It’s been more than 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 in the past 5 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).
During the last year (2018-2019), on an average I have received 6 to 8 financial planning service requests (per week) from my blog readers and I have been saying NO in a gentle way to all of them (unwillingly though).
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 or advice-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.
Last year around this time, I had published ‘my list of popular fee-based financial planners’ and glad to announce that the article has become quite popular on the web.
Let me now present ‘my list of popular fee only financial planners (Part-2)’. 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 & best 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 in India
Below is my list of top fee-only Personal Financial Planners in India ;
- Avinash Luthria of Fiduciaries.in
- Basavaraj Tonagatti of Basunivesh.com
- Chandan Singh Padiyar of Padiyars.com
- Swapnil Kendhe of Vivektaru.com
- Are you a Fee-only Advisor/Planner? : Yes. More precisely, using US terminology, I am an Advice-Only Financial Planner so my fees are a function of my effort and not a function of the client’s net worth nor assets under management i.e. my approach to fees is like that of a lawyer or a doctor.
- My current fees are a fixed fee (whether the client’s net worth is Rs 1 cr or Rs 100 cr) and I put in a roughly fixed number of hours of effort for all clients.
- Further, my engagement is customized for each client unlike the standardized approach which is more common in India. The customized approach involves going into sufficient detail to figure out the biggest issue or question for each client. I strongly believe that even DIY investors can benefit from a registered Investment Adviser’.
- Type of your firm (LLP/Pvt..) ? : Individual
- Is your firm registered with SEBI as IA? : Yes, as an Individual
- Year of Starting your firm/advisory services : 2018 (July)
- Year of starting fee only planning services : 2018 (July) i.e. I started as a Fee-Only Financial Planner &SEBI RIA
- Brief about your company : There are no other team members and all clients interact only with me.
- Do you provide Comprehensive FP services? : Yes
- Do you provide Financial plan execution support? :If a client is not able to implement something which fits the spirit of an RIA’s recommendations (e.g. purchasing Mutual Funds through a Direct Plan), then I handhold them to a limited extent till they learn how to do it. This is included within the overall service. But I do not implement anything for a client, even if the client would like me to.
- Brief about yourself (qualification, total work experience, num of years as fee only planner, hobbies, interests etc.,) : I was previously a Private Equity investor for 12 years of which a decade was as a Partner and member of the founding team at a top 5-10 independent Indian Private Equity & Venture Capital fund. I have a total of 18 years of full-time work experience and my prior experience includes being an entrepreneur, management consultant, project manager etc.
- I have a two-year full-time MBA from IIM Bangalore, a Bachelor’s in Engineering (Computer Science) from RVCE, Bangalore and I am a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). I have been a practitioner / student of finance& investing for more than three decades i.e. from a very young age. While I was a Private Equity investor, in my free-time on Sundays, I used to be a value-investing style direct-equity investor. I saw that as a way to get better at Private Equity investing. Various forms of investing have a lot in common, so I see being a Fee-Only Financial Planner &SEBI registered Investment Adviser (RIA) as just a continuation of the relatively risk-averse approach to investing that I have been following for 13+ years.
- Number of clients (only FP clients) : Undisclosed
- Fee range (approx& optional) : My current fees are – For new clients, Rs 25,000 for the first twelve-months. If an existing client chooses to renew the engagement while the current fees are applicable, then Rs 12,500 for the subsequent twelve-months.
- Do you provide services through online or offline or both modes? : Almost all of my discussions are over an audio call with an occasional video-call. So, the location of the client does not matter. Most of my clients are not based in Bangalore and they are based in some other city in India (e.g. Mumbai) or outside of India (e.g. the US).
- Types of other value added services offered (ex : Insurance claim processing, real estate consultancy, NRI taxation matters etc.,) : The only service that I offer is financial planning & investment advice. But within that, since my service is customized based on what is important to a client, the scope varies quite a bit.
- The most trivial example of this is, several of my resident Indian clients are open to having exposure to non-Indian investments. During my initial discussion with a potential client, I cover a few relevant areas that are outside the scope of the engagement. For example, while I think about Indian taxation while recommending investment products, there will be certain complex areas of taxation that are outside of my competence (e.g. taxation of real estate capital gains). So, I recommend that all clients have an Indian CA. Additionally, for NRIs (typically who plan to return to India after a few years), they have to consider taxation of the country that they are resident in. So, I recommend that they have a tax adviser who understands that country’s taxation e.g. US taxation.
- Do you receive commission from financial products directly or indirectly (through sister concern or family member)?? :No and neither directly nor indirectly. My agreement with clients specifies that I do not earn any commission and I do not earn any referral fee.
- Do you blog? If so, kindly provide your blog url link : I write in various publications such as Mint, Business Standard, The Kenetc and this page on my website provides links to those articles.
