This week on fee-only advisor journey, Chandan Singh Padiyar describes his transition to a SEBI registered investment advisor and how he found fulfillment and inner peace in the process. Chandan is a familiar name and face on FB group, Asan Ideas for Wealth (AIFW). With his pleasant disposition and diplomacy (meaning my exact opposite!), he is popular among members.
Many AIFW members have worked with him and are also quick to refer him to others seeking professional help. If you wish to work with Chandan for your financial plan, you can get in touch via his website: padiyars. Chandan is part of my list of fee-only advisors and also Fee-only India an association of fee-only advisors. Now over to Chandan.
I come from a lower middle-class background. My father used to earn nominal income which was just enough for our family. He used to cycle 20 kms every day to his work. We never had any savings and our life was very simple. I cannot forget those days when I was once denied entry for playing cricket because I was unable to provide a contribution to the cricket ball. I also remember the days when I would walk 2-3 Kms every day to save 10 Paise and enjoy vada pav after 5 days.
My parents were open-minded and always supported me. I started working as soon as I completed my 12th exam. I took admission in an evening college for graduation so that I could work during the day and attend college in the evening. By the time I finished my Graduation in Commerce, I was already working in Accounts department. I was fascinated by the CA profession and wanted to go for it. However, I was unable to do that since it meant doing articleship for 3 years with a nominal stipend. Later on, I also completed my Masters in Commerce.
With time I grew in my job, reached a good post and a decent salary. Since I had always seen my father struggle with money, I focused on savings right from the start of my working life. I started with recurring deposits. I would convert the accumulated amount in RD into FD every year. Slowly compounding started working for me. I bought my first equity share in 1997 (I am still holding this share) and started investing in Mutual Funds in 1999. I got married in 2002. I purchased my house in 2004 and car in 2007.
I wanted to learn more about money, how it works, how it can be multiplied and the ways to speed up its growth. So I began exploring various insurance plans, FD schemes other than the ones provided by banks, chit funds (bissie), MLM plans, real estate, money lending business, equity trading and equity investing. I have experienced almost everything by taking calculated risks and learnt about the risks involved in every option.
In Feb-2010, in my quest for Self Discovery, I happened to attend a 10 day Vipassana course. (Vipassana means “to see things as they really are”. It is a logical process of mental purification through self-observation. It is a simple and practical way to achieve real peace of mind and to lead a happy and useful life.) After attending the course I was a different person altogether. It changed my thought process. I began practicing whatever I had learnt in the course regularly. I now wanted to live life on happily without stress as much as possible. I also wanted to have more time for myself. And therefore I started thinking about financial freedom and slowly the thought of financial freedom became very strong in my mind.
I began talking about it with my seniors, colleagues and friends but I could not get any satisfactory answer. I also met few senior LIC agents, relationship managers working in banks and with financial services providers but it was not fruitful. So I started searching on the internet. I discovered various personal finance blogs like freefincal, subramoney, jagoinvestor, basunivesh and relakhs etc. and read many good articles about personal finance. I learned about the emergency fund, accumulation and distribution phase of retirement, asset allocation, rebalancing and most importantly about Financial Planning.
I wanted to get my own financial planning done and therefore I started searching for a financial planner. I found one in the directory listed on FPSB India website and I got my financial planning done from him. I liked the process and the detailed working involved in financial planning. I felt that financial planning is a noble and ethical profession. People search for you, pay your fees, discuss their concerns with you and get solutions from you. I also felt that I would enjoy working as a financial planner. This was the first seed sowed in my mind to get into this profession. One more important thing was that if I get into this profession, I may not need to wait for my financial freedom to do something I love.
So I visited FPSB website once again and collected all the information about the certification and process to become a Certified Financial Planner. However, doubts about whether I will be able to pull it off as a financial planner and possibility of failure started troubling me. Every day I would think about it but could not take a decision.
One day I discussed the matter with my spouse ‘Sarita’. She straight away rejected the idea of leaving job and getting into a profession. She said “you are not suitable for doing anything of your own because you are too honest, too sensitive and cannot ask anyone to pay you money ”
The discussion ended there itself and the idea was dropped. But I kept contemplating over it and one day it clicked in me that these might be the very qualities required to become successful as a financial planner. However, it took a lot of time to get Sarita’s support but finally, she agreed and I quit my Job in Oct-2012.
I completed my CFP but had no idea what to do next, how to start and how to reach prospects. I decided to connect with senior financial planners to learn about it, but the fees quoted for providing the know-how was very high as per my understanding. By the time SEBI had also come up with Investment Advisor regulation and it was illegal to carry on financial planning profession without registering with SEBI.
I decided to carry on as an MFD for some time until I get more clarity about the regulation. But I kept learning more about financial planning. Even though I had ARN, I always suggested direct plans of mutual funds to investors. I also started providing tax planning and ITR filing services. I got few accounting and finance projection assignments from small companies. I also used to conduct financial planning awareness sessions within my friend circle.
One fine day I landed on the facebook group Asan Ideas For Wealth (AIFW). AIFW was very interactive. Many questions concerning Personal Finance were asked and answered every day on AIFW. For the first few days I was just a spectator, but slowly I started answering some of the questions I was confident about. As time passed my participation in AIFW discussions increased. Through AIFW I also got in touch with fee-only financial planners Melvin Joseph and Piyush Khatri learned the truth about the Investment Advisor Regulation and applied for it.
After getting the SEBI RIA registration I started working as a fee-only financial planner. I also got included in Pattu’s list of Fee-only planners maintained on freefincal.com. It was a dream come true for me. I had just received my SEBI RIA Licence when I attended the first meet of Fee only India in Sept 2017.
Life has been very interesting since then. Everyday I get to help people in setting their financial house in order. I get to talk with new people every day. I try to help them in the best possible way I can. I try to answer all the queries I get on facebook messenger and whatsapp. My clients are also increasing each passing day. It is really a fulfilling work at every level. I consider myself lucky since finally, I have got what I wanted in my life. Life couldn’t be better than this. Every day I get up without any stress, there is no hurry to reach anywhere and the whole day is spent doing what I love doing. What more can one ask from life?
I believe in keeping things simple. I follow the same basic principles of personal finance that I have learned over the years and guide my clients to follow the same. I always insist my clients to focus on the right process rather than searching for extraordinary products or highest returns. It gives an elated feeling when the actual work is being recognised in real life scenarios and to know that I am able to make positive changes in people’s lives.
A couple of my clients have featured in the ‘my plan’ section of ‘mint’ where they have shared their experiences. ‘I no longer have to worry about money constantly’ and If fee is fixed, I won’t think about ‘hiding’ my investments from the planner.
Learning never stops in Personal Finance and there is something new to learn every day. Here are some of my important learnings of personal finance.
- Financial planning is an ongoing process and not a one time
- Reviewing our financial life at least once a year is a must.
- Investments are just a small part of overall financial planning
- Understanding and managing risk is more important than focusing on return.
- The same instrument could carry a different risk for different people
- Past performance in equity could be misleading.
- Tax saving is not compulsory.
- There are higher chances of committing mistakes when investments are done with the sole motive of tax saving or earning higher
- Returns are totally dependent on the MA financial planner cannot maximize returns for an Investor.
If you wish to work with Chandan for your financial plan, you can get in touch via his website: padiyars.