My List of popular Fee-only Financial Planners (Part-1) | Based on my interactions & observations

It’s been close to 10 years that I have been self-employed in ‘Personal finances’ field. I had donned the role of a trainer cum financial planner for the first five years and a blogger for the last 4 years.

I like both roles as they give immense opportunities to meet many people, understand their personal finances and provide unbiased financial advice.

Due to certain personal commitments, I had to abruptly close down my financial planning services and started concentrating on full-time blogging only (as it gives me 100% work-flexibility).

Though I am extremely satisfied with my blogging work, it is next to impossible to provide comprehensive financial planning assistance to blog readers through blog posts/comments alone (not advisable also).

For the last one year or so, I have been receiving financial planning requests from many of my blog readers (minimum 2 to 5 service requests per week) and I have been saying NO in a gentle way to all of them (unwillingly though).ReLakhs blog reader's query

But, I always wish my blog readers get THE RIGHT & unbiased advice, it does not really matter to me whether its through ReLakhs or through any other service provider. Hence, have been suggesting and referring them to a few fee-only financial planners (but I am not associated with them) whom I believe are very talented, honest and follow good business ethics. I have been following their work closely & interacting with them for the last few years and I can confidently say that these individuals are some of the best fee-only financial planners that you will come across in India.

Before introducing them, let us first understand the term ‘fee-only financial planner’. Who is a fee-only financial planner? Who is a SEBI registered Investment Advisor?

If you are a DIY investor (Do It Yourself), you wish to create a financial plan and manage your finances all by yourself. In case, you would like someone else to assist you to manage your personal finances then you look out for ;

  • A mutual fund distributor or an Independent Financial Advisor
  • An Insurance Agent
  • A relationship manager who works for a bank/NBFC/Financial institution (or)
  • A SEBI Registered Investment Advisor

There are two broad categories of financial advisers/ financial planners as below;

  • Product sellers (advice can be ancillary or incidental to business) – They generally do not charge any fee from their clients but receive commissions form financial services providers. For example ; Mutual fund distributors, insurance agents and banks fall in this category.
  • Pure Advisors : They charge only for the advice offered and do not accept/receive any commissions from financial service/product providers. SEBI Registered Investment Advisers fall in such categories.

As per SEBI Investment Advisers Regulations – 2013, the SEBI registered IAs are prohibited from accepting any commissions. They can only charge fee to their clients.

Who is a Fee-only Financial Planner? – A planner who charges a flat fee to his/her client is a fee-only financial planner. He/she does not get commission from any other sources. The fee is not linked to the assets being managed. Hence, it makes sense to opt for a fee-only financial planner.

Let me now present you my list of popular fee only financial planners in India. Kindly note that this is definitely not a comprehensive list and is just based on my personal observations and interactions (directly / indirectly) with them.

It’s just that I am fortunate enough to know about these financial planners and have been learning a lot from them. I am sure there are many more such popular financial planners who are equally talented (if not more) that I am not in touch or may be not aware of (personally)..

Let’s learn more about them in their own words. Below are their responses to the questionnaire that I have sent to them.

My List of popular Fee-only Financial Planners

Below is my list of top fee-only Personal Financial Planners in India ;

  • Deepesh Raghaw of PersonalFinancePlan.in
  • Dev Ashish of StableInvestor.com
  • Melvin Joseph of Finvin.in
  • Soubhagya Kumar of Succinctfintech.com

popular Fee-only Financial Planners Best Financial Planners in India CFP SEBI Registered Investment Advisors RIA IFA Online financial planning services pics