- Your email Id (official) : You can write to me at [email protected] .
- Kindly share few sentences , ‘Journey before becoming fee only planner’ : I have held the view for more than a decade that Indian investors should primarily invest in index funds and index-like funds. In 2010, my then colleagues and I came close to becoming private-equity majority-investors in Benchmark Mutual Fund (India’s only MF focused on index funds). This was even though regulations had not anticipated nor provided for such a possibility. However, eventually, Benchmark was acquired by Goldman Sachs and the business was subsequently acquired by Reliance (Capital’s) Mutual Fund. Benchmark’s schemes live on as India’s five actively traded ETFs. However, there is now no MF house to advocate for index funds; all three founders have left the business to return to being entrepreneurs; and no global index fund company is likely to enter India. Among investment products, I only recommend index fund and index-like funds i.e. I do not recommend active mutual funds. Though very few individual investors invest in index funds, to be a good investor, one has to be willing to do things that other people think is ridiculous.
- Kindly share few sentences , ‘Journey after becoming fee only planner, your opinion on fee-only FP& your learnings’ : My approach to financial planning primarily focuses on mitigating the downside instead of focusing on maximizing the upside. The reason is that maximizing the upside will require taking an irrational level of risk. And there is no predictable low-risk way to get rich through investing. So, I am not a suitable RIA for a potential client who is looking to get rich through investing. In investing one has to accept that one has most control over the process (i.e. to make rational decisions) and only limited control over the outcome (since randomness / luck plays a significant role).The question becomes — since no one can predict the future, what approach to asset allocation will mitigate my downside and maximize my probability of survival? Even if the client and the RIA together make somewhat rational decisions, due to randomness / luck, the outcome could be good or bad. So, it is a gradual process to find like-minded clients who accept this reality.
- Your future plans or initiatives? : Future periods of high or low returns will test all of us including myself and my clients. And investment history provides only partial answers. So, we all have to figure out the answers as we go along.
- Any other insight you would like to share with us.. : Two bits from articles that I have written. First, my article ‘Living with Zero Real Returns’ provides a very brief summary of an approach to calculating on the back of an envelope how much you should save for retirement. Second, this is an excerpt from my article ‘The two-headed Goliath—Mutual Funds and their distributors’: ‘Unnecessarily high fees of [Mutual Fund] AMCs and unnecessarily high commissions of distributors force investors to pay fees of an estimated 2% per annum as opposed to a more reasonable 1%. This 1% of excess fees eats up 1% of an investor’s investment each year. While the exact amount is debatable, the long-term impact is clear from simple arithmetic. If an investor surrenders 1% of her investment each year, then cumulated over 30 years, she has lost 26% of her investment’.
- Are you a Fee-only Advisor/Planner? : Yes, I am a Fee-Only Financial Planner.
- Type of your firm (LLP/Pvt..) ? : Individual.
- Is your firm registered with SEBI as IA? : Yes.
- Year of Starting your firm/advisory services : Since December 2011.
- Year of starting fee only planning services : Since June 2018.
- Brief about your company : I am a SEBI Registered Investment Advisor who is practicing the Fee-Only Financial Planning Module. I am also a CFP (Certified Financial Planner) and Blogger (www.basunivesh.com) since 2011.
- Do you provide Comprehensive FP services? : YES.
- Do you provide Financial plan execution support? : YES, definitely.
- Brief about yourself (qualification, total work experience, number of years as fee only planner, hobbies, interests etc.,) : My educational qualification is BCom, CFP. I have around 15 years of work experience in the field of finance as a Life Insurance Adviser, Mutual Fund Adviser, Finance Blogger and Financial Planner.
- Number of clients (only FP clients) : 135 Clients
- Fee range (approx & optional) : It is Rs.12,000 for Resident Indians and Rs.15,000 for NRIs for the first year. From second year onwards it is Rs.6,000 for Resident Indians and Rs.7,000 for NRIs.
- Do you provide services through online or offline or both modes? : I do provide both online and offline service.
- Types of other value added services offered (ex : Insurance claim processing, real estate consultancy, NRI taxation matters etc.,) : I handhold and guide during their Insurance Claim Processing, Taxation, Will Creation and other stuffs which are part of financial planning.
- Do you receive commission from financial products directly or indirectly (through sister concern or family member)? : NO. Because as per SEBI Regulations, I am prohibited to receive any commission or benefits (directly or indirectly) for any recommendations I do towards my clients.
- Do you blog? If so, kindly provide your blog url link : Yes, I run a blog since 8 Years and it is www.basunivesh.com.
