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Why financial planning is relevant

By Nilesh Shah
May 31, 2011 10:45 IST
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InvestmentsUnlike in western countries, most of us don't devote enough time to growing wealth.

I have tried to analyse as to why we don't mind working extremely hard to earn money but feel lazy, even careless, in growing the same.

One reason can be that Brahmin (knowledge) comes before Vaish (money) in our caste hierarchy.

However, this does not make sense as we worship Goddess Saraswati and Goddess Lakshmi with equal devotion.

In today's materialistic world, I doubt if caste hierarchy can keep a person from growing wealth.

Another reason can be our social system of family bondage, which calls for making provisions for old age or unforeseen circumstances.

If a son or daughter is going to take care of parents, why not invest in them in terms of education or seed capital for business etc.

I wonder how can we ignore the changing face of society. Around us, we see hundreds of parents being neglected by their children.

The situation is going to worsen in future as harsh economic realities strain family ties.

It will be better to accept this reality sooner than later.

The concept of maintaining financial independence or sar uthake jiyo should motivate people to exercise financial planning and take good care of wealth.

Weakening family ties between children and parents or a desire for self dignity should make people embrace financial planning in all its seriousness.

Thankfully, the Indian economy has been fertile enough to ensure the seeds thrown randomly grow very well. Random investments in real estate, gold, equity etc, have grown to fetch handsome returns in an inflationary era.

However, this doesn't really make sense as the bulk of financial investment remains in fixed income securities, generating returns at just around or below the real rate of return.

Another probability may be that people are not materialistic enough to focus on money.

Again, this doesn't make sense as one sees them working hard to generate income and, hence, there is no reason why they shouldn't be motivated to work hard for growing their wealth.

People might have apprehensions over scams and procedural issues like bad delivery, broker defaults etc, for equity investment.

However, all these have become a thing of the past.

Our financial system infrastructure is as good as that of the developed world.

While these may have been issues decades back, they should not be a hurdle now.

Maybe the experience of investing in equity markets has been very bad for investors and, hence, people don't care about financial planning or growing their wealth from equities.

In a market where the Sensex has multiplied about 180 times over the last 31 years, how can investors not make money?

Indeed, if an investor has not made money in a steadily rising market, the need for financial planning should be felt much more.

It can also be that they are so confident of themselves, they don't need advise from any third party and, hence, a need for financial planning is not felt.

However, when one sees the allocation savings tilted towards fixed income schemes, the claim of expertise becomes suspect.

Thus, from which ever angle I see, there is a serious need for financial planning.

In today's world, where financial independence is required for everyone, it makes sense to go to a financial planner just like one goes to a doctor, lawyer or any other professional for taking advice.

There is no shame in going to a financial planner and taking his advice on growing wealth.

The writer is president (corporate banking), Axis Bank

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Nilesh Shah in Mumbai
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