All posts by Rama

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. I can be reached at ramalingam@holisticinvestment.in.

Parenting To Raise Financially Smart Children

“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” Warren Buffet

This quotation, it made me think that this is what children that were taught to be financially smart turned out as adults. This next made me feel that it was just not important to send children to school to learn how to count and write, but as parents to teach them about the value of certain aspects in life. With consumerism overtaking the economy even in developing countries of the world like India, many youngsters are having easy accessibility to credit cards and EMI’s, making our children realize the difference between a real want and need would make them financially smart for a lifetime.

Hence smart parents should assume a vital role to render useful lessons of financial management to their children. Smart parents would not only render useful finance lessons, but would also be a prominent example and take effective feedback by making their children a partner in their financial decisions.

Let’s look at how we can make parenting to raise children, who are financially smart, an interesting and enjoyable experience.

Have a look at these aspects in inculcating learning about personal finance:

  • Simple living: My grandfather has always been a part of my learning principles of smart financial management and I respect him for what he always told us as children, “Simple living and high thinking are the essence of life. We should be able to live with minimum wants if we wish to have an umbrella over us for a lifetime.” He was a standing example or what he preached, making me feel we could make our children lead better lives if we rendered these lessons to our children and practiced it ourselves to set an example.
  • Setting Financial Priorities: Setting priorities in our children such as ‘having basic necessities of life like food, clothing, and shelter were more essential than fancy and fashionable articles’ would surely help. The habits built at the cradle carry on to the death bed. This applies in educating our children about the clear demarcation between wants versus needs.

Setting up financial priorities in children could start off with teaching them budgeting that is appropriate to their age. Inculcating the habit of budgeting in our children would start off with working together with them and making a child friendly budget. Young children are very happy to have budgets prepared with bright colors, graphs and other visuals. A joint effort would make them feel a part of it and be ready to cooperate and learn.

  • Goal Oriented:                       My observation of financially smart adults made me understand that they believed in saving for a goal. So we need to involve our older children by involving them in budgeting for costlier possessions like car, a house, new furniture or probably saving for a sound education or marriage. It is true that even younger children need to be encouraged to save for small fancy needs like probably going for a movie, an evening having pizza or that remote control toy or Barbie doll. Their achievement would give them a sense of fulfillment that could make them feel motivated and focused to save for bigger goals.
  • Rewards: Motivation has always been the keyword to progress, so praise and rewards could also make a great impact on children learning and implementing financially smart objectives.  In addition teaching our children of how to survive and earn would help. So suggesting alternative ways to earn, like helping in the cleaning of the car, helping younger siblings with homework, running errands like shopping for essential or helping in small household chores in an age appropriate manner would surely help.
  • Banking: “Putting your savings in the bank would help you earn more money to meet your financial goals,” is what most financially smart parents would have instilled in their children right from childhood.  A savings bank account started with parents being a guardian would help overlook their children’s spending habits and guide them.
  • Financial Learning: In addition instilling a habit of reading articles and reviews on finance have helped many financially smart children to save for their future once they started earning.

Stocks, shares and other financially appreciating instruments are best taught to older children, with involving them in real life examples of your investments helping a lot.  Next is to introduce them to credit cards and loans. When they should be taken and when they should be avoided need to be taught well in advance.

Experience makes principles of smart financial planning more deep. So allowing our children to borrow money from us and repay it back with/without interest makes them realize the impact of loans.

Lastly do realize that each child is made in a different way with different spending and savings traits. Identifying each child’s financial habits early in life would help us to guide them tactfully without being imposing on them. I have known of children who have learnt better by their falls in financial decisions, so just rest assured that experience sometimes renders the best lessons for a healthy financial life.

(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.)

Buying Term Life Insurance

Buying insurance for protection and wealth creation has always been a very complicated task involving careful analyzes. The analysis involves the amount of coverage, reason for coverage and the term/time that the cover is required. Term policies taken for a specified period of time like 5, 10, 15, 20, or even 30 years helps to look after family’s financial commitments like education and marriage of our children and the day to day expenses for a reasonable standard of living.

Term insurance policies that resemble motor/house insurance are not subject to the law of indemnity as damage due to human life cannot be measured. Taken for a specified period when financial obligations have to be met, no money is generally paid back if death does not occur in the period.

