Fee-only India: launch of a movement to serve investors and advisors

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Yesterday (Sep 24th) saw the birth of  Fee-only India, a coming-together of SEBI registered fee-only financial planners at Mumbai. Ashal Juahari, admin of Facebook group Asan Ideas of wealth and I spent the day listening to and discussing with the fee-only financial planners from my list.

An organisation of financial planners who do not sell any products (get no commissions) and work for and with the clients they serve is an idea proposed by Piyush Khatrri. After discussions, fee-only India,  was identified as a catchy and representative name for the organisation.

The participants & founding members


Standing from L to R:

Chandan Singh Padiyar (Pune): Padiyars.com

Piyush Khatri (Hyderabad): Sahastha.com

Sukhvinder Sidhu (Karnal, near NCR): Finlifecare.com. You can check out his guest post: Illustration: Financial Plan Creation for Rajeev Goswami

Swapnil Kendhe (Nagpur): vivektaru AIFW members will know him 🙂

Vikram Krishnamoorthy (Coimbatore): Insightful

Sitting from L to R:

Shilpa Wagh (Mumbai): Waghfinancials

Pattu (yours truly for those who don’t know)

Ashal: AIFW Blog and AIFW FB page

Melvin Joseph (Mumbai): finvin He is one of the first fee-only financial planners and one of the most successful. Check out his guest posts:

How to become a Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) in India

Investment Options for Non-resident Indians (NRIs).

Nuggets from the discussion

Firstly, I am pleasantly surprised and if you don’t mind, quite proud that the freefincal fee-only list has led to many clients for the planners. The credit for this goes to Google. It sends in about 1000 people per month to that page alone. Even queries like “best financial advisor in India” show this page right at the top.

Secondly, despite many problems and struggles these planners are quite clear that they will not sell any product, get no commission and provide a professional service. They are at different stages of evolution: about to start, just started, about to break even, realised small gains, considerable gains etc.

Thirdly, the meet exceeded my expectations. I was so glad I attended because if I, who has no desire to become a fee-only planner found the talks inspiring, I can imagine the impact it would have had on the planners. We strongly believe other financial service professionals tired of selling products and their souls along with it, will be inspired by fee-only India and work towards fee-only advisory  after Sebi registered as an “individual” investment adviser (no jugaad where relatives sell products and the commission stay in the family and many do – investors beware).

Melvin Joseph discussed his journey from a cushy PSU job to a sought-after fee-only planner. His meticulous record keeping and how he wields it to generate good word-of-mouth referral systematically is commendable and inspiring.

Sukvinder Sidhu talked about how he approaches clients and get them comfortable and aware of their finances and only them initiates talk of goal-based investing.

Shilpa Wagh explained the expenses associated with running the financial planning service as a profession and the challenges from preventing it slipping into a business. Her clarity of thought was noteworthy.

Vikram discussed his approach to handling clients, methodology and pointed out that many DIYers also consult fee-only planners for a validation of their money management strategy.

Piyush described his ongoing effort to create a unified tool (data gathering, risk profiling, plan creation, investment analysis and report generation) for planners to work with and increase productivity. Also, his vision for fee-only India and how it should be run was discussed.

I spoke about my experience with freefincal and simple ways by which one can systematically market our competence in a fast-paced world. Now have enough material to make a short handbook out of it.

I could not listen to Swapnil (“beginners expectations”), Chandan Singh Padiyar (“planner-client gap”) and Ashal (“what clients want”) as I had to leave early.

Fee-only India: Vision & Objective

Enhanced visibility of fee-only planners making it easy for clients to learn more about them at one place and contact them.

A resource for new and old fee-only planners to build a client base, increase productivity and as a source of continuing education.

Be the first advisor body to actively involve investors as patrons/trustees/guardians of other investors. The patrons should not only promote fee-only planning as the most logical investment (as Vikram put it) a person can make when it comes to money management but also ensure that the members of fee-only India remain purely fee-only. Any evidence of product selling would result in elimination.

You can consult any of the planners mentioned above for guidance:

If you are sitting on the fence about registering with SEBI and starting a fee-only practice,

If you a DIY money manager looking for a professional opinion on your investments or if you want help, you can consult

Support these purely fee-only planners by engaging them or suggesting them to your friends and relatives. May their tribe grow.

NOTE: Neither Ashal nor I receive any kind of compensation for promoting fee-only financial planning.


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About the Author M Pattabiraman author of freefincal.comM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the author and owner of freefincal.com.  He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras since Aug 2006. Pattu” as he is popularly known, 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. Pattu publishes unbiased, promotion-free research, analysis and holistic money management advice. Freefincal serves more than one million readers a year (2.5 million page views) with numbers based analysis on topical issues and has more than a 100 free calculators on different aspects of insurance and investment analysis. He conducts free money management sessions for corporates  and associations(see details below). Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, TamilNadu Investors Association etc. Contact information: freefincal {at} Gmail {dot} com (sponsored posts or paid collaborations will not be entertained)
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  1. Dear Pattu,
    It’s indeed heartening to note the efforts to bring together all the Fee-only Financial Planners on a common platform. It will not only safeguard the gullible investors from making blunders with their investments but also a win-win for both the investors and the planners.
    Kudos to you, Ashal and all the seven planners…..


  3. Is it a good thing or a bad thing that I do not see a single grey-haired or balding person in the financial advisory / planning business?

  4. It is a great idea to bring together the fee-only FPs under a formal or informal umbrella. I have have benefited by engaging the services of one of the planners in your list and have recommended him to few of my acquaintances as well. If the forum further progresses where the FPs can share the resources by creating tools, that would help not only them but the investor community,who use their services as that would bring some standardization in approach too. I wish all the best for this initiative.

  5. It’s a good initiative to bring fee-only FPs under one roof. Would it possible to come up with a post describing as to what factor/points one should consider while hiring a fee only planner? There are many fee only FP and people might be finding it difficult to choose one. Even after hiring one, many times doubt arises whether it was a good decision, once we refer to his/her advise and what we have learnt over a period of time (this happened with me when the advise was going southward from what I’ve learnt, but still I am following advise).

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