Name: Richa Agnihotri
Husband: Sandeep, dermatologist
Kids: Vani and Kabir
City: New Delhi
Financial Planner: Surya Bhatia, Acme Finserve, New Delhi
For Richa Agnihotri, 39, mid-life crisis came with an extended definition when a TV show declared her financially unfit. She says: “We filled out a form giving out our financial details. What seemed to be a fun exercise actually came to haunt us as it pointed out the glaring mismatch between our income and expenditure.” From thereon, it was difficult for the Agnihotri family to ignore the shortcomings in their finances.
Tax-saving investments Says Agnihotri: “We used to maximize our section 80C investments. But then the focus was on saving tax and our choice of investment avenues was limited to what our friends and family suggested.” So, the family had piled up insurance policies that offered neither sufficient insurance nor efficient returns. “These were mostly money-back policies,” says Agnihotri.
No equity exposure Her portfolio had one basic shortcoming: There was no equity exposure and for her age and her goals, an equity thrust was required. The other option was to increase their saving exponentially. That would not have been viable since her husband Sandeep, a dermatologist, had his own clinic running and a part of savings was used up there.
Solution one: Initially, Agnihotri, who is an educationalist, thought of taking matters in her own hands and began to dabble in equities through the mutual fund route. “I bought some infrastructure funds which I realized were a bad choice,” she says. At this point, she thought of taking help of a financial consultant.
Solution two: Surya Bhatia, a Delhi-based financial planner, happened to the Agnihotris more than a year back when recession was lurking around the corner. The couple once again undertook the form-filling soul-searching exercise. But this time around they didn’t have only problems to confront. They had solutions, too. The best part was they were attainable.
Says Agnihotri: “If you have goals, it makes a huge difference. Earlier, we picked up policies in the name of our children but we didn’t have any goals. I have no idea whether what we picked up was good enough to deliver at the time of need.”
But having a planner made her aware of the importance of setting a goal and working towards it. “Goals put everything in perspective as all you need to do then is work backwards. I was amazed how clarity on my goals and time horizon made investment choice so easy,” she says. Now Agnihotri has a diversified portfolio and is constantly expanding her equity canvass. “I don’t really have to worry whether I am making the right choice. It is like having a financial doctor. The minute I hear a news development all I have to do is call Surya. We do a session on why I should invest and for what,” she smiles. From no goals, the Agnihotris are now working towards goals such as their children’s higher education, marriage and their own retirement.