DeepeshDeepesh Raghaw

  1. Are you a Fee-only Advisor/Planner? : Yes
  2. Type of your firm (LLP/Pvt..) ? : Individual
  3. Is your firm registered with SEBI as IA? : Yes (as individual)
  4. Year of Starting your firm/advisory services : Feb 2015
  5. When did you launch Fee-only FP Services? : Feb 2015 (started with a fee-only practice)
  6. Do you provide Comprehensive FP services? : Yes
  7. Do you provide Financial plan execution support? : I provide limited execution support in direct plans investments through MF Utility portal. The clients can avail this support for no extra charge.
  8. Brief about yourself : I am a B.Tech and MBA in Finance from IIM-Lucknow. Have cleared all levels of CFA exam. Love to read. Follow tennis and cricket. You can call me a Federer fan.
  9. Number of clients (only FP clients): Approximately 80
  10. Consultancy Fee range : I keep reviewing the fee structure from time to time. Currently, the annual fee for financial planning is Rs 25,000 (plus GST).
  11. Do you provide services through online or offline or both modes? : Both. It is primarily remote advisory model. Information is exchanged over phone, e-mail or Skype.
  12. Any other value added services that you offer? : I do not formally assist clients in claim settlements/taxation matters. However, we do discuss such matters during planning. If they face issues especially pertaining to insurance and investment, I try to guide about the approach they can take to resolve such matters.
  13. Do you receive commission from financial products directly or indirectly (through sister concern or family member)?? : No
  14. Do you blog? If so, kindly provide your blog URL address : www.PersonalFinancePlan.in
  15. Your email Id (official) : deepesh.raghaw@personalfinanceplan.in
  16. Kindly share few sentences on – ‘Journey before becoming a fee-only planner’ : I used to work with a bank before starting PersonalFinancePlan.in. I always had passion for personal finance and believed I could add value to financial well-being of many families. Found out about SEBI Investment Adviser Regulations. Figured out an insightful blog could serve the dual purpose of investor education and help set up a sustainable fee-only and conflict-free advisory practice.
  17. Kindly share few sentences on – ‘Journey after becoming a fee-only planner, your opinion on fee-only FP & your learnings’ : The journey has been great. There have been many ups and downs. Took a long time to make my first client. The good part was that it allowed me bandwidth to work on my blog. Gradually, the leads and referrals started flowing in. Writing (and being interviewed) for leading business dailies and publications and personal finance shows on television also helped. Honestly, charging fee is not very easy. Investment advisory and financial planning business has traditionally been built around commissions and brokerage. Not everyone is willing to write a cheque. Fortunately, investors are starting to realize the value of conflict-of-interest-free investment advice and warming up to the idea. Tough road ahead, but the signs are encouraging.
  18. Your future plans / any new initiatives? : Keep learning. They are many aspects about investments and financial planning that I need to learn. This will help add greater value to many existing and future clients. Keep sharing the knowledge through the blogThrough professional financial planning and investment advisory services, I can create value for a limited number of families. High upfront fees of fee-only advisors can be a constraint for many families. Through a blog, you can affect financial lives of many families in a small yet effective manner. I am considering video tutorials and workshops but nothing is concrete yet.

