Financial Intelligence is the Need of the Hour!

While taking a stroll in his neighborhood park one quiet evening, Rohit and I happened to bump into a very old college friend Virat. Rohit, a financial planner working for a reputed mutual fund house, and Virat, a manager at a factory of a reputed FMCG company, used to debate on various regional, national and global issues that got the pair well-known during college debate competitions. After reminiscing the good old days of ‘who delivered the best speech’, the two old buddies sat down to enjoy the sun-set when Rohit caught the attention of a mutual fund ad placed strategically outside of the park railings. “Mutual funds are a good way to invest your money in!” says Rohit. “No! Never!” said an alarmed Virat. “I would never dream of putting my money into such an investment channel. Do you know that it’s all a gamble? A sham? My wife once tried investing in such a scheme but lost all what she invested in after constantly reminding her of the consequences.” Virat continued to disagreed and insisted that they were unreliable which surprised Rohit and I a lot. He left in a hurry shortly after.

How can this dear friend think like this? Clearly he seemed to be quite against the idea of investing in mutual funds. Why so? Is there any reason for this kind of dislike towards mutual funds? Rohit and I wondered, and came up with 5 possible reasons for Virat’s reaction.

Inadequate awareness: There are various reasons contributing to his dislike towards mutual funds and why a vast majority of people believe them to be unsafe and unsecure. A huge mistake that anyone would make is to not ask or question the reason behind investing in mutual funds closely followed by believing strongly in what others think about mutual funds. According to popular perception, and added to it by the standard disclaimer : people are led to believe that mutual funds are risky.
The fact is that all investment products carry their own inherent risks, some more than others. Equities are a higher risk instruments than fixed income instruments like Bonds, but both carry risks. Since mutual funds are vehicles with these underlying assets, they too carry that risk. What this means is that while mutual funds are risky, all financial products carry their own level of risk, hence mutual funds are not riskier than others, it is the underlying asset class that carries most of the risk. If people take away that mental block that mutual funds are risky avenues of investing your hard earned money, then they will continue to be hesitant about ever venturing into such instruments. Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI), the trade association of mutual funds in India, launched a media and communication campaign – “Mutual Funds Sahi Hai”, as a part of the investor awareness outreach program. The campaign aims to position mutual funds as a preferred investment option for potential investors.

Too much of a headache!: Take for instance the scenario where Virat disagrees with Rohit regarding investing in mutual funds. To educate Virat about investing in mutual funds will be a big daunting task for him. He would find it too complicated and difficult to understand how to go about it and would rather give it a miss. For Virat, investing in other avenues like bank fixed deposits or insurance policies seem to be much simpler and easy to understand. In fact, opening a mutual fund account has become just as simple as any other financial institution by submitting information through an online KYC (Know Your Customer) facility. As a fund house, we pride ourselves on a completely paperless investing process and e-KYC.
No assurance on returns: Many a times, investors want guaranteed returns when investing in mutual funds. But that is not the case. There is no guarantee in this world but when investors start to invest, they want assured returns without giving importance to achieving their goals.
No faith in the markets: Investors tend to have very little or no faith in the stock market. As an investor, one needs to understand that mutual funds are not only about stocks but also debt funds like bonds, treasury bills etc. which can be safer avenues than equities.
Once bitten, twice shy: Investors who have invested heavily in mutual funds tend to back out due to losses attained by market fluctuations, or other investors known to them have faced similar situations. Reasons could be that they might have picked in a mutual fund that didn’t perform well or may have chosen a fund that didn’t match their risk appetite. This all boils down to the first point i.e. lack of awareness. It is always advisable to consult a financial expert when it comes to making any financial decisions.

What is a Mutual Fund Benchmark?

Back in the days, if you recall going home to break your exam results to your parents, it wasn’t an easy thing to do. After scoring 60% in one of the papers which was rather tough, you come up with a range of explanations making your parents understand how difficult the paper was. You then go on to claim that most of your classmates scored lower marks or that the class topper scored 68% which wasn’t too far from your own score. But, after giving all the valid reasons to convince them that the paper was a tough nut to crack, you are however reprimanded for not performing well. Surely, you would be disappointed that they are not trying to reason with you as to how tough the paper was.

