:

 

One needs to keep realistic expectation on the outcome of the budget. Over expectation may demotivate you. Budgeting is not a magic. It is an art like singing and dancing. You will be able to progress it only over a period of time with constant practice.

If you have not done budgeting for yourself and family so far, then now is the right time to take action. The fact that you are reading this article shows you have decided to stop procrastinating, and have answered the ancient question, “If not now, when?” with “NOW!”.

 

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at ramalingam@holisticinvestment.in.