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Nisreen Mamaji on drilling the idea of financial independence into women’s heads

Young women are more open to financial advice. They seek out qualified financial planners and build a relationship

December 22, 2020 / 03:02 PM IST

Note to readers: When it comes to money management, women have skilfully manoeuvred finances – of their families and those of investors on a larger scale. But the number of such women professional managers remains low, though. Of all registered investment advisors with SEBI (securities and exchange board of India), just about 10 percent are women. In this special five-part series, Moneycontrol personal finance profiles five women who are not only in control of their own personal finances but also guide several other women and families in managing their wealth.

Yesterday, we profiled Renu Maheshwari, CEO and Principal Advisor, FinScholarz Wealth Managers LLP. Today, meet Mumbai-based Nisreen Mamaji, certified financial planner and Founder MoneyWorks FS.

Nisreen Mamaji loves money conversations with her clients. But she is also a patient listener, a trait which she says has helped her greatly in connecting with her clients. She has around 300 clients, of whom 50 per cent are women. MoneyWorks Financial Services, where she is the chief planner, is a financial distribution firm that earns commission income on the products sold. She has not applied for a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) license.

Sustainable clientele for commission income

Besides capping fees over the years, the capital market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) also came out with RIA regulations. Financial advisors registered as RIAs can only give advice, for which they must charge a fee. MoneyWorks Financial Services plans to follow the commission-based model for now, which means firms such as MoneyWorks Financial Services must constantly expand their customer base to be able to retain the commission income they’ve been earning so far. For the distribution industry, penetration is important.

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But that doesn’t bother Nisreen much.

She works with a team of five people who dedicate most of their time on product research platforms as well as on customer support and operations. Fortunately MoneyWorks FS had shifted most of her clients to online investing much before the pandemic. It also does online on-boarding the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) formalities are completely digital.

From selling insurance to wealth creation

Nisreen started her career in the financial sector as an insurance adviser. After selling traditional insurance plans, the need for a wider portfolio in an investor’s moneybox that could beat inflation made her diversify into mutual funds. Her understanding of personal wealth creation, she remembers, came through her own investments. Her father had invested in stocks and funds on her behalf and the compounded returns from those investments helped her to later invest in a property.

“This gave me a strong conviction about the possibility of wealth creation by investing in a basket of instruments capable of beating inflation,” she says. Nisreen started selling mutual funds in 2002 and set up her own firm in 2005. At that time, the asset management companies were also investing aggressively in training independent distributors. As part of DSP mutual fund’s Winvestor program, she has been conducting workshops in corporate firms addressing their women employees on the need to be financially independent.

Aditi Kothari Desai, director, and head-sales & marketing at DSP Mutual Fund has led this program that connects women in corporate India with women financial advisors and planners through a series of investment education workshops. Nisreen is on the panel of Winvisor program; a platform that also gave her a wider women audience. “Over the years, we have drilled this into women employees’ minds that it’s so important to be financially independent. They must not depend on the male members of their families,” she says.

Rising financial awareness among younger women

What are her main observations? Nisreen says that over the years, women have become more financially aware. Young women, she goes on to explain, are more open to financial advice. They seek out qualified financial planners, build a relationship and follow their financial advice. “A couple of young women clients of mine even brought in their mothers to my office for financial consulting,” she says. Older women aren’t as invested in their financial independence as they ought to. “I’ve often observed that older women spend their income on their families and keep very little or nothing aside for their own investment plans. This makes them very dependent on joint family finances, which unfortunately could get out of reach overnight should their marriage go sour,” says Nisreen. This vulnerability should certainly be avoided and reduced.

Being a women herself makes it easier, she claims, to sensitise her women clients. “We can intuitively figure out from the first few discussions about the issues that they may not share openly with us readily” says Nisreen Mamaji. These qualities, she feels makes a women adviser best for the financial advisory profession.

Also read: Money management: Where are the women financial advisers?

Nisreen says that her extroverted nature helps her to connect with people. When her two children (a son, 26, and a daughter who is 22) were in school, Nisreen was actively involved with their schooling and was a part of the parent-teacher association. Nisreen is also an active office bearer in her housing society. “Being involved with people’s lives like this also brings me in touch with those who need genuine financial guidance,” she adds.
Rachna Monga Koppikar is a financial coach for women
first published: Dec 15, 2020 12:03 pm

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