Dev AshishDev Ashish Stable investor

  1. Are you a Fee-only Advisor/Planner? : Yes (a Fee-only Investment Advisor)
  2. Type of your firm (LLP/Pvt..) ? : Individual License
  3. Is your firm registered with SEBI as IA? : I am registered with SEBI in an individual capacity as a RIA.
  4. Year of Starting your firm/advisory services : 2016
  5. Year of launching your fee-only planning services : 2016
  6. Brief about your company : Currently, I offer comprehensive financial planning, retirement planning and children’s future goal planning services to fee-paying client.
  7. Do you provide Comprehensive FP services? : Yes.
  8. Do you provide Financial plan execution support? : No. Though I guide clients about how to implement their financial plan on their own. This also ensures that in due course of time, they become self-sufficient.
  9. Brief about yourself : MBA (Narsee Monjee, Mumbai), B.Tech.; Total Work Experience – 8+ years; No. of years as Registered Investment Advisor – 2+ years; Hobbies include travelling, reading and cycling. In recent times, I am trying to force myself to take up fitness training as my next big interest 🙂
  10. Number of clients (only FP clients) : Undisclosed
  11. Consultancy Fee range : For full financial planning and investment advisory, the fee begins from Rs 20,000 + taxes. Though lower cost options available if one is looking only to get a Goal-specific plan for individual goals like Retirement Planning or Children’s Future Planning.
  12. Do you provide services through online or offline or both modes? : Both modes
  13. Types of other value added services offered (ex : Insurance claim processing, real estate consultancy, Income Tax Filing etc.,) : Mutual Fund Portfolio Advisory (currently not open for new clients. To reopen soon).
  14. Do you receive commission from financial products directly or indirectly (through sister concern or family member)?? : No
  15. Do you blog? If so, kindly provide your blog url link : You can find my writings at www.stableinvestor.com. I am also very active on twitter. Here is the twitter handle if anyone is interested – @StableInvestor
  16. Your email Id (official) : dev@stableinvestor.com
  17. Kindly share few sentences on – ‘Journey before becoming fee only planner’ : NA
  18. Kindly share few sentences on – ‘Journey after becoming fee only planner, your opinion on fee-only FP& your learnings’:
    •  I have been fortunate enough to have a good following via my website. And the best part is that most readers of my website understand what is the real power of a well-thought out investment strategy which is practical enough to be implemented. I try to promote the idea of goal-based investing for most people. Its intuitive, simple to understand and most importantly, keeps the financial goals at the center and then creates a financial-cum-investment plan.And that is what really works in personal finance for most of us. You don’t need to beat anybody else in investing to achieve your financial goals. Isn’t it? So its best for people to identify their real financial goals and invest accordingly and prudently and without being too adventurous. That is more than sufficient.
    • And if they are unable to sort out their finances on their own, there is nothing wrong in taking help from investment advisors. I am not saying this because I am one myself. But because these advisors have seen many similar situations and know what is the best way out. Its like taking medicines. You can self-medicate to some extent but beyond that, you do need a doctor’s advice. Same is the case with taking advice from investment advisor.
    • And to be honest, a few good pieces of advice from the advisor can really pay for several years worth of their fee.
  19. Your future plans or initiatives? : Some of the things are in planning stage. But I should soon be able to take up new clients for ‘Mutual Fund Portfolio Advisory’ which many people are requesting me for.
  20. Any other insight you would like to share with us : I personally feel if you figure out money, life is damn easy. But if you don’t, its incredibly tough and stressful. People need to understand that money is not the sole aim of life nor one should aim to become the richest man in graveyard. But money should be handled well to allow it to help us lead a life that we really want and deserve. That’s all I can say.

