Category Archives: Finance

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 ( a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at

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 ( a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at

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 ( a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at

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 ( a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at

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 ( a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at

Why investors are not making returns in the stock market the last 10 years, sensex gas grown at 17.79% CAGR. That means, if someone could have invested Rs. 1 lac 10 years back, it could have grown to 5.14 lacs. In the last 10 years one third of diversified equity mutual funds have delivered a CAGR of more than 25%. That means if someone could have invested 10 years back in these mutual funds Rs.1lac, it could have grown to Rs.9.31 Lacs.

But how many investors have REALLY got these kinds of returns…?

In this context knowing about the study conducted by Dalbar to determine how the investment behavior and decisions impacted the overall investment performance would be advisable. Dalbar, Inc. is a US based leading financial services market research firm. They have done comparative study on the returns of S&P 500 Index and the returns of the investors for a 20 year period ending 31-12-10.

The study revealed the following two important facts.

  • The average return of the S&P 500 during this 20 year period is 9.14%.
  • The average return of the equity investor during the same period is only 3.27%

When the market is delivering so much, why is that the investor is making out less? What are all the factors contributing for this gap in the market returns and the investor returns?

Though the market is delivering returns, investors were not able to benefit. Why is it so? What went wrong?  It is because of the nature or character of the investor.

Agriculture is getting affected by nature, either because of excess rain or no rain.  But we found out a system to fight against this nature. We built dams. So whenever there is excess rain, dams retain water to save agriculture and whenever there is no rain, it releases water to help agriculture.

Similarly investors are supposed to find and build a dam against their nature and behaviour towards stock market investing in order to get better returns.

What are the natures or behaviours of an investor that blocks him from getting the market return?


When stocks suffer large losses for a sustained period, the overall market can become more fearful of sustaining further losses. At that point in time everyone will come with their own logic, reasoning, and statistical evidence on the chances of further losses. Fear stands for “False Evidence Appearing Real”.


Most of us have a desire to acquire as much wealth as possible in the shortest amount of time.  This get-rich-quick mentality makes it hard to maintain gains and keep to a strict investment plan over the long term.

An investment portfolio based on ones personality

Basing investment portfolios on one’s personal likes and dislikes are the first of the powerful influences. It is like investing in cars and fancy gadgets just because you love them. Investing on shares just because you think they are smart or flashy is ambiguous, for they could sink in the long run. It is better instead to invest in profitable ventures that pay in the long run. It is true; our investment fancies make us pay a heavy price.

Follow the flock policy

The follow the flock for fear of being the black sheep policy makes you as an investor to believe in following others in the share markets. The pitfalls of group behavior lead us to buying high and selling less.

It also leads to unbalanced investment emotions of black or white (wrong or right) with no shades of objectivity and rationality. Buying high and selling low has made many investors suffer heavy losses in the long run.
A look at positive investment behavior:

It is good to be investment smart with humility and reasonable aspirations that makes achievement of financial goals a reality. I have never known of any high return investments that did not have high risks.

Patience over a lifetime and being able to assume stress helps in aiming for long term positive returns and contributes to assuming less financial stress after retirement.

Positive investment behavior requires balanced moods, one of neither elation nor panic. Neither selling in a panic due to share market positions or adverse world or country conditions is advisable, nor is a reaction of extreme financial prosperity, both can destroy a lifetime of healthy investment. A long-term investor needs to realize that neither despairing nor elation of situations in civilization proves worthy for long term financial portfolios.


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

Factors To Consider Before Investing In IPO

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 ( a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at

A Study on Physical Gold and Gold ETF

Stock Market has lead to tendency of many to go in for much safer investments that gives a reasonable return. This is the reason for gold gaining popularity as one of the safest avenues for investment.

Gold has always held importance as a good investment proposition since the days of our ancestors. But the recent trends of daylight robbery, murders and greed for the precious yellow metal with the difficulty of storage and safety of physical gold had made gold a cumbersome proposition. In addition, fraudulent and not uniform practices followed by jewelers and difficulty in establishing the purity of gold contributed to the popularity and desirability of gold ETF’s.

