Here is why you can safely consult a fee-only advisor living in another city

For the last four years, freefincal and AIFW has helped connect hundreds of investors with financial advisors who do not receive any commissions – a matter of pride and achievement for me. Such financial advisors, are known as fee-only advisors and need to be registered with SEBI as Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs). When you work with these advisors, you are sure that they work only for you as they do not recommend any commission-based products. In this post, I showcase some feedback from investors who have worked with Melvin Joseph, one of the first RIAs in the country. This will help readers understand the financial planning process and appreciate the fact that your fee-only advisor need not reside in the same city as you do.

Please recognise the difference between fee-based planning or fee-based advisor and fee-only advisor. A fee-based advisor receives commissions from mutual funds and insurance products + charges you a fee and some even get a percentage of the AUM for “managing it”. A fee-only advisor only receives a fee from you. This can be a flat fee or a percentage of the AUM. It is common sense that one should prefer only a flat fee-only advisor.

This is my List of Fee-only Financial Planners in India.  “Fee-only India” (FOI) is an organisation of such fee-only planners/advisors to support each other, share knowledge and also help newcomers who wish to become fee-only RIAs. If you have the competence and the passion to provide conflict of interest-free advice, contact a FOI member today! The FOI community is gradually growing. Recognise how investment regulation has rapidly evolved in the last few years. This is the future. Please note that neither Ashal nor me get any kind of compensation for promoting the services of fee-only advisors.

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Standing from L to R: Chandan Singh Padiyar (Pune): Padiyars.com Piyush Khatri (Hyderabad): Sahastha.com Sukhvinder Sidhu (Karnal, near NCR): Finlifecare.com, Swapnil Kendhe (Nagpur): vivektaru  Vikram Krishnamoorthy (Coimbatore): InsightfulSitting from L to R: Shilpa Wagh (Mumbai): Waghfinancials, Pattu (yours truly), Ashal: AIFW FB page Melvin Joseph (Mumbai): finvin

The RIAs from my list are from Mumbai (two), Pune (one), Nagpur (one), Hyderabad (one), Coimbatore (one), NCR region (two), Bangalore (one). I had asked members of FOI for feedback from clients who work with outstation fee-only advisors. Here is a selection of such feedback from a few of Melvin Josephs clients.

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Prasanth, Bangalore

I was a very passive investor till 5-6 years back and most of my savings went to fixed deposits or recurring deposits. We started mutual fund investment through an online platform which assigned a financial advisor to me. We felt that the plans they suggested were very fragmented and our mutual fund portfolio had 20 distinct plans in 3 years investing through them.

I came across Asan ideas of wealth Facebook community and was very impressed with the comments provided by members in the community and also came across freefincal website from where I got your details and a write-up on what fee based financial advisors can offer. Feedback for your service was very positive in the Facebook community and the fees was not prohibitively expensive. So we thought that we will give it a try instead of going further with a direction less mutual fund investments.

Overall experience was very smooth where we had an initial phone discussion to understand about the service and what can be expected and overall vision. We went ahead and made the payment and a data sheet was provided to us to gather the current financial assets and short term and long term goals. Melvin got back to us within a few days after that with recommendations and we had a phone chat after that to clarify the doubts. We are currently following his recommendations and realign based on the yearly review. Melvin is very responsive for any queries that we had in the interim and also provide proactive recommendations on changing financial situations or budgets. We are very happy with the overall service and suggested the same for our siblings also.

Mayank, Utter Pradesh

My experience is satisfactory. There is no issue. Planning can be done effectively if the disclosure of the customer about their investment is correct and the customer future requirements (goals) are clear to the planner. The one thing is very important is the confidence on each other. To build up the confidence one should believe on fin planner and start investing as per suggestion on regular basis. There must be a monitoring at the customer level to verify the gain time to time to validate the advisor suggestion to stay in the investment or to change the strategy. I am satisfied with my advisor and getting the result as per my expectations.

Daljit, Hyderabad

Melvin has been assisting me with my financial planning for the last 6 years now, he has customized my financial portfolio basis my needs and has educated me about the available products and their benefits.  It is important to note that while I am not located in Mumbai, this has never been a hindrance in our interaction.  I understand that some people may have apprehensions to conduct financial planning digitally, but it is important to understand that what actually matters is the advice given to you and not that you have the ability to physically meet the financial planners.  Further, the world is becoming increasingly globalized and digital and one needs to acknowledge this change and embrace it.

Unlike other financial planners who though I can physically meet end up advising me products to suit their monthly targets, incentives and commission, I prefer to interact with Melvin digitally (Phone, emails, Whatsapp) and avail financial advise free of any biases or prejudice. I would recommend everyone to start planning their financials and make well-educated choices of opting for the services of a sound financial planner, meet them physically or not should be secondary

Paul, Jammu Kashmir

It was a couple of years back, I was done and dusted with my financial planning on my own as a ‘ DIY’ stuff, duly burning my fingers in the process really bad that I’d seriously started looking for some professional to this for me.  An extended search online came up with Melvin Joseph along with another couple guys of his ilk.  However, a short conversation with all that I’d had with all left me in no doubt that this is the guy who I would trust to do my financial planning with, maybe his no-nonsense and frank ways did help.

Ever since then it’s been an annual ritual, to have Melvin go through my financial state/ plan and investment plans in detail, make necessary corrections and put me in the right path. In addition to this annual review, Melvin has been always there only as far away as a mail/message to get clarifications /advice on all financial planning stuff.   Even though I would’ve spoken only with him just once in the last four years or so, let alone meet him, I’ve always known that he’d be there to guide me, to understand my concerns, to provide me with valuable advice and to suggest actions.  Never felt the need for an ‘ in person’ financial adviser after I’d come in contact with Melvin and I would merrily recommend the same route to anyone.

Pradeep, Bangalore

I have had a happy association with Melvin for the past 1.5 years. He started with asking the right questions and helped me move my existing profile from regular to direct funds.  He listens to you and creates the plan in accordance to what your meeting the client’s wishes are. I have never felt the need to visit face to face for such a dealing. I have got used to work on this via calls and email and it feels normal now. Besides, Melvin is also available on mail or WhatsApp to his clients and is open to answer any questions we have immediately which one may not get even if you have a place in your own city. I would recommend Melvin as an impartial financial advisor and can vouch that he will be available and will listen to the needs of the clients fully.

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Now that you have read the feedback, if you need help with any aspect of money management or if you need a validation of your plans (if you are a DIY), go ahead and consult any of these SEBI registered fee-only financial plannersThey need not reside in the same city as you do.

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Map source: https://mapchart.net/india.html

If you have worked with any of these fee-only advisors and would like to share your feedback, please do so in the comments section.

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