Melvin JosephMelvin sir pic

  1. Are you a Fee-only Advisor/Planner : Yes. I started my firm in 2010. From the inception, it is on Fee Only Model.
  2. Type of your firm (LLP/Pvt..) ? : Sole Proprietorship
  3. Is your firm registered with SEBI as IA? : Yes. My registration number is INA000000342 registered as Individual RIA.
  4. Year of Starting your firm/advisory services :2010
  5. Year of starting of fee-only planning services : 2010
  6. Brief about your company : I started Finvin Financial planners in 2010 after working for more than 20 years in Financial Sector. My mission is “ to be a reliable partner with each of my clients and help them in reaching their financial goals by offering unbiased advice at affordable prices.”
  7. Do you provide Comprehensive FP services? : Yes
  8. Do you provide Financial plan execution support? : I support clients in investing under direct plan online through the fund house website and purchasing life insurance online through the insurance company website.
  9. Brief about yourself : My qualifications are – MBA (Finance), CFP, Fellow Of Insurance Institute of India (FIII) and PG Diploma in Financial advising. I worked in the financial sector for more than 20 years before starting Finvin in 2010. At age 50, I don’t have any hobbies. I spend lot of time in supporting needy Kids for their education.
  10. Number of clients (only FP clients) : 320
  11. Fee range : Flat Annual Fee: First year -12,000 (NRIs -17, 000, Senior Citizen & Single Mother- 7000). Renewal Fee for all – 5000. GST extra. It is given in my website also. Clients can contact me any number of times for any support.
  12. Do you provide services through online or offline or both modes? : Yes, both. I have more online clients. I have clients in almost all Indian cities and around 100 NRI clients.
  13. Types of other value added services offered (ex : Insurance claim processing, real estate consultancy, NRI taxation matters etc.,) : I support families in case of insurance claim processing.
  14. Do you receive commission from financial products directly or indirectly (through sister concern or family member)?? : No, because I never sold any products directly or indirectly. I am against the dual role of advisor & distributor.  I am a supporter of Fee Only Financial Planning.
  15. Do you blog? : If so, kindly provide your blog url link : I do not blog. But, my firm’s website is www.finvin.in
  16. Your email Id (official) : melvin@finvin.in
  17. Kindly share few sentences on – ‘Journey before becoming fee only planner’: I worked in the life insurance sector (both public & Private sector companies) in different cadres from Assistant to Country Head of a Top Private Sector Life Insurance Company. Large scale mis-selling is happening across companies. Financial products are made complicated to exploit the lack of financial literacy of the common man. What I have seen in these years made me to get out and start my own firm. I started working as a Fee only Financial planner from 2010, before SEBI come out with Investment Advisors Regulations 2013.
  18. Kindly share few sentences on – ‘Journey after becoming fee only planner, your opinion on fee-only FP & your learnings’ : It was a tough journey from 2010 to 2014. People find it difficult to pay the fee directly to the planner. But once they realize the value addition by engaging a Fee Only planner, there is excellent response. Now I am adding around 15 new clients every month. I am associated with a movement called Fee Only India (FOI), where we support new Fee Only Planners to come and start practice.
  19. Your future plans or initiatives? : I want to remain Finvin as a small firm offering unbiased financial advice at affordable prices.
  20. Any other insight you would like to share with us : There is a list of Fee Only Financial planners prepared by Pattabiraman Murari, Professor of IIT, Chennai. If you are interested in engaging a Fee Only Financial Planner, you can get the details of around 10 financial planners from this list.