Gold ETF’s or gold exchange-traded funds are instruments investing in gold of 99.5% purity. Investing and maintaining these funds just required demat account and a trading account with a registered stockbroker. Gold ETF’s are more ideal than physical gold due the following reasons:

¨     Gold ETF’s are investments in gold of 99.5% purity only. It prevents one from falling into the clutches of some jewelers that fool customers with smooth and artistic talk. This avoids chances of misplacement of trust, as only a goldsmith could find out the exact purity.

¨     Owning something virtual like gold ETF’s does away with the difficulty of storage and security experienced in possessing physical gold. The units of gold ETF’s can easily be stored in both demat and trading account without being known to the greedy, cheaters, robbers and looters. A word of caution here, you could be sure of it all when you keep your units in accounts with privacy of user name and password.

¨     Gold ETF’s are most ideal for small investors as they can be purchased in small denominations sometimes of even 1 gram or ½ a gram. So ETF’s can be bought easily in small installments regularly and increased in the virtual form. This advantage is not available when investing in physical gold.

¨     Low cost, with affordability in dealing with gold ETF’s contributes to their desirability over physical gold. These instruments are listed in exchanges; the exchange traded mechanism helping to reduce processing charges, disbursements and collection charges. Gold ETF’s also help do away with the carry charges in gold futures.

¨     The ease to convert gold ETF’s into liquid cash easily at real time prices on the stock exchange avoiding charges like commission, and unnecessary fuss over quality and price by jewelers make them a desirable investment. This makes buying and selling these units easy.

¨     Right and uniform pricing in Gold ETF’s offered no scope for price discrimination that is experienced in encasing physical gold at the jewelers. One lacking knowledge and experience in dealing in gold would do best to invest in good gold ETF’s.

¨     Gold ETF’s offer protection from the liability of taxes. The taxation system for gold ETF’s is similar to non-equity mutual funds. One only needs to pay the lower of the two, long-term capital gains tax of 10 per cent without indexation or 20 per cent with indexation on profits made.

¨     Gold GTF’s are likely to show lesser tracking errors as compared to normal funds as the creation and redemption of units are done with units of the same type. This accounts for lesser liquid cash being required and the short time interval between buying and selling of units.

However some may disagree with me and say that the psychological satisfaction of seeing and feeling physical gold in the physical form is important and gold ETF’s are a fictitious concept. It is purely a question of ones own perception, but I would strongly contest gold ETF’s if investment, safety and security is ones objective.

If you keep gold in the form of ETF, you will not have any emotional attachment towards that. You will really consider it as an investment. If you need money for buying a property or kid’s higher education you will feel free to encash it. But in the case of physical gold, we will not be prepared to sell it because we will have emotional attachment towards physical gold.

So, Gold ETFs are the better way to invest in gold.

Understanding Form 16

Most of us are aware of Form 16 given by our employers before April 30th each year that give details of the income earned, and tax deducted at source and paid to the government. This certificate proves useful in filing income tax returns. In addition banks also issuing Form 16 and Form16A to pension holders and those that earn interest income, with no Form 16 required when TDS is not deducted from salary. Knowing about Form 16 helps us to be a well-informed taxpayer and do better tax planning.

The 13 components of Form 16 are:

PAN that stands for Permanent Account Number, a 10 digit alpha-numeric code that is generated by the Income Tax Department of India. It is mandatory for everyone- NRI, PIO & companies that wishes to conduct business, file and pay taxes, invest, buy and sell property, open a demat or bank account to have this number in India. The need

TAN is best known as Tax Deduction and Collection Account Number is another mandatory 10 digit alpha-numeric number that is very necessary for all persons and companies that are responsible for collecting taxes. It proves useful to note that this number is unique in case of different companies.

Gross salary, the common term used in practice includes all regular incomes in an employee’s remuneration. It would include allowances, overtime pay, commissions, and bonuses, with all other amounts before the deductions are made.


It is best to know that perquisites are just additional benefits in addition to the fixed salaries. Known popularly as perks this term could include rent free accommodation, loans at subsidized rates and others.

Profits in lieu of salary are just payments given instead of salary that is given by at or in connection with retrenchment or termination of employment. This item forms a part of taxable income and includes gratuity, commuted value of pension, retrenchment compensation. However the contribution made by the employee or interest thereon is not taxed.

Next allowances in Form 16 are certain payments made or allotted to employees for bearing of certain expenses. It could include allowances like medical allowances, and travel allowances that are generally taxable in the hands of the employees.

