Fee-only Advisor Journey: Basu begins a new chapter in the Basunivesh story

Published: July 1, 2018 at 10:14 am

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In this episode of fee-only advisor journey, Basavaraj Tonagatti, who runs the popular blog Basunivesh, describes his growth from insurance and mutual fund advisor to a financial planner to enterprising blogger and now a SEBI registered investment advisor (RIA), fee-only financial planner. He also joins as the 11th RIA in my List of Fee-only Financial Planners in India.

Basu, as he is popularly called, has an earnestness about him that is simply unmistakable. That (IMO) is the driving force behind his success. Given his reach via Basunivesh, he could have easily opted to distribute mutual funds and amassed a neat fortune. Instead, he decided to pursue SEBI RIA with the necessary postgraduation and has now started a fee-only service. Affable by nature, he is also ethical and is keen to keep his services affordable. To work with Basu, contact him via Basunivesh


My journey from 2003 to 2018

When I completed my Diploma in Automobile Engineering and started my Automobile shop in my native, I was desperately looking for secondary income. During that period, the first thought came to my mind was be an LIC Agent. Because I used to visit LIC office with my uncle (who is ZM Club Member continuously since around 20 years) when I was around 15 yrs old. Hence, I was aware of how the LIC Agency works and what are the benefits. 

Later on, when I started my LIC Agency, I used to visit Bangalore for my LIC business purpose. I started to get a good number of clients and that made me move to Bangalore and settle. However, I can’t rely only on LIC Agency income and run my show. Hence, I joined a BPO company.

 During that period, I came across one more revenue source through Mutual Funds advisory business in the year of 2008. Suddenly grabbed the opportunity and started my Mutual Fund Advisory business.

However, I always had the zeal to do something and to prove excel in this finance industry. Hence, slowly reduced my LIC business and concentrated more on Mutual Fund business during the weekends (as I used to work in BPO during weekdays).

When I was searching for some more opportunities, I first time heard about CFP in the year 2010. Without wasting my time, I enrolled for it and successfully completed by the year-end of 2011. This boosted my morale and confidence that YES I CAN DO. I have always a hesitation as neither I belong from any finance background nor I have any degree related to it. Also, I haven’t heard about compounding, IRR, XIRR, Income Tax and Investment Planning. But I always had the zeal to learn and to prove to excel in the finance industry and that’s why I had completed the CFP later on.

However, when I stepped in the finance industry I faced many challenges like not getting a single client who would be ready to pay me a single rupee (as a fee) and that pushed me to think of what alternatively I can do for next. In the meanwhile, I heard from many fellow professionals and financial planners and experts about BLOGGING and started to think about blogging.

Basu with wife, Reshma and daughter Prachi.

Now the question was that neither I was aware of the ABC …of blogging nor there was anyone who would help me out from this. However, I have started my blog www.basunivesh.com in 2011 and after that I faced a lot of challenges and hurdles in issues like non-traffic, no clients and no database and above that, I didn’t have any technical knowledge which could help me to run a blog and for which I often asked help from technical guys. 

It took time to run the things in a proper systematic way and slowly I got the gripping over the situation, my Blog traffic increased and started getting clients for financial planning.

In the meantime, I completely reduced LIC and Mutual Fund business. I concentrated mainly on blogging and financial planning. Because by that time, I quit my BPO job and decided to be in this industry as a full time professional.

Things were going well then came the SEBI RIA regulations in 2013. I desperately looked for registration and even contacted SEBI in this regard. However, even though I have professional experience and CFP tag with me, I was unable to register myself because I was undergraduate and the basic education required to apply for SEBI RIA is Graduation.

Hence, with no other options in mind, I continued my blogging profession. Blogging turned out to be a huge success to me as traffic also increased in such a way that I turned to be full-fledged finance blogger. Along with blogging, I enrolled for graduation course also.

During this period, I came across Pattu, Subra, Ashal and many others. This slowly made me to acquire the knowledge and to write unbiased blog posts with whatever I learnt from my mentors. But my eye was always on SEBI RIA.

I was desperate to complete my graduation and apply for SEBI RIA as I used to get many quarries from blog readers asking me whether I provide financial planning service or not. Finally, I completed the graduation in 2017 end and applied for SEBI RIA.

For me, SEBI RIA registration process extended to around 6+ months and finally I got the approval last week. Hence, without wasting the time, I launched my Fee-Only Financial Planning Service. Special thanks to Swapnil Kendhe and Melvin Joseph in helping me to complete the registration process.

My belief and thoughts about Fee-Only Financial Planning Movement

During this past 15 years of my journey from being a village LIC agent to SEBI RIA Fee-Only Planner, what I noticed is something different. Many of tech-savvy investors or educated may have an option to hire financial planners and correct their mistakes of finance. However, the real need of Fee-Only Financial Planning is for lower cadre people.

They are the one who is the scapegoat for financial frauds or miss-selling. Hence, my concentration is not only on catering to people who can afford my fee but to also who can’t afford the fee. I want to create this Fee-Only Financial Planning as a movement in India by reaching all level of investors.

This way we can reduce many financial frauds and we can educate the uneducated, village people and the lower cadre workers about the importance of Financial Planning.

TRUST is the biggest factor when it comes to money matters. Hence, my first priority is to create that TRUST with my clients. That is the reason; I used to say to my clients that the relationship between my clients and me is like a MARRIAGE. It must last long rather than restricted to my fee.

To my surprise, within a day of launching my Fee-Only Planning Service, I got many clients. But the first client who immediately agreed and turned to be my client was my blog reader who is a farmer by profession and running an NGO in his village (In Osmanabad District of Maharashtra State) by spreading finance related matters. This really boosted my morale.

Also, I am of the opinion that DIY is the final solution when it comes to managing the money. I completely agree that few may not have sufficient time, patience to learn, and manage their money and hence they approach fee-only planners. However, try to look at each individual who approaches you for money matters (whether he may be a banker, Insurance Adviser, Mutual Fund Adviser or ME) with a DOUBT. Never trust anyone BLINDLY (whether it is I or someone else). Create a habit of asking questions (starting from silly). Once you understood the concept and product, and then only jump into the act on financial planning.

Thanks to Pattu, Subra, Ashal and others who made me to learn the basics of money mantras and made me reach to this level.


Do join me in wishing Basu the very best as he embarks on a new journey

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About the Author Pattabiraman editor freefincalM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. since Aug 2006. Connect with him via Twitter or Linkedin Pattabiraman has co-authored two print-books, You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) and Gamechanger and seven other free e-books on various topics of money management. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India” an organisation to promote unbiased, commission-free investment advice. He conducts free money management sessions for corporates and associations on the basis of money management. Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, Cognizant, Madras Atomic Power Station, Honeywell, Tamil Nadu Investors Association. For speaking engagements write to pattu [at] freefincal [dot] com
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