Soubhagya KumarSoubhagya pic

  1. Are you a Fee-only Advisor/Planner : Yes! Fee-Only Advisor
  2. Type of your firm (LLP/Pvt..) ? : Pvt Ltd
  3. Is your firm registered with SEBI as IA? :Yes
  4. Year of Starting your firm/advisory services : July 2011
  5. Year of starting of fee-only planning services : July 2011
  6. Brief about your company : The sole aim of the company is to bring corporate culture of Fee-Only practice in India serving clients across globe. We neither sell any financial products, nor even endorse or promote such investments, loans or insurance products from third parties.The major fee-only service areas are, Comprehensive FP, Investment Advisory, Tax Services & NRI Services.
  7. Do you provide Comprehensive FP services? : Yes
  8. Do you provide Financial plan execution support? :
    • For us, execution support means, what ever recommendations we give, it will have an enclosure with detailed process on how to execute. For example; if MF Investments w.r.t. SIP, SWP/STP, Lump sum or redemptions recommended, then that can either be done directly or by visiting MF office or make investments directly through AMCs’ websites, or use some free accounts such as MFU, MyCAMS, KARVY accounts etc. Same applies for Equity Stocks (yes, we do cover this area as well), but investor should use their own brokerage account to invest (only long positions, no speculative actions recommended).
    • We explain the process on how to make cash buy/delivery-based transactions, generate statements etc. All market linked investments should strictly adhere to the risk profiling questionnaire. Similarly, any actions, like change in home loan rates, update nominee, unresolved account or tax issues, what needs to be asked/requested to bank/ITD, what basic documentations required are suggested. Processes for aligning estate planning, clutter clearance, formats are also shared. All these are our own creations and source of info will be AMCs or Bank/Insurance/Lender companies’ websites or we write to them asking their process so that we further simplify and deliver to our clients.
  9. Brief about yourself : Kindly visit ‘team’ section of our website.
  10. Number of clients (only FP clients) : Undisclosed
  11. Consultancy Fee range Our Fee for financial advisory & planning is 1% of annual gross income with minimum Rs. 20,000 to the maximum of Rs. 35,000 (GST will be applicable extra). However, we further discuss in detail about client’s current profile, complexity areas to arrive at a pertinent fee as applicable. We believe in not charging high or low, but a right one which makes you feel justified. Our retainer/renewal fee remains in the same range because it’s not just about quick review or actions plans, but be with the clients& their families for lifelong by justifying our presence.
  12. Do you provide services through online or offline or both modes?: Both
  13. Types of other value added services offered (ex : Insurance claim processing, real estate consultancy, NRI taxation matters etc.,)We aren’t involved in insurance claim process or real estate consulting, but we will be there with our clients (or with their family members) in case of any second opinion or process guidance is required. At present, we handle Comprehensive FP, Investment Advisory (not limited to MFs only), simple to complex tax matters whether for resident or non-resident or direct tax or indirect taxes. We also perform all kind of IT returns filing, salaried, business & profession, partnership etc (except audit cases). Second Opinion on Financial & tax matters are also part of our service.
  14. Do you receive commission from financial products directly or indirectly (through sister concern or family member)? :No
  15. Do you blog? If so, kindly provide your blog url link : It’s www.succinctfp.com
  16. Your email Id (official)info@succinctfintech.com or soubhagya.patra@succinctfintech.com
  17. Kindly share your views on – ‘Journey before becoming fee only planner’
    • This is not a one man’s journey, but two. During college (PGDM 2006-08), my friend cum co-founder Bhuvaneshwer Prasad and I were highly motivated by our Marketing Professor who always say, “If you want to be an entrepreneur then make sure, Never Pollute Environment, do something which the end user really get benefited (not just in your terms, but in user’s terms)”. These are not just two lines, but a lot meant to us. So is the reason we started digging into some concepts (a business model) where customers or investors aren’t sold, but served.
    • Then we came up with terminologies of fiduciary responsibility, free from conflict of interest or be unbiased. We believe the best way to fulfill the responsibility as an advisor is to be Fee-Only. This removes as many conflicts as possible and puts us firmly on your side. But these theories weren’t enough to execute. What we needed was, real time experience. Upto year 2011, we worked into Wealth management & insurance companies which helped us to gain knowledge on various investment products like, MFs, Equities, PMS, Private equities or other alternative investments along with loan products and insurance too. During this phase, I could complete CFP from FPSB India in first attempt and all thanks goes to my teacher and mentor Padmalochani Mam.
    • In the short span of approx. 4 years into financial services industry, we discovered (frequently came across), one silent question that was never answered; “I want to know, what should I do?”. It was being asked by a both prospective and existing investors, loan borrowers, insured, but instead of getting the right answer/assistance they got sold one more product. I don’t blame the RMs or agents doing this, but the companies culture which forced him/her to do so. Now, we needed to work on something to make a revenue model by assisting clients keeping in mind ‘client’s interest’ first. So we incorporated “Succinct” means clearly expressed.
  18. Kindly share few sentences on – ‘Journey after becoming fee only planner, your opinion on fee-only FP& your learnings’The initial phase after becoming a fee-only planner was little confusing w.r.t. sustainability and earnings. But this confusion soon got over when we could retain our first client and received the same fee as first year. Because of confidentiality agreement, I cannot reveal the name, but we thank to him from the bottom of our heart for his trust towards us when we started and continuing with us till now. Our good work, clients’ referral, word of mouth, workshops on different subjects helped us to add more number of clients YoY and continued to retain them too. We must say, there is a huge potential in term of areas to serve to clients and earnings for planners. Getting registered with SEBI RIA under the regulation 2013 is another milestone for us that added value and credibility among existing clients and prospects.
  19. Your future plans or any new initiatives? : Never divert from core objective of being Fee-Only Financial Advisor. As mentioned, our aim is to create a corporate culture of fee-only practice and extend the number of branches to serve maximum clients. Creating employment, is another objective for those who want to choose this as career path. As a part of corporate social responsibilities, we are contemplating to work for needy and homeless people. Soon we will publish the model and agenda in our website.
  20. Any other insight you would like to share with us : Customers/Clients are your strength, so work on boosting the strength by meeting the need PROACTIVELY. Whether they ask or not, a continues interaction and engagement with them is the key to success.

Conclusion:

In case, you are actively looking for a fee-only financial planner who can guide and lead you through today’s financial jungle with ease, kindly contact these financial planners or visit this link for a more comprehensive list of fee-only financial planners.

My sincere thanks to these wonderful and awesome planners for responding to my questionnaire and accepting my request to ‘feature’ in my blog post.