Now take for instance a mutual fund’s performance for the past one-year period. It came down 7.5% during that period. In this case would it be right to say that the fund performed badly? It would be fair to compare the fund’s performance to a standard as you compared your performance to that of your classmates. A standard is thus the fund’s benchmark that helps to facilitate the understanding of any performance.

What is a Benchmark? It is but a common thing that an investor would notice in his/her inbox on a regular basis, the various marketing communication emails and mutual fund advertisements declared by fund houses that particular funds have earned XX% returns and that if invested in such funds, investors would earn such returns. It is important to understand the significance of using a benchmark for the purpose of effective comparison which sadly many investors fail to understand. Since 2012, for the sake of standardization, SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) has made it mandatory for fund houses to declare a similar return in INR and by way of CAGR in addition to the scheme benchmark performance.

A scheme’s benchmark is an index that is decided by its fund house to serve as a standard for the scheme’s returns. The BSE Sensex and Nifty are the most generally used benchmarks in India for mutual fund investments. Other benchmarks are Nifty 500, Nifty 100, CNX Midcap, CNX Smallcap, S&P BSE 200 etc. Investors are given an opportunity to compare the performance of their investments with that of the broader market. Take for instance you are investing in a diversified equity fund that is benchmarked against the BSE Sensex. Its returns are thus compared with that of BSE Sensex. Hence a large-cap fund’s performance needs to be compared against a large-cap benchmark and vice-versa. Once you know the performance, you can decide whether to enter or exit a mutual fund.

Mutual Fund Performance with respect to the Benchmark This is always the case that a mutual fund gets hit with force whenever the market scales new heights or comes crashing down. Let’s take for instance a diversified equity fund – Fund A is benchmarked against the Sensex. Its returns are hence compared with that of the Sensex. Now suppose the fund achieved 40% returns though the Sensex earned 50% returns, it would mean that Fund A underperformed its benchmark. While on the other hand, if the fund achieved 50% returns and the Sensex generated only 30%, it would mean that Fund A outperformed its benchmark. There are some situations where a fund generates similar returns as that of its benchmark. Such cases are said to be considered as fund underperformances as the main intent of actively managed equity mutual fund investing is to perform better than the benchmark.

Outperformed or Underperformed

Mutual Fund Performance with respect to the Benchmark

If returns are greater than its benchmark returns Fund has outperformed

If returns are lesser than its benchmark returns Fund has underperformed

A benchmark is an important tool that helps to measure a fund’s performance. To avoid any misunderstandings, an appropriate benchmark needs to be selected. Keep in mind that a benchmark performance is not the only criterion to select a mutual fund to invest in. Therefore, consult your financial advisor, understand your own risk appetite and assess your needs before taking any investment decisions.

Words of Wisdom for your Financial Journey

Today, we share with you 5 priceless thoughts by these investment experts. We are sure this will inspire your financial journey forever.

“I will tell you how to become rich. Close the doors. Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.” – Warren Buffett Okay, so this comes from one of the richest men in the history of investment. But haven’t you also read something similar in our communications :. Dear investor, if you wish to turn your investment into wealth then you must know that one needs to invest when the markets are down, so you could find good value and not when the index hits high and makes everything expensive.
“The individual investor should act consistently as an investor and not as a speculator.” – Ben Graham Been there, said that – didn’t we. A disciplined investor will never speculate. Speculation is akin to gambling and that’s the last thing we want you to do with your hard earned savings. Meet your investment objective with careful planning and selecting the right fund that will help you get there. Ignore market noise and focus on completion of your financial goal.
“It’s not how much money you make, but how much money you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for.” – Robert Kiyosaki We have always emphasized on the fact that one needs to start investing from the time they get their first pay cheque. It doesn’t matter how much you earn, but how much to invest. Remember, investing your hard earned money helps it grow. Also a small start could potentially have a grand finale. Remember it should be Salary – Investments = Spends and not Salary – Spends = Investments
“Investing should be more like watching paint dry or watching grass grow. If you want excitement, take $800 and go to Las Vegas.” – Paul Samuelson How much ever boring it might sound, that ‘boring’ stuff is exactly what would work for you in the long run. Long term investing in equity mutual fundsWill help you reach your financial goals better.
“Our favorite holding period is forever.” – Warren Buffett Markets are volatile in nature. The tendency of reading and reacting to short term market conditions in investing is detrimental to the health of one’s investing life! Not only does it end up robbing investors of returns but tends to discourage investors from making further investments. Investors who have burned their fingers are likely to distance themselves from stock markets forever and convince others too, if it were possible. Instead a good investor follows the Law of the Farm. For a great harvest a farmer must carefully plan, work consistently and diligently over a long period of time. This quote is valid especially in today’s day and age when the markets are running up and everyone seems to be making a beeline to invest in stocks. Don’t be hasty, check your risk appetite, do your homework and invest accordingly. The India growth story is decades long and the markets will see many bull (and bear) runs during this time. So invest for the long term. Invest wisely.

