February 15, 2011

I took up FP because I failed bigtime at HDFC & Citi

Sadique Neelgund


I am often asked by my friends, family and associates how did I venture into this new field of financial planning. Unlike many in this profession now, my entry into Financial Planning has been by chance rather than by transition. While undergoing my MBA program in 2003-04, I grabbed a summer project offer from HDFC Bank (Private Banking Desk) at FC Road Branch in Pune. I was selected from the 20 odd people who were interested in this project (or should I say in the name ‘HDFC’).

I was told to learn about mutual funds and since I was a good student, I mugged up the AMFI booklet and also cleared the exams. Then real circus started, as my academics had only thought me how to handle and succeed till here, but no further. The task given to me was ‘find prospects for mutual funds’ and my boss (HDFC RM) did the easiest thing he could do – hand over a directory of industrial firms in Pune! I went through one of the toughest times of my life – knocking door to door in the industrial belt of Pune. I was talking about mutual fund features with everyone I could get hold of, but never really understood its benefits to the investor or relate the product to them.

To my boss’s surprise at the end of two months project, I couldn’t help him get even a single client. ‘Shame on me’ I thought. I was supposed to be a smart chap and that’s why they had selected me among the 20 other aspirants.

There was something wrong – either I was not good enough (which I didn’t want to believe) or there was a different approach to this game of financial advisory. Once back to MBA classes after the summers, I started digging for term ‘financial advisory’ on the internet and discovered the term “financial planning” and “CFP”. “Wow… this is the solution to my woes, why is no one in the bank following this approach, everyone is just busy pushing mutual funds” I said to myself. I was too naive to understand the bigger picture of sales targets, commissions, foreign trips, regulations and all. Financial planning approach seamed more easy and logical to me. By now I was genuinely interested in financial advisory career and pursuing FP looked like a good option.

In the next four months I studied more about FP and fortunately landed up at Citibank for my winter project. HDFC Bank RM had moved to Citi and I guess he either liked my enthusiasm (I had cleared a few more NCFM modules by now) or was betting on his luck. This time the product given was Birla Sunlife’s ULIPs. I never understood the product structure though a big manual was given to mug up. I never understood why only 40-60% was invested in the first year and where the remaining money went. I had to go through the same cycle of prospecting and failures. And I was left with a deeper belief that I can’t sell any financial product. In search of an alternative, by this time I had become a fan of FP and wanted to seriously take it up as a career without knowing the job prospects. I told you I was too naive.

But all this while I had also realized one thing, what these bankers were doing by pushing the products to clients with their great skill sets (amazingly smart chaps) was not the right thing to. This situation had to correct with time and I believed that Financial Planning would be the answer to this. After my studies, I was fortunate to be placed with Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB) India. Well I approached many seeking a career in FP with a letter showing my super enthu, none except FPSB India responded. To my surprise, later I came to know that actually nobody in India was into real financial planning – so I guess it was a right decision joining FPSB India.

I am thankful to HDFC Bank and Citibank for exposing me to the concept of Financial Planning and making me believe in it. I don’t know how many years will FP professionals take to get recognition like CAs, doctors, lawyers, but I am 100% sure it will happen and those of us who will take the first lead will be paid off handsomely both professionally and with a personal sense of satisfaction in helping our clients achieve their goals.

BTW, what’s your story and journey into FP?


Authored by,

Sadique Neelgund

Network FP

11 Thoughts to “I took up FP because I failed bigtime at HDFC & Citi”

  1. Truptesh Shah posted on LinkedIn Groups

    Umh…. Sadique…. mine is a similar story too….I have been with HDFC Standard Life, Citibank, HSBC Bank, Allegro and ASK Wealth Advisors. Having worked with these names I have realised that these organisation see financial planning through the sales spectacle. Sometimes I get thoughts that these organisations are bringing a disgrace to the Financial Planning Profession. One classic example is the recent case reported at Citibank.

    But now I am very happy to have set up my independent financial planning practice operating out of Hyderabad.

    Truptesh Shah
    Certified Financial Planner
    Deontic Advisors LLP

    • Truptesh thanks for sharing your story. I am sure there are many out there who are trpped in the corporate life. They genuinely want to be indepdent and client-centric financial advisors, but just cant forgo the corporate life for family and social pressures.

  2. Suhas Lele posted on LinkedIn Groups

    yes I fully agree with both of you as all big institutions are selling the products under the name of financial planning.No body is giving unbiased service and advice.Under the present circumstances the role of a Financial Planner is of great importance,so have faith in our profession

  3. Prabhu Chinnasamy posted on LinkedIn Groups;

    In my case,reason for practising financial advisory service on my own is same as mentioned by Mr.Truptesh, but after working 1.5 years in a NBFC(vehicle finance), i chose to work on my own and not joined any co & involved in MF advisory for last 2 yrs. Now, i have completed CFP exams.. & still i don’t have any plan to join company bcaz of salespitch issue, which affects clients negatively.
    When things are like this, few seniors suggesting me to join some fin service co to gain more experience & also good package.
    But, i don’t wants to join any co..
    May i have your views regarding this….

    • Hello Prabhu

      Being an independent financial planner requires a lot of maturity, knowledge and skills. Whatever said and done I do believe that a corporate career brings in a lot of skills in you due targets and grooming and a polished peer group.

      If you are not able to kick start your practice as a FP and have a good opportunity from a good compaany do take it up. But have a definite plan of coming back after 3-5 years

  4. Sunil Shahani posted on LinkedIn Groups;

    Hi Sadique, Interesting story. I share your belief.

  5. Sukhvinder Sidhu commented on Linkedin;

    “Not a matter of salary, not a matter of career….
    No compromise now, its a matter of Life and freedom!”

    It must be the story of some people who have been compromising for many years, but saw their love in the new ethical and knowledge based field of FP. I have also planned to venture into FP field after about 6 months, having served in Public Sector for 19.5 years…
    and see you pioneers as very encouraging!

    @Sadique… i had researched and written an article on LLP in 2009 (when LLP Act was passed) which got published in FP Journal in its March 2010 issue. May be helpful for more clarity.

  6. Maithili says:

    It was somewhere in my blood line!!! As a small kid, i grew up watching my grandfather and father advising people how to handle marriage expenses, how to manage business loan payments, etc. Though they were simple brokers, a spark of advising made them different.

    After completing my masters, I joined Strategic Global Partners, a wealth management support backbone for US wealth management firms. Soon i headed the financial planning department and i actually started conversing with Financial Planners based in US. I could see how wonderful they planned and i could see how moderate earning couples lived retirement life KING SIZE. Vacations, new home, gifting etc was all possible for them just by sound advices provided by these Financial Planners. Well these planners were grounded and had a damn market experience of more than 30 years.

    Thats where i realized what India was missing. I had to take my CFP certification and i had to keep my blood line career active.

    I got my CFP certification and HERE I AM — digging the market, studying indian investor’s behaviour and trying to grow my grey cells . Somewhere down the line, I want to have people smiling at me and truely speaking – “Thank you for your advice !!”

  7. Maithili says:

    Soon.. Looking for a right association.. I’ll keep you all posted on my advances 🙂

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