Myth Busted: Indians are happy to pay for ‘good’ financial advice

Published: January 6, 2022 at 7:00 am

Many advisors and personal finance enthusiasts believe that “Indians are not ready to pay for financial advice”; “products and associated advice should be “pushed” with incorrect expectations ” and the like. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Indians (like any other person from any other country and like any other sensible buyer) are more than happy to pay for “good financial advice” ( = competent + trustworthy).

Naturally not everyone is willing to pay and most people want free advice. This is not the problem. The problem is when a financial advisor looks at this group and extrapolates that no one is willing to pay.

If we open a high-end fine dining restaurant, we cannot expect the same footfall as a neighbourhood mess. It is our job to showcase our product before the right people. This is where many financial advisors struggle.

Many of them don’t seem to have clarity on who their target audience is. And yes, they need an audience first to whom their credentials and expertise must be consistently showcased.


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Both the buyer and service provider must appreciate that affordability is just a point of view. A person with an income of about Rs. 25, 000 a month will feel that a fee of Rs. 25,000 is “too much”. Whether this is an informed opinion or not is another matter.

On the other hand, a person with an income of Rs. 25 lakhs will not hesitate to pay a fee of Rs. 1 to 1.5 lakhs for financial advice. Again, whether this is an informed decision or not is another matter, but there it is!

So a new financial advisor should aggressively indulge in market research to appreciate who will pay at what price point and then consistently cultivate that particular audience.

How does one do this? Spend time in a forum like the Facebook group Asan Ideas for Wealth. Appreciate the kind of problems investors have. Try and solve their problems without holding back and without expectations.

Write about their problems, tweet about them, create videos, podcasts. Impress journalists on Twitter. Contribute quotes and articles to news media. Set up an impressive web presence.

Ring the right bells and bang the right drums to let the right kind of audience know that you exist and watch the enquiries flow!

To appreciate what we mean here is the first lecture of our course: Increase your income by getting people to pay for your skills!

So how do we know that “Indians are not ready to pay for financial advice” is a myth? Here are some diverse examples of how advisors in our list of SEBI registered fee-only financial planners are regularly getting clients.

  1. Avinash Lurthria charges an hourly fee (the total fee would typically be upwards of Rs. one lakh) and focuses on high networth clients. He is able to attract a few clients a month with a consistent display of expertise in various news media outlets. When readers see your credentials and your competence, they will not hesitate to pay. Naturally, the number of clients would be few but Avinash has the right expectations and is clear about his business vision.
  2. Swapnil Kendhe gets regular clients via his website, social media presence and articles.
  3. Vikram Krishnamoorthy does not write much or post on social media but has an excellent web presence and client referrals.
  4. Melvin Joseph a pioneer in fee-only advisory fires on all cylinders: articles, social media presence, news media presence, referrals etc.

There are many more examples:  Chanan Singh Padiyar is a well-known name in Asan Ideas for Wealth, S R Srinivasan is active on Reddit. Many of these planners are also well known in NRI circles and forums and also engage in corporate outreach.

In Aug 2019, 412 readers participated in a survey: Are clients happy with fee-only financial advisors? We repeated the survey in May 2021 and 685 investors rated their experience with SEBI registered fee-only advisors. By now we are confident that well over 1000 clients are working with these advisors.

One might argue the above-mentioned names are exceptions and not examples. That fact is, investors are ready to pay, but not just to anyone. So only the “exceptional” will thrive. There is no point blaming the buyer when the fault is with the service or with the marketing.

So if you are struggling to get clients, tell yourself, “investors are not yet ready to pay me; How can I showcase my talent before the right audience to change this situation?”

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About The Author

Pattabiraman editor freefincalDr M. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He has over nine years of experience publishing news analysis, research and financial product development. Connect with him via Twitter or Linkedin or YouTube. Pattabiraman has co-authored three print books: (1) You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) for DIY investors. (2) Gamechanger for young earners. (3) Chinchu Gets a Superpower! for kids. He has also written seven other free e-books on various money management topics. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India,” an organisation for promoting unbiased, commission-free investment advice.
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