One of the last remaining male bastions that quite a few women have broken into – India’s wealth management industry – has seen a reasonable representation of women money managers. Of these competent wealth managers, here are five women, whose trail-blazing achievements could inspire many more women to enter the field.
Apart from their own riches, these women manage other people’s wealth as well. With their knowledge spanning the entire gamut of financial products and their understanding of the markets, they aim to break the proverbial glass ceiling.
But what sets them apart from many of their male colleagues is this: the ability to convince women in households they advise, to come out of their shells and play a more active role in their families’ and their personal finances. Women in families need to take an interest in investing decisions along with the men.
Moneycontrol’s ‘Women In Power’ campaign highlights women who lead by example and can also teach men a thing or two about investing and financial planning for family goals. And what better way to demonstrate these than with their own examples. Here is what they have to say.
Shilpa Maheshwari, Executive Advisor, Matrix Partners India
#Mantra: Sow the seeds of independent financial decisions in your daughters early on.
As the saying goes, charity begins at home. Just like other good habits that parents want their children to inculcate, they should also encourage them to take interest in managing money at home. Financial planners say that this would inculcate a sense of financial independence and discipline early on in them.
Shilpa Maheshwari, Executive Advisor, Matrix Partners India, recalls her experience on how parents can sow the seeds of financial discipline and independence in their children early on. When she was just out of school and had migrated to a new city for college, she remembers her dad handing her a cheque for her expenses through the year. Now, the catch was that she did not have a bank account nor had she handled her expenses independently earlier. So, not only did she have to figure out how to open a bank account on her own, but also to manage her expenses within the funds available, as that was the allowance for the full year.
“It was a full year’s allowance and my father made it clear that extra money won’t be available,” she recollects. That was her first step in learning to manage funds wisely.
This episode got her to learn the nitty-gritty of personal banking, make budgets and manage expenses. This way, her parents not only encouraged her to be independent, but also taught her how to manage funds and her expenses very early on. It actually shaped her thought process on financial independence and how it could be a game changer in how you decide to lead your life.
Shilpa adds that her mantra for life is “Believe in yourself and your capabilities. If you don’t, no one else will.”
Shivani Bhasin Sachdeva, Founder and CEO, India Alternatives
#Mantra: Start investing early and take financial decisions jointly in a family.
Women should start investing early in their lives instead of waiting to accumulate a certain pot of money in their bank accounts. In fact, many financial planners say that right from the time you get your first salary, you should start investing a small sum. With the financialisation of savings taking off in India, there are enough investment products available to cater to varying risk profiles. Mutual funds also offer systematic investment plans that allow people to invest as little as Rs 500 every month.
Shivani Bhasin Sachdeva, Founder and CEO, India Alternatives, says that a woman’s financial journey shouldn’t come to a halt even after marriage. She says that every woman must be an equal partner in marriage, even when it comes to household finances and money management.
“Don’t fall prey to the stereotype that only men should handle household investments. That’s an outdated theory. In a traditional household, both men and women should take financial decisions together,” she says.
Shivani says that in a family, the husband must take an equal interest in household budgets and women must take an equal interest in financial investments. Both the spouses should work jointly towards the family’s financial goals. “It’s a team effort”, she reminds us. Increasingly more and more financial planners insist on women playing an active role in a household’s financial portfolio and even reviews. “Do not forget to get an adequate life and health insurance schemes for both spouses individually and also collectively as a family”, she says.
Supriya Rathi, Director and Principal Officer, Anand Rathi Insurance Brokers Pvt Ltd
#Mantra: Learn from your mistakes during investment journey.
Many of us remember falling while learning to ride a bicycle. But that’s how most of us learnt it. Financial planners constantly remind us that, similarly, it’s okay to make mistakes even in managing your own money. It’s okay to fail and fall. But that should not deter us from continuing to manage our money.
Supriya Rathi, Director and Principal Officer, Anand Rathi Insurance Brokers Pvt Ltd, had started investing her money on her own sometime around 1995-96. During her post-graduation years, she had begun taking a keen interest in equities. She started by reading books and newspapers on stock investments. But she made losses soon, because equity markets fell on the back of the South-East Asian financial crisis. This investment decision turned out to be a mistake, but it was still an exciting learning experience for her. She was not discouraged by it and did not give up.
Supriya says, “While investing, you need to understand your risk perspective, encumbrances and capital requirements over the years. Then plan to invest accordingly with a broad financial plan rather than investing only in equities and limiting investment to a few stocks.” Asset allocation is also important because it strikes a balance between risky and less-risky assets in your portfolio.
Arpita Vinay, Executive director at Centrum Wealth Management
#Mantra: Avoid investing in exotic investment schemes.
Many investors expect magic with their investments, when there is no scope for any such an outcome. That’s the simple and straight-forward financial advice from Arpita Vinay, Executive director at Centrum Wealth Management. Arpita says that there are some investment opportunities out there that, at first glance, look tempting enough to make you invest in them. When you make investments without understanding the basic underlying construct and therefore the risks that such products come with, you could end up making big losses.
There are some products that are probably meant only for the relatively ‘sophisticated’ investor. They require a high degree of familiarity, knowledge and experience and can be based on certain views and assumptions. Any change of context can lead to very different outcomes and these can come as a rude surprise for the uninitiated investor.
Arpita says, “It takes very little time for exotic investment schemes to become crazily toxic. Anything that promises to double overnight can harm overnight.” In the past few years, many people put their money in products and schemes that they did not fully understand. Things were not questioned when the going was good, but when the context changed, people realised that these fads weren’t quite the investment opportunity that was suitable for them.
The world of investments is becoming more and more complex. Investing time and effort in understanding markets and products is not only interesting but can also be very rewarding. It is always a good idea to seek professional help while making one’s investment journey.
Nisreen Mamaji, CFP – Founder and CEO, MoneyWorks FA
#Mantra: Diversify your investment portfolio and consult a certified financial planner to get down to the nitty-gritty of investments.
Daughters should be encouraged to manage their own money – earned or inherited. Every parent should resolve to empower girls with financial wisdom."
Women should decide on their goals and their timelines, and start investment plans early, on their own. It's better to make your own mistakes rather than suffer due to someone else's.
My financial journey started with investment in mutual funds, which were actually redeemed when we purchased our own home. This personal success prompted me to help other women and families through financial planning.
‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ is a common saying that we’ve all heard of. In the context of financial planning, this means that one should not invest in a single asset, since there are certain risks involved when investing money, which are beyond one’s control. Financial planners always advice investors to put their money in a basket of instruments. So, if one asset or instrument goes down, your entire portfolio doesn’t go down as well.
Nisreen Mamaji, CFP – Founder and CEO, MoneyWorks FA, says, “The biggest safety mechanism is diversifying investments across various investment avenues.” Nisreen doesn’t just advice diversifying into different instruments, but also across asset classes. For instance, don’t put all your money in just equities or debt, she says.
Being a financial planner herself, Nisreen strongly advocates women taking charge of their own finances. She says that women should be encouraged to manage their own money, be it their own earnings or inheritance.
“Don’t give away your earnings to men in the family for investing on your behalf. Women should take advice from certified financial planners to get down to the nitty-gritty of investments by identifying their short-term and long term goals,” Nisreen adds.