You need a Real Financial Planner more than any Product, Investment or Strategy

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

A few weeks back, I had written a post “The Bullshit Filter”. Many of you had loved it and had written back. Read it again if you cannot recollect it. The post had a mention of Real Financial Planners versus Scamsters, Market Manipulators and Bullshitters. In this post, I elaborate a bit on the work of Real Financial Planners and what they do.

Harish Gandhi was a 53-year-old Corporate Executive with an MNC in Mumbai. Around 3 years back, he thought of retiring from his work to focus on trading as he was making some decent amount of money. He quit his job and focused on this full time eventually making losses trading in Futures & Options, getting stressed and then an untimely heart attack. He left behind his wife Hema, aged 50 years and 2 children, who had just begun their careers.

A Real Financial Planner with a solid conscience Mahesh met Hema 2 years back and had walked her through our financial planning experience. She liked the process, saw value, and decided that she should pursue this path. However, her account was at the brokerage firm of a large bank and her (looking out for self) relationship manager managed to convince her otherwise. Mahesh did not pursue this thinking he would appear pushy; it is not appropriate to do so and the client will come when they realize his value.

Fast forward several weeks back – Mahesh was reaching out to all his prospects and people that he knew to just check on them and he managed to connect to Hema. To his horror, Hema told him “Mahesh, we lost everything, and I am waiting for my heart attack to happen”.  Mahesh was stunned at this line and he dug further to figure out that in the last 3 months, her investment account was down from Rs. 2.6 Crore to Rs. 25 Lakh. The relationship manager had nothing to say and she blamed the markets for a 90%+ erosion. Not just this, Hema’s 2 children had lost their jobs. Hema told Mahesh “I don’t know why I didn’t listen to you. If you had insisted on me doing what you were telling me to do, I would not be in this situation. I know it’s my mistake that I didn’t listen to you”.

Mahesh went through what had happened and then told her few next steps to be taken with her existing account to prevent any further damage. He organized a Zoom call with Hema, her brother and her 2 children on how the family can be back on their feet in the next several years. Mahesh told them “I am there for you and in the next 5 years we will get back to where we were slowly and steadily saving and building back the portfolio. First things first, let us figure out what we will need the next 2 years and the best way to build an income stream. Send me your son’s resume and I will try my best to even do something on your job front”.

I will not get into the details of this but there was a lot of stuff that Mahesh did for the family. Hema cried and thanked him so much for all that he was doing for them.

Mahesh (my colleague) called me up a few days later, narrated this story and told me that he cried that night, and this has been bothering him since. He said “I felt guilty that it was my mistake not to push her to do the right thing. I don’t know why we hesitate when others are so aggressive and busy selling the wrong thing.”

I told him this is exactly why the entire industry gets a bad name. The problem happens when the people who really care shut up and are not persuasive enough. I told him that he needs to be a Persuasive Educator and there is a difference between being a Real Financial Planner and Product Salesperson. A Real Financial Planner is not afraid of being persuasive because he knows that he is doing it with the best interests of the clients in mind. Just like our parents used to tell us (while growing up) to eat vegetables that we did not, they did not give up on us even when we screamed and threw tantrums. They knew it was good for us. Period.

I am so proud of Mahesh who is now helping rebuild this family’s financial life and acting as support to them during their most difficult times.

This is what Real Financial Planners Do.

They have their client’s best interest at heart. They even go to the extent of ensuring that no one comes between their client’s goals and their clients – not even their clients. The world needs more of them.