As my journey in ‘Personal finances’ field continues, will definitely come across more fee-only planners. So, I will keep publishing similar posts as and when it is required. quote

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  Whether you plan your finances by yourself or through an advisor, it’s is your choice. But, have a financial plan!

Continue reading :

(Kindly note that ReLakhs.com is not associated with any of the above mentioned Financial planning service providers. We have not received any monetary benefit for publishing this article. This post is for information purposes only and not to endorse any service provider. We are not biased towards any specific company.)

(Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net) (Post first published on : 27-April-2018)

  • Aparna Datt says:

    Very honest efforts . Do we have similar fee only based health insurance advisors too ?

    • Sreekanth Reddy says:

      Dear Aparna,
      I am confident that most of the fee-only financial planners are capable of providing comprehensive financial planning services which includes Insurance planning as well.

  • Registered Investment Advisor says:

    Thumbs up. Thanks for the useful article.

  • Narasi says:

    Hi,
    If finance planner get the fees only .But whatever they recommend the investments has to go through the direct/prescribed portals or physically with institutions who again get the brokerage commission isn’t it? I will end up paying commissin in both places ( one for FP & one in portal)
    But if you take icici FP or bajaj capital they do take commission or they will have reservations but all other physical aspects are taken care ( end of the day my incestement should have some decent ROI?)

    • Sreekanth Reddy says:

      Dear Narasi,
      Let’s get this right : Not all fee-only planners are good and not all Advisors/Agents are bad.

      But, the main point is ‘conflict of interest’.

      In case of fee-only planners, the conflict of interest can be NIL.

      If we go to a bank and inquire about investment product, will they recommend the suitable product to us or will they recommend the one for which they are paid more (commission). What say?

  • wealthbuildup says:

    Thanks for sharing. its helpful for us.

  • Ranjit Singh says:

    Great Article.
    I need an suggestion from you.

    My cousin has just got his RIA licence and he is working in IT industry..he wants to test the waters before jumping full time..so After office hours and on week ends he is handling clients and working as Advisor.

    I am little concern if Sebi RIA compliance will allow this as he has 2 sources of Income!

    Your Advice will be highly appreciated.

    Thanks

    • Sreekanth Reddy says:

      Dear Ranjit,
      I am not very sure on this.
      You may kindly suggest your cousin to contact any of the above Advisors and I am sure they will guide him.

  • Vijay Mishra says:

    Hi…very helpful article…have a question…I have seen mutual fund distributors not affiliated to any co/institution calling themselves IFA.. Independent Financial Advisor..is this allowed?..they also give advice..

  • business listings says:

    Great Sree.

    It’s a wonderful article and helpful for me to start from here.

  • Ajay says:

    Dear Sreekanth,

    Thanks for the good article. One question – on what basis a salaried person can decide whether to go to a fee-only financial planner or to keep on following a DIY approach ? whether there are check points one can use to arrive at that decision ?

    • Dear Ajay,
      There is no defined template as such.
      If you are comfortable managing your finances, if you are not sure about your investment decisions, if you do not have the required expertise/skills, if you do not have the time to create and execute a financial plan, if you would like to take second opinion, if you would like someone else to help you in making informed decisions, if you would like someone to control your emotions while making financial decisions… then can certainly look for a fee-only financial planner.

  • Amazing article Sreekanth. These days there is good demand for fee only financial planners as they focus on financial planning and not on selling investment or insurance products. I have few more articles on freefincal where Pattu sir has been writing about fee only financial planners and seen huge reactions from investors. This indicates that investors pulse about fee only financial planners. I feel the demand for such financial planners would grow faster in future.

    • Dear suresh,
      Yes, there is a growing awareness levels about fee-only FP services, especially in Metro or large cities.
      But, the industry itself is in a nascent stage but the growth opportunities are huge for the smart, hard-working and honest FPs, who put Clients’ interest first..albeit the growth can be slow and steady!

  • Dr. Jawahar Lal bansal says:

    Dear Srikanth,why your name is not there in the list?

  • Great Sree.

    It’s a wonderful article and helpful for me to start from here.

  • kanak gupta says:

    Hello,

    Thanks for great information,

    its very useful

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