Friday, July 20, 2012

My interview with MyIRIS!

http://www.myiris.com/shares/company/ceo/showDetailInt.php?filer=20120719174610173&sec=ifa

Source: IRIS (19 July 2012)
`Financial planning is not just investing`
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In an interview with Pooja Chopra Goel of Myiris.com, Shilpi Johri, Head and Financial Planner, Arthashastra Consulting says, ``Contrary to popular belief, financial planning is not just investing. It is a process. It allows you to manage your finances in such a way that you link it to your goals.``

Can you tell us about `Arthashastra Consulting` and its mission & services? What services do you offer?

Arthashastra Consulting is a financial planning firm with the mission to make `Financial Planning` a household name with the Indian community around the world. At Arthashastra we believe in `Plan before you act`. A roadmap can help us live a confident life! We offer financial planning services and counseling in personal finance to individuals and families. We prepare comprehensive financial plans. We have clients from all walks of life stage i.e. young unmarried, families with young kids, individuals near retirement to retired persons.

We work on a consulting model and involve client and his/ her family in the financial planning process. We insist our clients for in-person or online chat sessions for the data gathering process and also during the plan presentation. Financial planning is a very engaging exercise. For the clients it is about their dreams, their hopes and their future. We ensure that they always find us as a friend, who they can trust. To achieve our goal of creating awareness about financial planning in public, we have started a blog dedicated to various aspects of financial planning (www.shilpijohri.blogspot.in). We also conduct financial planning workshops in corporates and small informal groups.

We are fee-only financial planners and charge our clients for the services offered to them.
We have no association with any financial services/ product company and earn `nothing` as commissions and referral fees. This ensures our clients of absolutely unbiased advice and recommendations on their financial plans.

What is one misconception about financial advisors you would want to refute?

Personal finance advisory in India has been limited to selling of various financial products like insurance, mutual funds, stocks, etc. The scene has changed now. Contrary to popular belief, financial planning is not just investing. It is a process. It allows you to manage your finances in such a way that you link it to your goals. You can look beyond product sales from your financial advisor. Depending upon their qualifications and experience, they are the professionals who can guide you through the complex web of personal finance.

Financial planning as a profession has started to make a mark now. You can look for CFP professionals (practicing financial planners) to help you understand and interweave the various aspects of your life i.e. personal, professional, health and financial into one fine landscape.

How does a financial advisor make his living and is there any conflict of interest between him and his customers?

The three models which financial advisors generally follow are:

> Fee-only: Where they charge individual clients for their services.

> Fee plus commission: Where they charge clients for the services and also earn commission from sale of financial products

> Commission only: Where they earn from the sale of financial products from the respective companies.

All models have their pros and cons. And it is up to the advisor to have such systems in place as to avoid any mutual discontentment with the clients.

We at Arthashastra follow fee-only model to avoid any confusion in people`s mind. The model assures our clients that there is no conflict of interest and they are getting what they are paying for i.e. unbiased financial planning advice.

How would you suggest a common investor ensure that their accounts are protected and not invested in dubious instruments?

Most people treat their finances and investment as `not so important` work. Going to a bank or filling an insurance form is considered a tedious job which if allowed can be delayed forever. They have to realize that managing money is no less important than earning money. It can`t play the second fiddle in life. And if they want to ensure that their hard earned money is safe and protected, they should make themselves financially literate. Small things like filling a form or reading a document should be done carefully. Continuous monitoring is must. Taking account of your investments or expenses at least once month can save you from `surprises` in future.


Do you think enough is being done to address the broader issue of financial literacy?

Financial literacy in India is at a nascent stage. Government, regulatory bodies, news channels, news papers, personal finance magazines, various non-profit organizations, individual financial planners and bloggers are doing their bit. But if we realize that public is suffering for the lack of financial literacy and is paying for their ignorance, the message should be spread on a mass scale. We need to have a louder voice. Financial literacy should be accepted as a mission like polio eradication. We need a collaborative approach by all interested parties.

 Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

I would like to use this opportunity to connect with my readers as an individual and as a family person. I would like to bring their attention to fact that 'our money is our concern'. We cannot remain ignorant and stationary and hope our desires to be fulfilled. We need to think, plan and act! And since most of our decisions, be it health, marriage, birth, education, profession, charity, relationships or lifestyle related have monetary aspect, let`s use financial planning as the foundation of decision making process.