‘Reassurance of the financial planner saves me from panicking’
For the Munipellas, financial planning started by identifying their goals, then doing away with financial products they didn’t need and finally changing their attitude towards money
Kailash Munipella, 44, feels he is in a much better place financially after he began consulting a financial planner, because he now has a more structured and disciplined approach to managing money—something that was missing in his early work years. “In the first decade of my working life, my financial life was all over the place. Most of my money was in the bank account and at the end of the year I would buy life insurance mindlessly to save taxes,” said Kailash. But an MBA degree at the age of 32, from the Indian School of Business, made him realise he had to change this approach. “The course helped me realise the universe of financial products but it was also my peers that made me introspect on how I had been handling my money,” he said. Kailash had been married for 3 years when he took a large education loan for his MBA and it hit him that if he had been more disciplined, loan would have looked much smaller. “Some of my batchmates paid for the course on their own and some with very little loan. That’s when I realised the importance of managing money well. It was about time for me too,” he added.
With this learning, Kailash began looking for someone who could give him unbiased and knowledgeable advice. “I started consulting a financial planner 12 years back. At that time, Bengaluru didn’t have the concept of financial advisers, but I was sure I needed professional help and that it couldn’t come from agents or distributors. An uncle of mine put me in touch with Shyam (his financial planner),” said Kailash. At first, Kailash went alone and later took his wife Sahana along. “I have never been good with money, Kailash has handled our money but it was largely in traditional products. After meeting a planner we were able to get some direction on how to holistically look at financial planning,” said Sahana.
For the Munipellas, their first step towards financial planning started with identifying their goals. “We didn’t have a child then, so our goals were primarily paying up the education loan, retirement, saving enough to buy a house and then some short-term goals like going on a holiday,” said Kailash. The second step was to do away with the financial products that they didn’t need. “I had accumulated all kinds of insurance policies to save taxes. So I surrendered those and now I have a term policy for life and health insurance that’s over and above what my employer provides,” added Kailash.
The third step was a change in attitude towards money. “I never considered equities and my comfort was only with bank deposits and insurance. The stock market was like this mythical creature everyone talked about but I had no clue how it worked. Shyam made me realise the importance of equity for long-term goals and I know for a fact that if it wasn’t for professional advice, I wouldn’t have invested in equities ever. Now I have about 60% allocation in equity through mutual funds,” said Kailash. For the Munipellas, the biggest learning has been that financial well-being is about discipline, focus and constancy of purpose. For Sahana, it was also about being more careful with the spends. “I am not much of a saver but our planner taught me how to track my expenses and that made me careful. This has not altered our lifestyle in anyway,” she added.
The Munnipellas now have an 8-year-old daughter and their financial goals have expanded. “I have paid off my education loan and bought a house, and I was able to do this comfortably. And now my goals include my daughter’s education. This I have further bifurcated into ‘till class 12 education’ and ‘college education’ and I feel confident that if my daughter wants to study abroad, we will be able to pay for it,” said Kailash.
According to Kailash, the need for a financial planner goes beyond advice—it also gives them a sense of security and confidence. “When you see stock market volatility—as is being witnessed now—it’s very easy to lose your nerve, panic and run from equity. But a planner will help you focus on the long-term goals, ignoring the short-term blips. Reassurance of a professional is very important,” said Kailash. “A planner keeps you from making mistakes. For instance, I thought we would invest in a second house but Shyam explained to us why real estate as an asset class will not give the kind of returns equity will be able to give. We were convinced and changed our mind,” he said.
Name: Kailash Munipella
Profession: manager with Seimens
Name: Sahana Munipella
Profession: homemaker and volunteer education counsellor
Financial planner: Shyam Sunder, managing director, PeakAlpha Investment Services Pvt. Ltd