- Your email Id (official) : [email protected] or [email protected]
- Kindly share few sentences , ‘Journey before becoming fee only planner’ : I started my professional journey as an LIC Agent in the year of 2006. Then entered into Mutual Funds in the year 2008. In the mean time, first time I heard something about CFP (Certified Financial Planner) and completed the same in 2011. Along with my planning activity, I started blogging in 2011 itself. However, I finally registered myself as SEBI RIA in June 2018.
- Kindly share few sentences , ‘Journey after becoming fee only planner, your opinion on fee-only FP & your learnings’ : So far it is a wonderful journey. I have acquired around 90% of my clients through online mode. Hence, there is no dearth of clients for me. I feel proud that I am into this wonderful profession where there is no conflict of interest and everything is client-centric.
- Your future plans or initiatives? : Currently I am handling around 20-30 clients a month. However, planning to set up infrastructure in such a way that I can handle around 100 clients a month without decreasing the quality on the service.
- Any other insight you would like to share with us.. : Nothing as such. But one thing is sure that Fee-Only Financial Planning is definitely a future where client can look forward a conflict free advisory from an expert.
Chandan Singh Padiyar
- Are you a Fee-only Advisor/Planner : Yes, I am providing my services on ‘Fee-only’ basis.
- Type of your firm (LLP/Pvt..) ? : My firm is Individual.
- Is your firm registered with SEBI as IA? : Yes, I am registered with SEBI as IA, My Registration No. is INA000008251.
- Year of Starting your firm/advisory services : I started my services from Jan-2013.
- Year of starting fee only planning services : I started Fee only Planning Services since Oct-2017.
- Brief about your company : At present I am providing ‘Comprehensive Financial Planning’ services and ‘Need based One to One Consultation’ services, I am based in Pune.
- Do you provide Comprehensive FP services? – Yes
- Do you provide Financial plan execution support? -Yes, I do provide execution support in the form of need based guidance
- Brief about yourself (qualification, total work experience, num of years as fee only planner, hobbies, interests etc.,) : I am a Simple person, I like doing things in a simple manner, I was born in Nainital, I completed my education in Pune, I have done my ‘Masters in Commerce’ from Pune University and ‘CFP’ from FPSB India. I am staying in pune with my parents along with Spouse and a son. I worked in Finance and Accounts Department of Companies for 20 Years and am into Personal Finance domain since 2013
- Number of clients (only FP clients) : Number of clients at present are 90
- Fee range (approx & optional) : The Fee range currently is Rs. 12,000 to Rs. 30,000, its on Flat Fee basis.
- Do you provide services through online or offline or both modes? : The services are available both on online and offline modes.
- Types of other value added services offered (ex : Insurance claim processing, real estate consultancy, NRI taxation matters etc.,) : No, currently there are no value added services provided directly, references are provided based on the need and complexity of assignment.
- Do you receive commission from financial products directly or indirectly (through sister concern or family member)? : No way, I work on pure Fee only Basis, no commissions directly or indirectly or in kind.
- Do you blog? If so, kindly provide your blog url link :Well I don’t blog, my website is padiyars.com.
- Your email Id (official) : My email ID is [email protected]
- Kindly share few sentences , ‘Journey before becoming fee only planner’ : The journey has been very good, lot of learning’s through ups and downs in life, gained a lot of experience in my 20 years of corporate life, Since I was in Finance and Accounts there was a lot of interaction with staff and management for Income Tax savings and since beginning I was interested in optimizing the cash flow and improving the savings for future in a safe manner.
- Kindly share few sentences , ‘Journey after becoming fee only planner, your opinion on fee-only FP & your learnings’ : The Journey after becoming fee only planner is very interesting as there is lot do in this field, still most of the people feel Financial planning means just investing in mutual funds to get maximum return, somehow financial planning word is linked either to Life Insurance products or Mutual Funds, also most of the people are investing only for maximum returns or income tax savings. People are still not saving as per their future needs. It’s an awesome feeling to help people simplify their financial life, clear their myths which they gather through brainstorming with friends and various advertisements. Some blogs like relakhs.com and freefincal.com are doing an excellent work of real unbiased financial literacy and spreading awareness about ‘Fee-only Financial Planning’ which has to great extent sown the seeds of need for ‘Fee-only Financial Planning’ in the minds of their followers.
- Your future plans or initiatives? : There is no specific plan as such, however I would like to start ‘Financial Planning workshops’ where more individuals can be served at a relatively lower cost.
- Any other insight you would like to share with us.. : Yes, I would like to say ‘Thank You’
- Are you a Fee-only Advisor/Planner : Yes
- Type of your firm (LLP/Pvt.) : Individual
- Is your firm registered with SEBI as IA? : Yes (as Individual)
- Year of Starting your firm/advisory services : 2017
- Year of starting fee only planning services : 2017
- Do you provide Comprehensive FP services? : Yes
- Do you provide Financial plan execution support? : I assist clients in purchasing commission free products online if such assistance is required.