How to Get the Best Educational Consultant for Your Child

All parents want to provide the best education for their children. Parents who want to home school their child require support from an educational associate. An educational associate helps them create a balanced curriculum and assessment program- a complete educational plan for their child.

So, how do you find the most suitable educational planner? This process requires some due diligence in which the parents closely analyze certain characteristics. Here are some characteristics that you must look for in a professional educational associate:

1. Should Have Prior Experience working with Individual Students
It is essential that the educational associate you choose has some prior experience working with individuals. The experience helps them to deal with your child in a better way. They must understand that each child has his or her key strengths and weaknesses. This can help them develop a special customized educational plan for your child according to his or her learning pace and ability.

2.Should Have Experience in a Specific Area
In case your child takes special education services, you must choose a consultant who has thorough knowledge of all related laws for such services. In addition, you may ask specifications about the services to gauge the consultant’s understanding of the specialty. This is important in order to provide top quality education for your child.

3. Should Have Adequate Knowledge about Academic Assessments
The educational consultant should have in depth knowledge about how to prepare and conduct student academic assessments. You want to ensure that your consultant is well aware of the criteria, pertaining to the learning capacity and pace of your child. You may ask them to elucidate the entire assessment process for your own satisfaction.

4. Should have some Certification in Educational Psychology
Your child may have special needs, so you need to make sure your educational assistant has adequate knowledge in that area. Educational consultants help deal with children who have special needs such as behavioral problems. The accreditation ensures that the consultant has prior experience in that specialty.

5. Should have a good chemistry with the Family
An educational assistant should be able to make the child and his or her family comfortable. This is important as it makes it easier for the family to share relevant information about their child. This information can be necessary to create a customized curriculum and assessment plan. Therefore, this can enable parents and consultants to work together to maximize learning potential of the child.

An IT Consulting Company Delivers Optimal Answers When Goals Are Uncertain

IT or information technology consulting is offered to assist any business unsure of how to properly apply hardware, applications, systems, or services for meeting desired objectives. A company can supply advice only or assist in additional areas such as the design or implementation of a solution. These agencies have widespread knowledge in various areas of business information technology. Their skills are applied to provide estimates, management services, implementation assistance, and system administration benefits to an organization. An IT consulting company will define the roles of each involved party upfront to avoid confusion. Supplied information is used to determine what a client needs and the offered answer is gone over in a way that allows the end product to be visualized. A consultant is responsible for advising on system or application requirements, but leaves the end decision in the hands of the client. An experienced professional should be capable of delivering a solution that meets the requirements of the end user, addresses all concerns, and supplies the training or implementation needed by an organization.

What should be Known Before Hiring Managed Services?

A few problems can be expected as a managed service provider begins to evaluate business needs. The scope, time, and cost of a project must first be defined to set boundaries for the developed solution. An individual or business is responsible for supporting an organization from initial development to project delivery. It should be delivered in the set timeframe, within the cost range, and satisfy the client. An owner or management team does not typically know what is needed when an advisor is brought into the picture. Inability to determine project scope leads to increased financial investment and can be avoided by having a set of technology goals or list of requirements. Additional complications sometimes arise during the design or management of a solution when the wrong person has been appointed to make important decisions regarding the project. Initial planning is required before acquiring managed services to make a valuable investment.

