April 30, 2020

Can you please not?

P V Subramanyam
Author & Trainer, Subramoney.Com

I cannot build a brand by copying. So true. I cannot create a newsletter by reading Naren or PJ and sound ‘independent’. Sunil Gavaskar did not copy Vijay Merchant, and Sachin did not copy Sunil Gavaskar. More importantly, IFAs talking about the markets is boring. So let me talk to you about some of the phrases that bug clients – and some of you may find it amusing!

  1. ‘Markets will be Volatile’ – JP Morgan said this 200 years ago, and saying this is equivalent to saying ‘there will be waves in the sea’. We know it. Everybody knows it. All times are volatile, and if the markets are not volatile for some time, so be it.
  2. We do “Comprehensive Financial Planning” or “Holistic Financial Planning” – will you please tell me how this is different from ‘financial planning’ that all of YOU are supposed to be doing? Beats me. A checklist makes sense – you should know that you have covered all the angles, but calling it ‘comprehensive’ sounds hilarious.
  3. ‘We will do Asset Allocation’ – it is the job of the adviser to advice on asset allocation. It is the job of the client to DO asset allocation. The client takes the risk of volatility, as well as the risk of not having enough money to meet the goals. Explaining asset allocation is the work of the IFA.
  4. ‘I got you 54% return in Infra funds last year’ – face it, you did not! It was the market which got him such returns. YOU WERE LUCKY enough to have chosen that fund. You could have missed it completely. It was some thinking, some planning, some gut feeling and TONS OF LUCK.
  5. I have created a ‘customized portfolio’ for you. Most portfolios created by an IFA look similar. Most of us develop some favorites and we have the same funds in the portfolios of most of our clients. So if we’re all using the same masala then how can the bhaaji taste that different? Oh, you mean to say that instead of 55% debt, 10% cash and 35% equities for a conservative portfolio your version is 53%, 17%, and 30%?
  6. Independent, Fee-only adviser – the most beaten to death statement. When you say RIA it should mean this. Then the fund house should NOT KNOW THAT YOU EXIST. The minute they know that you exist, they will compensate you. Every IFA isn’t an evil, commission-grubbing, greedy thief! Many of them are my friends, and are well compliant. I’m not trashing the value of independence, but saying that ONLY independent people can give good advice is wrong, and some portals, websites and the MSM are taking it to great heights!
  7. “I have integrity. IFA, you do not have too much of a choice. Who do you think you are? A fund manager? What can you do if you do not have integrity? Not much I guess. Stop saying you have integrity. That is assumed. If you did not have integrity, you may not have survived 20 years I guess.If you are guaranteeing the integrity of an AMC – you are amazingly brave or plain incompetent or foolhardy.
  8. ‘We can invest like….X – fill it up with Warren Buffett, Vallabh Bhansali, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Prashant Jain….what have you. YOU CANNOT- whether it is creating a portfolio of selecting an AMC-created portfolio. Do not tickle the client, he will laugh. If you are really that good and can create value you will NOT NEED to talk about it.

3 Thoughts to “Can you please not?”

  1. sir,I read your ..please can you not? list…after careful reading, I seek “what is that we IFAs can do differently…?”
    As I could, is it doing differently, doing extra…ordinarily… than others,inspiring by your work(other than routine…?),
    You mentioned about GUT feeling…(out of box …you mean..?)….After all,we have flexible approach based on client behaviour, his IQ,EQ and give the best possible….

  2. Avatar Snehal Patwardhan says:

    Sir, please mention what can we do if not using these lines in pitch.. We work ethically, keeping client interest at first place. What other pitch lines can you suggest?

  3. Good article Subba Sir. Very well articulated and so true. There are many IFA who imagine and believe that they are know all and the investor is an idiot, and that they have made money for their clients…High time we got over this myth and realize that the Advisor is only the facilitator and enabler who helps create a perspective and goal for the client and guides him along the journey, handholding him through the ups and downs of market, economy shifts basis his knowledge and experience.
    The investor is not interested in financial jargon. It is how you understand the client needs, his life situations, how you connect mentally and emotionally with his aspirations and concerns that strike the right chord in long term relationship building.

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