A bird’s eye view of term insurance policies would tell you:

  • Term policies are cheaper as they cover only the risk of death happening within a specified period. In addition the premium charged depending on the age of the person insured and time of coverage required with medical examination being compulsory in most of the cases.
  • With very competitive premium rates being the present scenario of the insurance sector, it is found that most companies encourage insurers to take a much higher coverage for extended period of time even up to 35 years or 65 years of age. This accounts for popularity of these policies for people with long term financial commitments.
  • Term life policies can be bought very easily either online or through life advisors that market and service these policies. You would benefit buying term insurance policies online as this does away with the expenses of agents/life advisors commission. This accounts for discount in premium.
  • In addition a check of the insurer’s ‘claim settlement’ ratio or the percentage of claims settled by the insurer of the total received would help, with this available on the IRDA website.
  • Once death occurs and claim is to be settled this is done in a lump-sum to the nominees or beneficiaries. This depends on the terms of the policy that the insured has taken, with the settlement free of tax payments.
  • Term plans suit young earning members with dependents, with the low premium allowing them with additional funds to invest in lucrative    equity-linked savings schemes that provide tax breaks

Deciding different factors about term life insurance:

Term insurance serves as the best life cover for large amounts and extended terms to meet your family’s financial commitments if you are not there. Insurance experts suggest about 12 times your annual income added to your total liability less investment in various assets.

  • It is important to note that liabilities include loans taken for house/ personal/ vehicles/and other obligations.
  • You should also consider amounts required for the education and marriage of your children, healthcare needs for your spouse and dependents and other amounts that would be required to maintain a reasonable lifestyle.
  • Term life insurance policies are mainly meant for earning members of the family, whose financial commitments have to be meant on his/her death. It is however not meant for the young, unmarried working people that have no dependents or financial commitments.
  • Term plans are best taken for amounts that consider not only the present financial needs, but also inflation, increase in salaries and lifestyle needs. The premium could rise with age and with increase in the amount of insurance taken and with riders/ additional benefits like personal accident insurance and critical illness coverage.

  • Insurance contracts being contracts of utmost good faith require revealing of material facts that would influence its acceptance. This could include your existing health conditions, family history and details of other insurance contracts that have been rejected in past.  Undergoing a medical examination if necessary may help reduce chances of claims being rejected in future.
  • Term policies are best taken in blocks and increased or decreased according to need. Reviewing insurance needs every 3 to 5 years is ideal to adjust insurance needs.  Taking insurance in blocks provides for flexibility to discontinue some in case of decreased financial obligations with time.

Finally take care to ensure that you have read and understood all the information to the best of your knowledge and disclosed the correct material facts like age, income and present health status. In addition carefully go through the signed proposal form and policy document and inform the insurance company in case of discrepancies within 15 days of issue of policy.

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

6 Financial Planning Misconceptions Demystified

Let’s start the useful exercise:

Financial planning may mean different things for different people. Some assume that they need no financial planning as they have very little finances. Still others believe that once they have invested their savings for future their task is over. In addition some pre-conceived notions that company we work for, pays our medical and hospitalization expenses so we need no reserve, combined with the notion that a life insurance policy takes care of death, disability and accidents.

The need for no financial planning is complemented with the myth especially among the young that their retirement is far away and they could easily plan for it just a few years in advance. To further complement this myth that our ancestors would leave behind estate and property for us to enjoy with a will.

Well dear friends financial planning can never be overlooked as finances invested well today could provide for good financial resources in future. It is true that a person who helps himself succeeds best in having financial stability in life.

Have a look at the myths of financial planning:

  1. “I have life insurance to protect them in case of my death.”

My hearty congratulations for taking up insurance policies to protect your family needs in case of your death. But the question is do you have adequate insurance to look after your family needs for a lifetime. In addition it is worth considering if you have enough to look after your children’s education and marriage needs considering the rate of inflation. Also it is worth considering if your family would be financially secure if they have to repay loans taken by you after your death.

  1. “I just make both ends meet, where is the need to go in for financial planning?”

You may be right, but if I were to tell you that we all need to provide for financial contingencies would you say financial planning is unnecessary? So all of us have to plan to make their hard-earned money to work for them, and this applies more so single income families. Financial planning makes sense not only to repay loans taken but also to get continuous supply of money for our needs.  So we need to have a strict look at our expenses and find ways to minimize them. A small example could be to forego a pack of cigarette a day to save and invest in viable investment scheme.

  1. “My financial planning is done as I have invested in different schemes.”

I appreciate you for taking the first step towards financial sufficiency, however believe me this is just the first step to the 1000 miles towards lifelong financial stability.

All you are investments are really supporting your financial goals or not? Is the schemes in which you have invested is really performing or not? Is the maturity value from the schemes is sufficient to meet the goals or not?

