Anu (34) and Rajiv Mehrotra (38) (name changed), believed in living life to its fullest. Rajiv was a share-broker while Anu, a fashion designer, worked from home to take care of their daughter aged 12. They only invested in low-return instruments such as PPF and NSC to qualify for the miniscule tax sops allowed.
Unfortunately, in India, life insurance is never bought, always sold. As a customer service initiative, educating customers on the necessity of covering one’s life and protecting income for the family is a mammoth task.
The Mehrotras were approached and explained the importance of life cover. As is the trend, Rajiv lost no time in comparing the opportunity costs of the premium he would have to provide for on a recurrent basis. Anu was, thankfully, adamant that Rajiv cover his life with a reliable protection plan, a few months after which she planned to subscribe to a suitable plan to cover herself.
6 months later, a minor slip in the bathroom turned fatal for Rajiv. Anu was lost. The emotional void a person leaves behind after his death can never be filled but life has to go on. Expenses continue to pile up. The harsh reality of life is that the family of the deceased continues to live while suffering financial and emotional loss. Anu was lucky and within 10 days, the insurance company cleared her dues.
She spent no time in covering herself to protect the future of her only daughter. Five years have passed since and today Anu is financially independent; she runs a successful boutique with very high-profile clientele and her daughter will shortly be flying to London for higher studies.
According to a nationwide study, although 57% of respondents own life insurance, only 28% feel extremely confident in their understanding of life insurance and 66% don’t have a good understanding of how to collect a life insurance payout.
Accidents and death may happen any time. We all know families like Mehrotras who have faced such incidents. Life insurance can help you and your family tide over tough times. It gives you options and financial freedom when you need it the most, stress Kavita Bothra and Nina Kotian, directors of investment-advisory firm Pinnacle Wealth Management Pvt Ltd. The Navi-Mumbai based company provides financial planning, investment portfolio management and a number of aggregated services since 2010.
Walking down memory lane, the women financial consultants remembered their days as individual entrepreneurs, who ran successful investment companies till 2010 and often met during events organized by the life insurance companies for which they were advisers. They became good friends and joined a certificate course to further acquire knowledge on financial planning.
A Bsc (physics) graduate from a traditional Marwari family, Kavita had no idea about trading. It was post-marriage that she picked up the trade nuances. “Share trading was something new to me. I tried my hand and made a few bucks but even lost some,” she said. Post the market scams, Kavita fell back on her education and started a software development firm where she trained a small team of free-lancers with good results, till the dot-com bust. The privatization of the insurance industry, which happened a few years thereafter, encouraged her to build on her knowledge of share markets and make a foray into advising and distributing investment products through her own consultancy. “It has been an exciting journey so far,” she stated.
Finance was always Nina’s forte. Having studied commerce, Nina started her career in the accounts department of a construction company and slowly scaled the career ladder, mastering all aspects of syndication and corporate finance while working in a private investment firm.
“I gained good practical knowledge of syndication. After my daughter’s birth, it was difficult to work in a traditional 9am to 6pm job and so I planned to start something of my own,” said Nina. She started Sterling Finance Services in 2000, a wing of Sterling Telecom run by her husband. Nina met with good success till the syndication business witnessed a lull period. During the same period, insurance and other retail finance business was growing and she moved from corporate to retail finance.
While training for the financial planning certification, the women financial consultants lamented the general downturn in the industry, largely due to government apathy towards financial product distributors. They decided to join hands and become a force to reckon with. “We realized we would be able to double our strengths and divide our risks. Thus, Pinnacle Wealth took birth,” recalled Nina.
Today, Pinnacle Wealth Management offers a unique and valuable service that enables clients to enjoy the confidence and peace of mind that comes from having their investments handled prudently and their financial lives organized and simplified. “Our mission is to educate clients, help simplify and organize their financial lives and create peace of mind both for today and the future,” said Kavita.
Stepping in to a male-dominated industry was a challenge. Thorough knowledge is a pre-requisite to success, they stressed. “Most men and unfortunately, even women, have a mental block about their respective roles. In 90% of the households across our country, women strive to make savings for a rainy day. Anything a man can do, a woman can do better. This is an age-old adage and has been proven correct time and again,” stressed Kavita. Nina added, “Gone are the days when women had no say in financial matters at home. In fact, financial investments initiated by women have risen”.
The recent union budget was definitely reformist. Focusing on welfare of the girl-child, the government has launched the Sukanya scheme – a good initiative from prime minister Narendra Modi. It encourages you to save up to Rs 1.5 lakhs every year by giving you very good tax-free returns. Overall, it seems a balanced budget, pointed the investment consultants.
The duo has survived challenging times. In the days to come, they wish to offer specialized services to select customers. Land is the main asset class for many. They also wish to specialize in retirement planning for doctors, individuals and corporates. They hope to open more branches across the country and employ more women to lend them strength.
Pics by Farooq Sayed
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