It was reported earlier this week in this newspaper that the insurance regulator is considering allowing portability in life insurance products. You can read the story here. I’m going to unpack what this means and whether it is possible to ‘port’ an insurance product. First, what is portability? When we think of a telecom service, then switching service providers from say, Airtel to Jio, is portability. Your number and basic services remain the same, but you switch your service provider. S.S. Mudra, deputy governor at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), had suggested last year that bank account numbers become fully portable. You can read the story here. While bank account number portability is yet to happen, the logic is clear—our phone numbers and bank accounts are linked to multiple services we use. Often we stay with the service providers or banks out of inertia.
Why do the world’s most value-for-money people choose a pre-tax 4% return on the money that they leave in their savings deposits? It is the twin advantage of safety and liquidity that makes people love their savings deposits. But an aggressive mutual fund industry is using new products and processes to offer alternatives to these deposits, and is taking the battle for the share of the household savings right to the door of banks. Remember that mutual funds have product categories that can look after most of your money management needs—from liquid money to building and milking retirement funds. Last week, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) announced a series of rule changes that make it safer and easier for investors to shift from a bank savings deposit to a liquid fund and allow people to use their e-wallets to invest in funds.
Are you thinking of investing in a debt fund? If data is any indicator, you may be already there because the assets under management of debt-oriented funds held by non-HNI (high net-worth individuals) retail investors have jumped by just over 40%, as on 31 March 2017, over the previous year to reach around Rs67,000 crore. As bank deposit interest rates fall, investors begin to look for better return options. This has coincided with rising awareness about the efficiency of the mutual fund vehicle to offer a full basket of products for instant to very long-term needs. Along with the awareness have come products and fintech solutions that now allow instant access to some parts of your money. Once on-boarded and linked to an online platform or app, mutual fund investing is a breeze.
Has your mutual fund agent, adviser, wealth manager, or whatever he calls himself, asked you to ‘switch’ from one scheme to another? A friend recently WhatsApped me, asking if it was okay to ‘switch’ schemes in the same fund house. Her mutual fund agent advised her to move from an under-performing fund to an out-performing one. He also told her that he does not earn any commission on the ‘switch’. He then moved her from a large-cap fund of the fund house to a similar scheme of the same fund house. I asked her to check with him again: did he earn any commission on the ‘switch’? Ask for a commission statement. She called back furious. Yes, he does earn from the ‘switch’ and no, he had not shown the statement before she insisted that he disclose it. She was surprised to see what he was earning.
Video of why women should take control of their money lives
and what questions to ask.
I wanted some stuff and so dropped by the nearby mall a few weeks back. I like walking in a mall. It is clean, safe, there are loos unlike in most market places in India and you don’t really need to buy anything—the buzz of happy people all around is free. Buy guys, we need to grow at 8% GDP!
On this day, I’m surprised to see all the well-dressed women. Then I notice that many are wearing red. It takes ecstatic couples taking pictures around a Taj Mahal replica made fully of roses, and it clicks into place. Ah! Valentine’s’ day! So many happy people! While people have fun on this day, there is another day that I actually want to talk about.