One of the last remaining male bastions that quite a few women have broken into, India’s wealth management industry has seen a decent proportion of women money managers. But if these five women wealth managers are anything to go by, the industry can see several women entering the field.
Aside from their own wealth, these women manage other people’s wealth as well. With their knowledge across financial products and their understanding of financial markets, they aim to break the stereotype.
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 family finances as well as their personal finances. There is a need for women in families 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 on investing and financial planning for family goals. And what better way to demonstrate this than their own examples. Let us hear what they have to say.
Shilpa Maheshwari - Executive Advisor, Matrix India Asset Advisors Pvt Ltd
#Mantra: Sow the seeds of independent financial decisions in your daughters.
As the saying goes, charity begins at home. Just like other habits, children can be encouraged to take an interest in managing money at home. Financial planners add that a family must encourage its daughters to manage their money too. Instead of making monthly allowances a habit, planners say that it’s always a better idea to inculcate financial independence in them.
Shilpa Maheshwari, Executive Advisor, Matrix India Asset Advisors Pvt Ltd, shares her experience on how parents can sow the seeds of making independent financial decisions in their children. Just out of school and having migrated to a new city for college, she remembers her dad having given her a cheque. There was a condition. Shilpa’s father had asked her to figure out a bank to open an account with, deposit the cheque and use the money wisely.
“It was a full year’s allowance and my father made it clear that extra money won’t be available. My father told me to use the money wisely,” she recollects.
That taught Shilpa how to make a budget and avoid overspending. In this way, her parents not only encouraged her to learn how to manage and operate bank accounts, they also taught her how to control her expenses. Shilpa adds: “Through this exercise, I learnt to believe in myself and my capabilities. If I won’t believe in myself, than 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 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 began taking a keen interest in equities. She started by reading books and newspapers on stocks investing. 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 in 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, Centrum Wealth Management
#Mantra: Avoid investing in exotic investment schemes.
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. That’s the biggest 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. But when make investments without understanding the risks that such products come with, you could end up making big losses. Structured products and alternate investment funds are just some glaring examples.
Structured products are meant for the relatively sophisticated investors. Similarly, many peer-to-peer platforms advertise themselves as investment platforms where people can lend and expect to ‘earn high returns’ by way of interest rates that they get to earn. At Moneycontrol, we’ve always advised people to not treat P2P platforms as investment platforms.
Arpita says, “It takes very little time for exotic investment schemes to become crazily toxic. Anything that doubles overnight can harm overnight.”
In the past two years, many people put their money in crypto currencies like bitcoins. Things went off well as long as bitcoin prices went up. But after the crash, when the Indian government came down hard, people realised that bitcoins weren’t quite the investment opportunity they thought it was.
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.
‘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. This ensures that 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 a 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.