Counseling, technical, business, communication, and management skills are pertinent to consultant effectiveness. Lack of these skills will lead to a less optimal solution where the business needs are not met. An organization seeking professional assistance should evaluate available skills, overall experience, and the company’s reputation before making a hiring decision. It is a good idea to create a general summary or list of desired goals before interviewing. This will help in evaluating how much knowledge the firm has in the specific area where assistance is necessary. Consulting fees are typically charged for each skilled professional at a daily rate. Fixed fees have become a new option in the consulting industry, and can be applied to projects with set timeframes and precisely specified tasks. An IT consulting company is useful when an enterprise requires a non-invested party, specific expertise, improved staff collaboration, an outside opinion, or a fresh look at an existing problem. Organizations can save vast amounts of time or money by using these services when making important technology decisions.

Hotel Consultants – How Can They Transform Your Establishment?

Over the past five years, there have been significant changes within the hospitality and lodging industries around the world, with changes in consumer behaviour and purchase processes, increasing global competition, changing legal and infrastructural operating environments, as well as challenging economic conditions. As a result, many business and organisations in the lodging and accommodation industry are turning to hotel consultants to transform the establishment; whether this is small steps of streamlining the operation, or assisting with a major overhaul to become competitive in the marketplace.

Hotel consultants work closely with the owners and managerial team to assist them in the management of the operation, implementing a process of change management that focuses on devising planning and regulatory changes to improve the day to day efficiency of the hotel, as well as the overall profitability of the business.

Hotel consultants perform numerous roles within the business environment, whether it is assisting a new venture to develop the building blocks for future success, or the implementation of business and marketing strategies to improve the performance of an existing business that is experiencing difficulties in the current marketplace. For a hotel that has been experiencing hard times, fraught with problems, a hotel consultant can introduce fresh ideas, opportunities and processes to improve the performance of the business.

For many operations, being tied within the four walls of the operations, as well dedicating the majority of their time to the day to day management of the property, the staff are sometimes unable to think outside of the box to identify new opportunities and systems. An experienced hotel consultant, who has a wealth of knowledge about the hospitality and lodging industries, is able to review the business with fresh eyes. An effective hotel consultant will possess a range of skills and broad range of business experience, from human resource management to the last trends in hotel marketing, regulatory requirements and the development of systems to streamline the business to reduce overall expenditures.

It is essential that prior to any change being implemented within the business that the hotel consultant takes the time to understand the current culture, performance, operations and antecedent circumstances of the hotel and its current level of performance. Only then can the individual be in a position to develop and implement processes of change that will work in the specific situation of your hotel. Although there are generic processes that improve the hotels operating performance, the nuances of each operation must be taken into consideration. This allows the specific strategies to be customised to the specific hotel in question and the issues that they face.

How to Find a Google AdWords Consultant That’s Right for Your Business

While implementing an AdWords campaign is an effective strategy, it is only as good as your skills and knowledge of it. This is why one of the biggest mistakes when it comes to using Google AdWords is assuming you know what you are doing. While it seems easy on the surface to create ads and manage pay per click (PPC) campaigns, there is much more to them in reality.

The truth is that any website can create an AdWords account; however, the most successful campaigns are most often run by Google AdWords consultant. They have been active in the online advertising industry and keep up with the trends when it comes to not only creating great ad copy, but also creating ads that have great conversion rates. And, when it comes down to it, if your ads are not converting, then you are wasting your money.

The best option for companies is to hire a PPC consultant. They will not only be able to manage your ads, but also have the ability to work with you to ensure you are developing ads that are targeted to the right segment of customers.

In addition to this, there are a number of other benefits when it comes to hiring a Google AdWords consultant. They include:

• The ability to maximize your online adverting budget so you get the most out of your money.
• The ability to drive traffic through the correct channels and increase the change of converting customers. Traffic is okay, but targeted traffic is that much better.
• The ability to write high quality ad copy
• The ability to increase your click through rate
• The ability to maximize your overall online marketing efforts

Companies need to find an AdWords consultant that is right for their business. They need someone who can effectively manage their PPC campaign in a manner that fits in with your company’s overall goals and objectives. Failure to integrate a PPC consultant into other areas of your online marketing such as organic SEO, and social media can take the steam out of your marketing efforts.

