In a relatively young financial market, the biggest challenge faced by the Indian financial investors is the unavailability of unbiased financial advice. For long, we have been used to buying financial products recommended by agents or relationship managers, who sell those products merely for gaining commissions. The mis-selling cases of ULIPs, the mass number of money-back policies sold by LIC agents, and the regular churning of fund portfolio as suggested by the friendly “relationship manager” are some of the cases where the Indian Investors have been cheated of their money. What happens to be a free and friendly financial advice often results in disappointing financial benefits.
To deal with this. in 2013, SEBI introduced the concept of SEBI Registered Investment Advisers (RIA), who are authorized to provide investment ideas, and provide financial planning by charging a fee.
finvestor.in, which is a Pune based startup, was founded in July 2015 by two friends, Krishna Rath & Rahul Malewar, both of whom worked together in the IT division of a US based Fortune 500 company and worked extensively on commission and distribution platforms for financial services, including RIAs. It was a matter of time when they realized that if in US there is a shift from commission based selling to fee based advisory,sooner than later, fee based advisory will become popular in India too.
For Krishna and Rahul , it was challenging to give final shape to finvestor.in considering the market dynamics in India and the ‘habit’ of taking free financial services by most of the investors in India . For a service based marketplace, and that too in a field where customers are ready to take free advice from unqualified sources, gaining customer confidence posed a big challenge in front of them.
finvestor.in deals with this issue by listing only those RIAs who promise not to mislead customers into buying products from the RIA’s distribution branches. A star based feedback system also ensures that customers concerns can be addressed. finvestor.in lists SEBI Registered Investment Advisors (RIA), who are as per SEBI IA Regulation 2013 eligible to provide investment advice.
While the concept of financial planning did exist prior to SEBI IA 2013, many financial planners were also selling products. Now, financial planners and investment advisors cannot sell financial products and can only provide advice, that too after calculating the financial risk appetite of an individual.
Apart from providing paid services, finvestor.in also has a free section where customers can post their immediate financial queries and get them resolved by SEBI RIAs for free.
The difference in getting a fee based comprehensive investment advice (Rs 9,999+) versus free advice from some agent is estimated to be at least 50 Lakhs in the next 10 years for a family earning about 80,000 per month. In addition to the extra wealth generated, the customer in a fee based planning gets the right amount of insurance, the right amount of retirement corpus, and the right information for a secure financial future.
“With rising income, shorter career life due to increased private jobs, and challenging economic conditions, it is important for everyone to execute a financial plan, so that wealth creation becomes easier. A fee only financial planner can suggest ways to insure and invest as per an individual’s family conditions and goals.” said Krishna Rath, who himself is a SEBI RIA and an IIM Alumnus, to TOS.
Commenting on the recent wave of robo-advisors Krishna said “Not everything can be computed and given as an output to an investor. There are several qualitative inputs that goes into giving a financial suggestion and it will be some time before a robot takes over”.