Here is a list of SEBI registered fee-only financial planners in India. A fee-only planner is someone who charges a fee for financial plan creation and advisory and does not receive any kind of commissions/incentives from mutual fund houses, insurers or other financial product sellers. Financial advice is provided and clients are expected to take necessary action on their own.
Scroll down to the bottom of the post to access the list.
A fee-based planner receives a fee for financial advisory and also receives commissions from fund houses and/insurers etc. for the products he/she recommends. The investment is done through the planner. Typically, clients would be ‘gently’ dissuaded from investing on their own often with flimsy excuses. As with anything in life there are exceptions to this typical behaviour. Unfortunately, exceptions do not make good examples.
As per SEBI Advisor regulations An investment adviser shall not receive any consideration by way of remuneration or compensation or in any other form from any person other than the client being advised, in respect of the underlying products or securities for which advice is provided.
Therefore, financial planners should not receive commissions by distributing mutual funds and any investment or insurance products they recommend to clients. That is, it is illegal to practice fee-based advisory.
The idea is to avoid the conflict of interest that inevitably tags along with commission-based product recommendation.
Unfortunately, many fee-based financial planners have chosen to ignore this regulation. Some have shifted their distribution business in the name of a family member.
This problem was discussed in detail in my previous post: What You Need To Know Before Hiring a Financial Advisor
In that post I had urged readers to choose fee-only planners over fee-based planners and mentioned that, I maintain a list of fee-only planners that I would share on request.
I did not post the list of fee-only planners in that article because I wanted to check for myself if there is a demand for clean paid-advisory. I figured, if there is a demand, it would encourage more such requests.
There is clearly a demand! I have sent that list to over 50 people and still continue to receive requests. Please look at the comments in that article to understand what I referring to.
The message is clear: The number of people who seek paid-advisory may be small but among that small number, people who seek paid-advisory free from conflict of interest is a majority!
If I, with my insignificant blog can generate a non-zero interest in fee-only planning. Imagine what would happen if this is advertised on a wider scale? Of course, that is unlikely to happen for obvious reasons!
No matter. I am a fan of fee-only financial planners. I think it takes guts and confidence to choose a different path and say ‘no’ to product distribution.
Before I present the list, I request you to consider the following points presented in the form of an FAQ.
1. Are you saying fee-only planners are the only ‘clean’ planners in financial services?
NO. I am saying that that obvious conflicts of interest associated with commission based advisory are absent in fee-only advisory. Therefore, it is relatively cleaner.
Yes, yes, there are fee-based planners genuinely interested in their clients welfare etc. The trouble is with finding one!
2. I am already engaging the services of a fee-based planner. Should I shift to a fee-only planner?
NO. You might want to shift to direct mutual funds though. Discuss with your planer and observe his/her response carefully. You will understand what I mean better!
3. Are you saying that fee-only planners have no conflict of interest?
I have heard a lot of psychobabble about how human beings have some conflict of interest or other, blah blah! Unfortunately, the babble has emanated from fee-based planners! So I refuse to take it seriously!
From what I know, you need three entities to have a conflict of interest. For a fee-based planner it the individual, client and fund house (or insurer).
For a fee-only planner, it is just him/her and the client. Therefore ____ (Please fill in the blank. 2 marks!)
4. Are you endorsing the members in the list?
Yes I an endorsing their stand that commission-based advisory leads to conflict of interest. I applaud their confidence to not jump into band-wagons (easily 95%+ of advisory will be commission-based). I believe their stand should be supported.
I have interacted with the planners over email and confirmed that they do not distribute mutual funds. I cannot comment on their individual competence. However, if I wanted professional advice, I will go to one in this list. For I believe the confidence to not jump into bandwagons has non-zero competence tagged with it.
5. Are you receiving any kind of money from the fee-based planners for publishing this list?
No. That would be dumb! It goes against the whole idea of removing the third party!
6. Whom should I choose from this list?
Choose a planner in your town or city. I think face-to-face contact is very important. If this is not possible, go for online advisory.
Instead, If you can find a fee-based planner in your city, who has no issues with your investing directly, go for it!
7. There are many fee-based planners who encourage clients to invest directly if they wanted to. Why have you not included them in this list?
Matter of policy! Tough call for me as some of those guys are people who I can refer to as friends. They have helped me in many ways at some point or the other with the blog and calculators.
I will include them in this list only if their clients suggest it.
8. I am surprised to find that some famous bloggers who offer services are missing from the list! Why is this so?
Yes me too! The most likely reason for is that they are fee-based planners or receive some sort of remuneration from distributors.
9. Is there anything that I should do before engaging the services of planners in this list?
Due diligence! Check out their website, ask for previous client-details, speak to a couple of them, and then decide.
10. I am fee-only planner or I know of a fee-only planner. Can you add them to this list?
With pleasure! Please send me contact details. I will contact the planner via email, confirm their profile and add them to the list. A link to this list can found at all times at top right side of the blog.
11. Why did you make readers email you for the list if you had intended to publish it?
Apologies. This list is being published only because so many of you requested it! Nb. People who asked for it the earliest may find one or two new names in it.
12. I can do my own financial planning. Why do I need this list?
Sure why not! You might want to read this first though: What does it take to do your own financial planning?
Without further ado,
Updated: 19th Jan 2017
Note: I recommend hiring a planner seeking a flat fee and not a fee as % of your assets.
The names are arranged in random order.
Note: Members in this list suggest only direct mutual fund plans and do not ask you to invest via them or their friends or relatives. If you find out that this is happening, please inform me.
Request: If you have engaged the services of these planners and are satisfied, do refer them to your contacts. This is the least we can do to promote fee-only advisory.
I would also appreciate if you send me an email narrating your experience.
This list is pathetically short! Please promote fee-only advisory so that it becomes a viable career option.
Someday I hope fee-only advisory thrives in India (no harm in dreaming right!). If and when that happens, do spare a moment to think of a nut case named ‘pattu’!