A financial need analysis to cover various short term and long term needs could be best accomplished with a financial expert’s advice on financial planning.

  1. “Youth is to enjoy, retirement is far away. It will look after itself.”

Let us face this myth headlong with analyzing that retirement is not a contingency, but a necessity that is to be provided for right from the time one starts earning. It is advisable and much easier to start saving when young, as savings become difficult with additional expenses.

Saving for retirement starting from youth through retirement plans seems much easier when the amount to be put aside for the corpus is much less every year and it is also possible to save through various investment avenues. Starting to invest for retirement when young gives one the advantages of compounding of savings. This would also help take care of inflationary tendencies.

  1. “I have enough health insurance, and my company gives me coverage too.”

Being covered with health insurance and medical expenses at work is great, but this would not cover all your health expenses. It is always good to take additional coverage and provide for unforeseen contingencies like critical illness that would not only involve expenses on treatment, but also on maintaining the lifestyle of the family till one is ready to go to work.

Being young does not prevent you or any of your family members from getting a critical illness with the present lifestyle. With fresh insurance coverage over the age of 45 being tough it is best to save for this period.

  1. “I do not have to worry as I will inherit from my parents as my children will inherit from me.”

Inheritance has neither been a cake-walk, and a will is very important for inheritance. Financial planning involves the making of a will to avoid disputes between the heirs. Making a will is not about how big your property or estate is, it is more about necessarily making a will about the inheritance.

Financial planning is not just the forte of finance professionals alone, but is judicious and smart planning of finances for a lifetime. Lastly financial planning is not an end but a means to an end of financial stability and security.

(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.)

Do You Do Your Regular Financial Check-ups?

Just start the financial check-up:

Noel Whittaker said, “Life is full of uncertainties. Future investment earnings and interest and inflation rates are not known to anybody. However, I can guarantee you one thing.. those who put an investment program in place will have a lot more money when they come to retire than those who never get around to it”.

This meaningful quotation made me realize that we need to make regular financial check-ups to ensure that we have enough to meet our financial goals in life. Planning for financial goals require taking into consideration the present rates of earnings on investments, future earnings and rate of inflation that would affect our lifestyle and financial goals. It is vital that we all realize that regular reviewing our finances according to our changing dreams, needs and aspirations and making necessary changes would help meet our financial goals.

Marriage and a merger of personal finance:

Marriage could be the first circumstance that calls for reviewing financial needs. Getting married means not just end of bachelorhood/spinsterhood, but additional expenses of managing household and financial needs of one’s spouse. Likewise 2-paypackets calls for necessity to review the fruitful investment of excess income.  I would say that marriage brings along with it future goals like buying a house, planning for children and so on and additional expenses involved in this planning.

Kids and their Future:

The innocent face of kids brings joys to the couple’s life, with the added responsibility to plan for additional finances required for their upbringing, education, medical expenses and marriage. In addition, don’t we as parents feel that we have to leave behind an inheritance that our children would love to treasure?

Health is Wealth:

Regular financial check-ups is required not just after marriage and kids, but God forbid, death, long term sickness and accidents are eventualities that can change everything for a family; these unforeseen contingencies can lead to major turmoil and depletion in finances.

Switching your job or transition to a business:

Regular financial check-ups are also required considering the change of employment or business activity. Regular jobs bring regular income and regular investments, while increases would mean more of investments. Also irregular and cyclical income means saving and investing more in times of high income; as in surgeons, artists, consultants investment and insurance advisors for times of income crisis.

In addition, can anyone of us afford to miss on the effects that inflation plays on our financial planning? Periodic financial check-ups ensure we are self-sufficient in old age. Other factors like windfall gains could also make differences in our finances. So it is very true to say that regular financial check-ups or reviews would help make adjustments in financial plans in the most optimum way.

What do regular financial check-ups give me?

Expecting the Unexpected:

Deepak Chopra aptly said, “Even when you think you have your life all mapped out, things happen that shape your destiny in ways you might never have imagined”.

It is right that budgeting regularly would help all of us to pin-point where we are overspending and need to economize to fulfill goals. It is true that this would help increase savings for investments. It would be right to say here that regular financial check-ups help to review financial needs and also set up sufficient contingent or emergency fund that come in handy in emergencies; sickness, accident and unemployment. Ideally it should be 3 to 6 months of your family expenses. This would come in handy in case of emergency.

How very true it is that insurance forms an important part of financial planning as it provides for not just financial protection on death, but also for illness and future needs. Constant and regular financial check-ups is necessary here also to provide for increased insurance needs, with planning early in life helping reduce premium costs and refusal for insurance.