House rent allowance or HRA In Form 16 refers to a special allowance paid to employees to meet the cost of housing. There is tax exemption on HRA and it is limited to the least of either the HRA received from employer, or rent paid in excess of 10% of the salary, or 50% of salary in metropolitan cities and 40% in other cities. The term salary here includes basic, dearness allowance and other commissions put together, this exemption not available to those that do not pay rent.

It is best to understand conveyance allowance as an allowance paid to an employee to meet commuting expenses between his/her home and place of work. There is a maximum exemption of Rs.800, with a special provision for an orthopedically handicapped employee until Rs.1600.

The term medical allowance paid for medical treatments and medicines is fully taxable. However reimbursement of medical expenses against submission of bills could get you a maximum exemption of Rs.15000 annually.

The allowance received to employees for entertainment services or entertainment allowance is allowed as a deduction for government employees. However in other cases one can avail of deduction as a least of actual allowance received, or 1/5th of salary excluding all other allowances and perquisites or Rs.5000.

Deductions as in Form 16 is given as an incentive given by the government to invest in certain long term savings schemes. This includes long term savings for retirement, insurance schemes and others that give tax breaks.

All taxes in India are subject to an education cess that is 3% of total tax payable. This contribution is made towards the Secondary and Higher Education development in the Indian economy.

It is lastly important to understand the relief granted to employees when salary is paid in arrears in a lump sum best known as Relief u/s 89. This includes salaries received in arrears/advance, family pension received in arrears, retirement benefits such as gratuity, commuted pension, VRS and retrenchment compensation.

Understanding your form 16 helps you in many ways like planning for taxes, filing your income tax and so on.


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

Insurance For Home Makers

It has always been a question of common belief that the male member or the bread winner of the family only needs to be insured. This belief has emerged due to the fact that the financial interests of the other dependent family memebers had to be protected in case of death of the bread winner. However changes of lifestyles and with more women being employed in lucrative professions both in big cities and towns the perception of insurance has changed.

In addition the entry of many MNC-Indian insurance joint ventures, and their bringing out unique solutions and products, it is time that we all looked into taking insurance policies for home makers too. Home mekaers have been neglected all these years with regard to insurance.

It would be interesting to study why home makers too need insurance:

  • It is significant to note that in a country like India, homemakers contribute to households in the form of cooking, education of children and other menial work. But their importance and value of services evaluated in monetary terms is greatly neglected. It is true that the absence of these services on the death of the homemaker a big financial impact on lower and middle income families.
  • Another noteworthy factor that places a value on insurance of homemakers is that they provide great counsel to their spouse and children. So losing them would mean that lots of money would have to be spent on counseling services proving that loss of love and companionship is priceless.


  • It is also true that no one could replace a home maker mother and her loss could make it difficult to get competent and loving people to look after the family and children. It is also significant to note that the cost of competent daycare centers could be high and the cost of not insuring a home maker in lower and middle income families could be pretty high.
  • There is a money value behind each and every household work performed by the home maker. In case of any eventuality to the home maker, one need to shell out more money to upkeep the house in order.


Considering various aspects like paying expenses out of the pocket, remarriage and insurance, insurance proves to be the most reliable and safest solution. The insurance cover should be proportional to the amount of financial loss that would be suffered or through a need based cost replacement analysis.


In addition to insurance to guard against financial liabilities in case of death of a home maker it is vital to also plan for a dream retirement home and college education funds through various insurance linked plans.


Health insurance:


It is also true that insurance needs to be taken for critical illness, prolonged illness, accident or a major hospitalisation for all family members. It would also be beneficial to take health insurance policies early in life to gain benefits like full cover of all ailments and lower premium.


However each family could have their own unique insurance needs, so taking the advice of a trusted financial planner in the form of an insurance advisor or trusted bank would help. They would render you correct information, best skills and advice based on your family’s financial circumatances, priorities and risk profile.


Insurance for the whole family also requires that all the adult family members be fully aware of all the insurance policies taken, their benefits and exclusions and where they are kept. Having an open discussion about long term savings and insurance plans both for the bread earner and home maker and for children build a better family understanding and bond. They also convey the message that proper life insurance coverage should form an integral part of financial planning in families.


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