However, any consultant will not do and companies need to be diligent in finding the right company or person to manage their PPC accounts. Here are some of the criteria you should consider when seeking out the services of a consultant:

• High quality customer service and a detailed PPC management approach
• A qualified AdWords company or individual
• Positive testimonials from previous clients
• A proven track record of results
• The ability to provide conversation and traffic reports related to the online ad campaign
• A realistic view on results and timelines for the campaign. If they are promising the world then you should be cautious.
• Work is completed in-house

Google AdWords is an effective marketing tool if done correctly. It is best to leave it to the professionals. They will be able to not only maximize your money, but also your results for PPC campaign.

Using a Business Consultant: Frequently Asked Questions

Companies invest a substantial amount of time, and money, to brainstorm and execute strategic plans. However, sometimes those carefully considered plans do not pan out as intended. When an organization follows its strategic plan, yet still fails to achieve its objectives, it is time to assess what went wrong and try something different. This tends to be difficult since, in most cases, the people evaluating failed decisions are the same people who made those decisions in the first place. Instead of diagnosing the problem, leaders will instead waste time with finger pointing as they try to deflect the blame. It should be no surprise that many companies will opt to use external expert business consultants to try to understand the problem. If a firm has never used one of these professionals before, they will probably have several questions about how to proceed. Here are the answers to those questions:

What exactly does a business consultant do?

The primary goal of these professionals is to help companies become more successful, by analyzing existing problems, and working with the client to create a proper solution.

Can they provide anything that will not be found internally?

Absolutely. The most obvious benefit of bringing in executive consulting help is that they will come in with an objective viewpoint, and will not be afraid of calling out certain individuals as a co-worker might be. They will also not have any stake in the outcome, while an internal employee may be considering his or her own interests when making decisions. Additionally, since these experts will have experience with assisting a number of different companies within the industry, they will have quite a bit of anecdotal evidence and knowledge of best practices to draw on. It will be difficult to find someone internally with similar business knowledge.

Are these professionals just glorified facilitators?

While the two are similar, there is a big difference between these two individuals. A facilitator will utilize a number of pre-planned activities, and training courses to guide those within the organization to a consensus on ideas and decisions. They are impartial and will never make their opinions known or offer up suggestions of their own. However, consultants are hired specifically for their knowledge. Companies that utilize them want to hear ideas and suggestions from an outside source as they try to uncover new ways of addressing organizational problems. Additionally, they can provide feedback for managers to improve their performance.

What should a client keep in mind when searching for outside help?

The client will typically create a needs assessment based on what he or she believes the company needs. However, there is still the risk that the client will not be in a position to see the big picture. Even if they are, they may not have an idea of how to solve it. When considering executive consulting, it is wise for managers to trust the hired professional and listen to what they have to say. If they say that the client needs the full range of services, then a manager looking to cut costs should not be so quick to dismiss that option.

Self-Employed Consultants Are No Longer Wage Slaves

Can you just imagine waking up each morning eager to get to work. You are doing the work that you love to do and being paid well.

You set the hours you work – short or long. You choose the days you work each week – seven days, three days, not at all today. You choose whether to work in the city or at home and you choose when to take your vacation and how long it will be.Your work life is a joy.

You can do all this because you are the boss!

An impossible dream?

Not if you offer your services as a consultant.

Shirley Hated Her Boss – Who Wouldn’t?

Many people are opting out of the rat-race of working for employers who do not appreciate them. They offer their skills in a consulting role and are paid much more for them. Sometimes to the same boss.

Take Shirley for example: She was a very efficient secretary to a most unappreciating employer. Her employer gave her little respect and treated her as his personal lackey rather than a professional secretary. He often gave her complex assignments towards the end of the day and insisted she work after hours to complete them.

He bawled throughout the day for his coffee and expected Shirley to stop whatever she was doing to cater to his needs.

The task she resented most was having to pick up his personal dry-cleaning, but all may have been bearable if only she had received a ‘thank you’ or been shown some sign that she and her services were appreciated.