Net worth Tracking:

It has been well said by Noel Whittaker, “Becoming wealthy is not a matter of how much you earn, who your parents are, or what you do, it is a matter of managing your money properly”. We would be smart in preparing a balance sheet of our family finances. Like a business balance sheet, this could enlist assets like contingency fund, various investments, interest earnings, pension, provident fund, insurance and other immovable assets we have and also enlist the liabilities like expenditure on children’s education, marriage, medical expenses, retirement expenses and cost of inflation on financial reserves. Constant updating would not only give an idea of your exact financial standing, but would also help to make appropriate financial planning changes.

Other Review Triggers:

v  A special mention needs to be made regarding regular financial check-up with regard to mutual funds; the change of fund manager and other changes in investment portfolio need to be considered.

v  How very true it is that regular financial check-ups help in maintaining excellent financial health. Budgets need to be reviewed every month, with financial consultants advising their clients to review their investments every 3 months and make the necessary changes.

v  There may however not be a need to make changes if the portfolio is as planned, though in certain cases like big change in financial goals or with new guidelines of investment necessary changes may have to be made in the investment plans.

To conclude how very true it is that uncertainty is an important ingredient of life, but managing your money properly could give you the stability and peace of mind to face your financial goals confidently.

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

Are You Guilty Of Financial Infidelity With Your Partner?

Stories of financial infidelity:

Mahesh, a successful upcoming software engineer’s life was in a real mess; it is good he realized it at least now. He had come to meet me for financial advice and plan. He started doing online trade after learning that his colleagues were making a lot of money. But he had lost heavily due to his ill-luck, inexperience and lack of knowledge. He indulged in tactics of taking loan from one to repay the other and taking loans from another to repay the earlier loan. Mahesh was in debt to the extent of 20 lacs, and his creditors were pressurizing him to pay back loans given. So far he has not disclosed all these things to his young loving wife, Lekha.

Mahesh believed that Lekha was no good at finances and was just home bound. He also believed that he had to support her, but had no moral obligation to reveal anything else to her. Lekha was shocked to know that Mahesh was deep in debt. She was sensible and thrifty and thought they would soon lead a comfortable life, but her dreams were shattered and she was forced to sell all the jewelry and some of the household things that her parents had given her in marriage. They found that affording the rent of their flat was also too much, so they had to move to a smaller flat.

Lekha was happy for she knew at least now and could keep a track of Mahesh’s finances, but she lost faith in Mahesh as he hid vital financial information from her and decided that she had to start earning also to feel financially secure in their relationship. Mahesh’s financial infidelity has broken the very foundation of their marital life that is based in trust, confidence and open discussion of all vital issues.

Financial infidelity could go further in various other respects like the case of Ankit that hid vital information about the salary he earned and the increments he got, the loans he took, and the number of credit cards he used. He died of a severe cardiac arrest at the tender age of 32, and this was a shock not only to his wife and children, but also to his parents and in-laws.

Ankit’s wife Anila believed that he had taken sufficient insurance to protect the family in case of his death. She also believed that he had enough savings.  But Ankit a poor money manger had huge credit card dues, as he had borrowed for family expenses. Also he had a sizable amount of car loan and home loan. He had the habit of paying only the minimum due on credit cards. Besides he had defaulted payment of premium on some policies.

Anila was shocked and disposed off their flat and car to close the loans. She was left with very little from the insurance Ankit had. She only wished that Ankit had told her everything so that she could have set aside enough for the family and not had to send their son Amit to a government school and have no finances for his future education.

Recognize when there is financial infidelity:

Mutual Trust:

As the couple ties the knot and takes the marriage oath, it seems so pleasant, but I would say trust and respect for each other need to be for life. The break of trust and respect in major financial matters amounts to financial infidelity. I would say that transparency in marital relationships is very important and could help save situations that are irrevocable.

Financial Openness:

This applies to revealing the number of bank accounts a partner has and the nature of transactions made. You need to have an open discussion with your spouse on the financial matter like the number of credit cards you have, loans you borrow, investments you make, tax you pay…

Family Support:

You need to inform all your family members and dependents about your financial and debt status. Then you will be able to take decisions with much more clarity. Moreover, if your family members know about your debt, they will also change their spending habits and support you in getting out of debt faster

Equal Weight:

You could definitely be not guilty of financial infidelity if both your partner and you consider that equal weight should be given to both views in financial affairs. This is also necessary for the strong foundation of your relationship and family.