- Brief about yourself (qualification, total work experience, num of years as fee only planner, hobbies, interests etc.) : I do not have any formal education in personal finance and investing and learned everything by following my curiosity and through voracious reading. I worked as an insurance agent and a mutual fund distributor for 5 years before becoming a SEBI RIA in October 2017. I have been working on fee only financial planning model since then. I enjoy reading. Most of my reading is related to personal finance and investing but occasionally I take out time to read Marathi poetry and Marathi literature which I love.
- Number of clients (only FP clients) : I have over 120 fee paying financial planning clients at present.
- Fee range (approx & optional) : Currently annual fee for financial planning is ₹12,000 and ₹7,000 for second year review.
- Do you provide services through online or offline or both modes? : Both
- Types of other value added services offered (ex: Insurance claim processing, real estate consultancy, NRI taxation matters etc.,) : In addition to financial planning, I do couple of sessions with my clients at the start of the financial planning engagement in which I discuss basics of money management and practicalities of investing.
- Do you receive commission from financial products directly or indirectly (through sister concern or family member)? : No.
- Do you blog? If so, kindly provide your blog url link : I do not blog frequently. I occasionally write guest articles for freefincal.com.But I regularly post on LinkedIn, Twitter and my Facebook page. You may visit my website at vivektaru.com.
- Your email Id (official) : [email protected]
- Kindly share few sentences, ‘Journey before becoming fee only planner’ : I am a Chemical Technologist by education. I worked with Marico Ltd. and Hindustan Unilever Ltd. as a production executive for 3 years. In 2011, I left the job to do something of my own and started a business. Business did not work as expected and I had to close it within a year. When I had nothing else to do, I applied for the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) agency on a friend’s suggestion for temporary source of income until I find something worthwhile to do. But Ifound it interesting. I began reading, studying and exploring personal finance and investing aggressively. It became the principal activity of my life. In mid-2013, I became a mutual fund distributor and stopped selling LIC policies. This led to the termination of my LIC agency. I also sold health insurance for some time but then transferred my health insurance business to a senior health insurance agent and became a full-time mutual fund distributor.
- In early 2014, I decided to move to fee-only model because it is more upright and dignified way of earning money as an adviser, and I felt that it suits me better than the commission model. Since I did not have a relevant postgraduate degree, I needed to fulfil five-year minimum experience criteria to apply for RIA registration, which was still three and half years away. I used this time to build my competence as an adviser. I applied for RIA registration immediately after fulfilling 5-year minimum experience criteria and got the registration in late Oct 2017.
- Kindly share few sentences, ‘Journey after becoming fee only planner, your opinion on fee-only FP& your learnings’ : After registration, I began bringing my mutual fund clients to fee-only model. Online business did not work for me for first 5 months, though I was part of the list of fee-only advisers maintained on freefincal.com. I got online business after my first two guest articles in freefincal.com in March and June 2018, but it dried up quickly. By July 2018, I had brought most of my bigger MF clients to fee only model and I did not have much of an online business either. In late July 2018 I worked on my website and made it SEO friendly. I also began posting regularly on social media. I do not know what exactly worked, but I began getting a steady flow of online business from Aug 2018 onwards. Today most of my new business comes online. Referrals have also started working for me now. ‘Fee-Only’ model of advisory does work in India but it demands higher degree of competence on part of an adviser compared to what he/she can get away with in commission-based model.
- Your future plans or initiatives? : I will continue to work on affordable fee-only model and charge fee in proportion to the work and not in proportion of client’s assets. Apart from that, I do not have any future plans. I believe that if I concentrate on becoming a better financial planner and have online visibility, business will follow. No need not worry about it and I find joy in doing things well. I will stop taking new clients if I feel that volume of business is impacting the quality of my work. I am increasingly becoming fluent at the work I do and therefore my ability to handle a higher volume of business is also increasing.
- Any other insight you would like to share with us? : The size of the pie is increasing for fee-only financial planners in India. In fact, ‘Fee-Only’ is fast becoming the bestselling point in advisory business in India.
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.
You may also visit this link for the full list of Certified Financial Planners in India. (Kindly note that a CFP certification may or may not be a Fee-only Financial planner.)
My sincere thanks to these wonderful and awesome financial 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 posting similar posts (list of popular Financial planners) as and when it is required.
“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 :
- My List of popular Fee-only Financial Planners (Part-1)
- My Favorite Personal Finance Blogs | Financial Websites that I follow & learn from!
- Basics of Financial Planning – PPT (Power Point Presentation)
- My 6 Core Personal Financial Planning principles!
- 5 Personal Financial Mistakes that I have committed…!
- The importance of numeracy in becoming Financially Literate!
- List of Articles on the key Components of Personal Financial Planning
(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 : 18-March-2019)