Interview with Ashal Jauhari: Relentless Financial Awareness Activist

Published: January 23, 2013 at 7:23 pm

Jago Investor authored by Manish Chauhan is one blog known to most Indians who use the internet. Even those who are chronic procrastinators with respect to their financial life know about it. My own ongoing journey of financial awareness started with Jagoinvestor. A few years ago Manish started the JagoInvestor Forum, a place where investors can help each other by answering questions. Today the forum is frequented by not just investors but by finance bloggers, mutual fund distributors, insurance representatives, pros from financial services and even CIBIL personnel!

Sometime back an intriguing question caught my eye: ‘Where is Ashal Jauhari?’ The question, obviously unrelated to personal finance, referred to the whereabouts of the man who answers the most questions on the forum: Ashal Juahari. Ashal answers almost all questions on the forum (including mine), be it on mutual funds, insurance, loans, banking .. well just about anything. In fact one would think the only questions he has not answered so far are ones that have not been asked! The question about his whereabouts was asked because users had missed Ashal for a couple of weeks while he out of town! This question made me want to interview the man. If you have not heard of him it can only  mean you have not heard of the Jagoinvestor forum. There are many regulars like Ramesh, Zionview and a few others who help investors in the forum (l am sure I have inadvertently left out a few. Will be happy to add them if you let me know) but Ashal’s contribution is a standout. You need to flip through the forum pages to understand the enormity of his work.

Let hear about Ashal from Manish himself:
Ashal is an amazing guy … He is helps each investor like he is a personal mentor to each and tries to do deeper and deeper with the problems people face and makes sure investors are satisfied. He operates from the mindset of “serving” and “giving” people and thats what makes him way above many others . Over the last 1-2 yrs , he has single handedly handled jagoinvestor forum and has created a brand of his own, which he deserves surely 🙂 ..

He has amazing knowledge on some of the things like Income tax filing related things, and SBI max gains . One of the threads on SBI Max gain has crossed close to 500 answers and it can be now used by SBI itself to educate its customers about SBI max gain. The amount of knowledge is at that level there.

Ashal is the face of our forum and he is truely amazing person 🙂 . I am glad to be connected with people like Ashal ..

ashal
Now lets hear it from Ashal:

1. You must now have answered about or more than 1000 questions on JI forum helping hundreds of investors. Your interest in personal finance seems to border on obsession! Why do it? Don’t you get tired?

I do not know the exact count of questions I answered on JI Forum but as per an info from Dear Manish (owner of forum) & this is based on some data till July-Aug 2012, I had answered around 30% of the total answered given in the forum. Yes you may tell or call it somewhat near to obsession but for me I’m doing it out of my passion only. As it’s my passion so I enjoy it & never ever get tired of answering. In fact more questions challenge me more to answer.
2. Which is the most interesting question you have come across on the forum?

It’s hard to recall any question which was interesting or say unique. Most of the time, the questions are very generic in nature, hence no particular choice of a single question.

3. Share with us insights on investor psychology you have gained by answering questions.

In this age of INFO, investors are overflooded with info & that’s creating too much confusion to decide which way one should go. Most of the time, new age investors ask for products, after getting satisfactory answers, do agree to take actions but there is vast difference between asking for help & actually taking action on that help from these investors.
4. Can answering questions get frustrating sometimes?

Yes, sometimes it’s frustrating that everybody wants to be spoon-fed. Nobody wants to search a bit for prev. posts in the forum itself. If an investor or answer seeker, invest just an hour of his/her time to search & read from prev. posts on forum, most of the time, the answer ‘ll be there but people go for the easy way. Ask a new question & get immediate answers. That’s it.
5. How do you find the time to do this on such a regular basis?

By profession I’m a chem. engr. & my job involves working in shift duty. so managing time is a bit easy for me than normal 9-5 office time public. Also as I stated above already, It’s my passion, so I never feel short of time for my passion.
6. Tell us something about your financial life. When did you start getting interested in personal finance. Mistakes you have made in investing (if any!). How often you manage your finances and your general investing philosophy

My own financial life started with my first job & the typical Indian mistakes of traditional insurance policies of LIC. Yes I do have a reading habit for financial news since my education days & incidentally somewhere around Oct or Nov 1999, I got the chance to read Intelligent Investors (all of us now know it as Outlook Money). that one magazine, shaped my way of thinking towards my own finance. I became the subscriber of Interl. Inv. from that day itself & still subscribing. In 2005, I purchased my PC & started net surfing & incidentally landed onto message board of www.moneycontrol.com. After reading some queries, I felt that I can answer some & started answering there. During my interactions at there in MMB, I also learnt a lot regarding personal finance, That’s how my journey towards answering for personal finance started. in 2008 or 2009 somewhere, one of the person gave me the link to www.jagoinvestor.com & rest is history as you know.

Off late I’m not managing my finance on day to day basis. Taking help of technology like Fundsindia, Icicidirect to invest, Perfios & Moneycontrol to track.
7. An interesting incidents or stories associated with answering questions on this forum?

During MMB days, one person posted a detailed info for his personal finance & later on in MB itself, the discussion went on like making his personal finance plan. After that the person become my friend & invited me to visit him in Delhi. Yes I visited several times there after to his home in Delhi, during my travels to my home town in U.P. Till date we are friends & question of asking money between us never arose & he is quite senior in age than me but still call me Guruji.

Well in April 2012, I went to my home town in U.P. from Ahmedababd, Gujarat, my work place for a 15 day family vacation. I totally cut off myself from forum & mails etc. for those 15 days. When I returned back & joined the forum, 1 question was asked in the forum, “Where is Ashal jauhari?”. I was speechless for a while to know that how much people love & care me. No matter none of these people have ever met me or ‘ll met me in future in person.
The love & affection I’m getting from the people is my main motivation for my passion.
8. What advice would you give to a 22 or 23 year old who has started his/her career.

Out of your salary, only withdraw 25% for each month & do nothing for remaining 75%. do this for next 9 months & try to live within your means from that 25%. If the person can pass this test, S/he ‘ll become a successful investor & can create a good wealth over the period. all the financial Gyaan can be given later on. This 9 months’ test ‘ll check the discipline of the person & ‘ll decide the future there itself.
9. Have you ever wondered that answering so many questions might do more harm than good? In the sense that one promotes ‘free-lunch’ mentality and not financial literacy? Some questions in the forum represent genuine difficulties and deserve help. But there are some questions which ought to be put to professionals. Not because you or anyone cant answer competently but because the nature of the question involves time and effort on the part of the answer provider and hence is a little unfair (your obsessive interest notwithstanding!)

Free lunch seeker ‘ll always there, no doubt about that. but my own experience tells me that after spending so much time with people, genuine people are opening up to pay for a quality fee. There is more to it. In this age of social media & excessive internet usage, we can not restrict the flow of knowledge. Also, when we are discussing the matter online, it takes time to win the confidence of the person on the other side of the net to be ready to pay for genuine fee.So it’s advisable to keep the people with us even if a majority of them are asking for FREE LUNCHES. Till date whatever little no. of paid clients I do have, it’s from the crowd of these free lunch seekers.
10. Which brings me to ask: have you ever considered providing services? People trust your view and will be happy to pay a fee for your services

I’m already providing paid services to a chosen few. I’m not running behind clients to add more & more paid ones. For my day to day bread & butter, I do have a stable job. So my passion is now creating a side income for me & who knows it may become main income source later on.

If you wish to connect with Ashal you could do so by accessing his profile on the JI forum.

Ashal, thank you very for much for enriching our lives. We will do our best to research answers on our own to lighten your burden.

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