Frustration Forces Some Action

Shirley became so frustrated and unhappy she thought of leaving her job and seeking new employment. Two things stopped her, first, she needed the steady salary and she was afraid of jumping into the same situation with perhaps an even worse boss. A friend told her that perhaps she could do typing as a home business. The idea didn’t really thrill her, after all, she was much more than just a typist but she decided to find out more about setting up a home business.

So she sought the advice of a business consultant

Shirley Left the Rat-race Forever

With the help of a consultant she listed all the tasks she was now doing. Shirley then prioritized them according the skill required and the level of enjoyment and satisfaction she received in performing them (picking up dry-cleaning came last on each criteria).

Shirley discovered that one of the special skills that she enjoyed performing was organizing meetings, including the arrangement of traveling and accommodation for attendees, the preparation of minutes, the catering and all those other services that allowed the participants to focus on the business of the meeting.

The consultant told her that these were sought after skills and very saleable as both large and small firms preferred to outsource this work. So with his assistance she set up her own consulting firm offering these services.

Now, she has so many clients that she can pick and choose. She even has her old boss as a client but now he regards her as a valuable resource which he needs to nurture in case she becomes no longer available. Her remuneration is much higher than when she worked for a wage. And Shirley…she loves working with him far more than when she worked for him.

Everyone of us has special skills which business owners are searching for and will pay generously for.

How To Hire An Online Marketing Consultant

Working with a digital marketing consultant for the first time can be a challenge due to the various factors that you need to consider. Will they understand your business or products? How will they work with you and your team? Will they deliver on what they promise and will they be affordable?

These are all important questions that you will be seeking answers for and by doing some due diligence, you are sure to find the right person for your business.

Here are 9 points you should consider as you look to hire a digital marketing consultant:

1. What is their experience?

There are different types of online marketing consultants working in different sectors and you need to be sure the person you hire has experience within your industry. For example, a B2B marketer will have different skills and experience from one that is in the consumer retail sector.

So, this is an important point to consider and you should ensure that they understand the nature of your business, industry trends and what your goals are.

2. Who have they worked with in the past?

Ask for references from past clients and check out the full list of clients they’ve worked for. This should give you a clue of their experience because if they have worked with similar businesses then you are at an advantage.

3. Which sectors have they worked in?

Some sectors overlap and an online marketing consultant that has worked within the B2B services sector will likely bring valuable skills to the consumer services sector. That’s because many of the issues around the nature of services like their being intangible and being consumed at the time they are produced are very similar.

4. Are they a freelancer or agency marketer?

With the growth in Internet access around the world and fast connection speeds, it has become much easier to work with clients and partners who are across the world. So an SEO freelancer in India for example is able to offer the same or an even better service than a local marketer.

This has also been helped by freelance websites such as People Per Hour and Elance that have thousands of registered marketers who offer a great service. Also, the rating and review systems on these sites make it easier to choose a freelancer that has the skills you require.

The other two options include employing a digital marketer or hiring an agency that has a wide range of skills and a team of experts that can help in creating online campaigns, digital copywriting, email marketing, social media and more.

5. Where are they based?

If you decide to work with a freelancer, it’s a benefit if you can meet up face-to-face to discuss strategy. That way you will build a stronger relationship and it will ensure that you are both on the same page as regarding plans for your business.

6. What qualifications do they hold?

A degree or diploma in marketing is a good start, however it is not essential especially in the online world where experience and technical skills are more important. However, it’s important to have the fundamental marketing skills of market research, customer and competitor analysis strategy and other skills which are taught at colleges and universities.

7. Do they have online reviews?

If you plan to work with a freelancer or agency, then it’s likely that they have reviews for work they’ve carried out in the past. Check out these reviews to see what other clients have to say about their skills, work ethic, experience, response times and so on. Also, if you can get references from past clients that would be extra helpful to you as you make your decision.

8. What do they charge for their services?

Hiring a consultant should be affordable for your business and no matter how excellent they are, if you cannot meet their costs then it’s better to look elsewhere. Freelancers are available at affordable rates on sites like Elance, however these sites are more suited for one-off projects and tasks.

9. Are they published or an author?

This one is not as important as the other points because there are many marketing experts that have not published articles or a book. Of course a marketing practitioner that is recognised as an expert and is published is a bonus over one that is not, because they will have demonstrated deep knowledge in their field and be respected too.