I am out for a Saturday lunch with the husband and his friend. They meet regularly to argue over whether RD (Burman, not recurring deposit) was God. They almost cause a riot arguing about Bappi Lahiri (don’t even ask). Soon, sanity comes along with the food and the conversation turns to the friend’s portfolio (thank you, God). He is using some adviser who floats around in his office and seems pretty happy with him. I ask a few questions and feeling a bit like Gregory House (those who watch the TV series House will get the reference), I set out to destroy his warm, fuzzy feelings towards a guy who is obviously incompetent.
For many reasons, it is good that life insurance firms are opting for initial public offerings (IPOs). Big IPOs lead to market depth—crucial now for India because household money is finally coming to equities through institutions. It is also good for those tracking this industry because listings will encourage more public scrutiny of insurance firms through analysts covering the sector, through institutional investors such as mutual funds and pension funds, and products from this industry itself such as the unit-linked insurance plans (Ulips). It will be interesting to see which equity Ulips buy into what life insurance company stocks. Then there is the public debate that takes place around an IPO and its merits.
This is the new inflation target for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), with a floor of 2% and a ceiling of 6%. Remember that one of the reasons for inflation, or a rise in the prices, is that governments borrow too much to fund expenses.
We fined Wells Fargo a historic $100 million for the illegal practice of secretly opening hundreds of thousands of unauthorised deposit and credit card accounts.”
Log in to the home page of the US watchdog Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ , a government agency set up to ensure that consumers of financial products are treated fairly by banks and other lenders, and you see this as the top featured story.
What’s the Wells Fargo story and why is it relevant to us? Wells Fargo is one of the biggest banks in the US, and is known to be an aggressive cross-seller of financial products. Cross-selling is something we’re all familiar with—you have a savings account with a bank and it pushes other products at you: loans, funds, insurance, cards.
Imagine this. You need to pay your life insurance premium today. You’d like to check how much of your home loan is still left. You want to start one more systematic investment plan. You want to pay your credit card bill. You want to make a contribution to your Public Provident Fund (PPF) account. You want to check the balance in your Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) account. You want to check when your car insurance is due. To do all of these you may just call your financial planner (who you pay a nice hefty fee each year for these servicers), or you could log in to multiple sites, put in 10 different usernames, remember 10 passwords. Two of the 10 sites will make you change your password. Some may have an error message. Some transactions won’t go through. And 2 hours later, you will be frustrated and cursing this clunky financial world we inhabit.