Spirit of compromise:

It is true that mutual trust and respect coupled with compromise can do a lot to remove financial infidelity and save the extreme situation that we have seen in the case of Mahesh’s and Ankit’s family. A spirit of compromise could definitely save financial infidelities that have their roots in selfishness on the part of one of the partners. This also apples to relationships that is emotionally vulnerable with one partner feeling inferior or being terrorized emotionally.

Lastly I am sure you would all refrain from the guilt of financial infidelity that could not just ruin the financial position of families and their overall peace, but could also cause certain devastating relationship issues that could not heal even in a lifetime.

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

Factors To Consider Before Investing In IPO

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IPO’s or initial public offering is best understood as the first public offering of shares by a private limited company before listing in a stock market. Looking down IPO’s history of success and failure stories, you would be smart to first fully understand the various aspects behind such offerings and makes the right choice to invest or not in IPO’s. It is advisable to understand that

investing in IPO’s could prove risky with unfavorable market situations and sentiments and when the fundamentals of the company and industry are weak. It is best to go by facts, avoid being influenced by rumors and have a closer look at the past performances also.

Understanding the concept of investing in IPO does require a clear look into these factors:

It is not wise to believe rumors and success stories of IPO’s at face value, for investing in IPO’s is not easily learnt and there could be some misconceptions. So it is best to venture into IPO’s only after you have learnt the art of investing your hard earned money in them.

It is wrong to be overwhelmed with hearing general statements that some IPO’s are attractively priced. You would be smarter comparing the price earnings ratio that helps get the relationship between the stock price and the company’s earnings and comparing it with those of competitive companies.

Beware of being under the misconception that investing in IPO’s could give you great gains on listing. It has been noticed by both amateur as well as experienced investors that sometimes high losses are also made. It would be safer and secure not gambling in the shares of new issues.

It is good to experiment with new products in the market. But I would say that it is not smart to have this attitude with shares and invest in IPO’s. Investing is about getting effective and safe returns on the hard earned money that you put into shares, so it would be smarter putting your money to work in index stocks that have been in the market for a long time and have survived the volatile economic market for long.

Beware of being influenced by the favorable feeling and trend in the investment market to borrow money from financial institutions of brokerage companies for getting higher allotment of shares. It is sometimes very difficult to judge the trend of the market especially as an amateur and this could make you end up in huge losses coupled with the repayment of the loan with interest.

Some assume that investing in IPO’s would surely bring about gains in the long run. However I would suggest that you would definitely be much better off investing in good listed shares that have a proven record, though they sell at a higher price. However you may invest with sufficient information of the IPO’s, but could not always be sure that the listing will not bring down the issue price.

So it is best to be prudent and informative before investing in IPO’s.

Factors that have a bearing on analyzing investments in IPO’s:

It is first important to know that companies are required to file their draft red herring prospectus (DRHP) with SEBI while floating an IPO. Analyzing this document would give you financial and other information about the company. The highest percentage of shares held by institutional investors, banks and financial institutions could be a positive indicator to invest in IPO’s.

The draft red herring prospectus (DRHP) would also provide other important information and indicators like the quality of management. The quality of management like their work experience, their past history or work experience, qualifications and projects handled would help in the decision to analyze IPO’s.

Another factor having a bearing is strong promoter backing. Big companies like Tata and Birla bring about credibility and also add a premium to the price of IPO’s. The ownership by the government and public sector undertakings are also an indicator of high level of safety of returns.

The other major, though not the only indicator though is grading, with a higher grading being good. However also could be false as seen with the IPO of Vasvani Industries that had a 2/5 grading.  Similarly high graded companies like Galaxy Surfactants with a CRISIL rating of 4/5 withdrew its IPO. So it is best to understand that even some good companies withdraw their IPO’s due to poor public sentiments and difficulty experienced in raising funds in the market.

The objective for raising funds would prove to be an important indicator to its profitability and time for return. Finding out this objective looking at various factors like the businesses past performance, future growth prospects, potential rate of return and profitability. In addition it is best to avoid investing in businesses that you cannot understand.

Last, but most important a periodic review would help you understand how your investment in IPO’s are fairing and help effect follow-up. However it is advisable to avoid taking hasty decisions to sell, as some IPO’s have underperformed initially but has given consistent returns in the long run. But prompt follow-up action would be required in case of IPO’s that lose very badly or are fundamentally wrongly invested.

 

To conclude investing in IPO’s is best kept to the minimum as they involve a high level of research and uncertainty. However if they are selectively chosen they would help avoid investments with bad performance.

 

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.

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.

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.

 

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

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.