In an exclusive interview with Yogita Khatri of myiris.com, Priyesh Shah, chief executive officer (CEO), Bliss Xpress talks about financial planning as a career and role of an independent financial advisor (IFA).
Priyesh Shah, Chartered Accountant (C.A.) and a Certified Financial Planner (CFPCM) is a chief executive officer (CEO) of Bliss Xpress. He did his masters in commerce from Mumbai University and is also an Associate of Insurance Institute of India. He has a diversified experience of more than five years in the field of personal finance and has been into financial planning profession since past couple of years. He has recently started his own company which focuses on spreading financial planning and financial literacy in India. Prior to this he was the Chief Financial Planner at SRE Financial Planners, Mumbai and was involved in preparing `Financial Plans` for individuals and families.
> What led you to choose financial planning as a career?
I have often been asked this question before because both my parents are doctors and being the only son, there is a notion that prevails in the society that a doctor`s son is generally a doctor. I always had it in me to do something which is close to people`s life, but medical practice never attracted me. I preferred commerce and became a Chartered Accountant (CA), however I was still not happy the way my role was looked upon in people`s life. Here is where I came across the financial planning profession. I liked the approach which a financial planner uses and also the unbiased nature of the advice. I became a `Certified Financial Planner` and have chosen financial planning as my full time career. I proudly say that, I may not be a medical doctor but I am a financial doctor. There is not much difference between the two. The first one diagnoses your physical health and gives his prescription, whereas I would diagnose your financial health and give you prescriptions.
> What services do you offer? How long have you been advising clients?
Financial planning is a noble profession (similar to that of a Doctor) and provides unbiased advice to clients for meeting their Life`s goals. I have been planning and advising clients since past couple of years. The planning part includes various plans like: Comprehensive financial plans, investment plans, insurance plans, debt management plans, etc. Recently I have started my own company which focuses on spreading financial planning and financial literacy in India.
> Briefly explain the investment / selling scenario of the financial products you offer in current market?
Currently I see two scenarios / reactions of people who make investments. First scenario relates to those people who had invested during the Bull Run in equities and mutual funds and have seen a considerable downfall in the value of their investments. These people have been shying away from equities and mutual funds and waiting till they recover their initial investment costs. They are focusing on secured investment products like Term deposits, LIC pension products, Bonds, etc. The second scenario relates to those people who had a long term approach and thus increased their investments during the downfall. They eventually focused on a longer time horizon and reduced their costs of investments.
> How important is an independent financial advisor (IFA) in the total sales process?
The image which an IFA carries with him is that of a professional. If he has been certified by a principal body and is bound by the ethics and standards prescribed by the body, the respect for such professional is higher compared to a sales agent. He is in a position to read between the lines of the products launched by companies and give appropriate advice about the product. Also he would not be pushing a particular product; rather he would be looking at what are client`s goals and accordingly advice him the most economical product.
> What role do you think FAAIDA can play with you to improve the IFA performance?
FAAIDA should provide platform for regular interaction between these IFA. They should also represent to the government to inculcate certain standards and qualifications for people who want to be IFA. Also providing financial planning support and tools would help the new breed of IFA to cut short on their gestation time of entering into the financial planning profession.
> In today`s fluctuating market conditions, what`s been the most common reaction from your clients?
Most of the clients are aware about the strategies which we have applied for meeting their goals. The strategies have been reviewed and accordingly the asset allocation has been adjusted. For few who got carried away by the noise on the media got into panic mode and sold off their investments.
> On a personal note, any personalities or books that have influenced you the most?
There is one book which has influenced me the most and I strongly recommend every individual to read this book. It is `Rich Dad`s Guide to Investing` by Robert Kiyosaki. This book has changed the way we look at personal finances and has simple common sense approach to explain the difficult concepts which one often fails to understand in his quest to become rich.