Wise Wealth Advisors

D.Muthukrishnan (Muthu), Certified Financial Planner- Personal Financial Advisor

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Archive for the ‘Weekend Jottings’ Category

Weekend Jottings

Posted by Muthu on July 10, 2011

I was unable to write to you for last two weeks due to hectic pressure on personal front. 

I would like to thank once again for all the calls, emails and sms’es conveying your wishes and blessings for Vedanth. 

I go to my MIL’s house everyday and just keep observing Vedanth. Simply watching him for hours is a matter of joy. 

I’m pleased to inform you that ‘Business Standard’ interviewed me last week and posted some of my thoughts in one of their article. 

In between my last posting and this, ‘Nanayam Vikatan’ also published my contribution for two Q&As.

I’m thankful to all those in media who continue to provide me an opportunity.

I do not discriminate while choosing to work with clients. However I’m little wary of dealing with people from certain professions. Politics is definitely one such (is politics a business or profession? I would laugh if the answer is social work.). Even when I got a chance to meet politicians earlier, I’ve politely declined such opportunities. Politicians normally have a coterie around them who keep praising them to the skies. When one is used to hearing such praises every day, they start believing what they hear.

They demand that to be treated like kings (aren’t we living in a democracy?) and make you feel that it is your rare privilege to have come in contact with them.

Referred by a good friend and client of mine; I met a politician last week, who claims to have closer access to a very prominent politician. He said that he is very philosophical and very humble. I could sense what he said is not what he is. He did lot of name dropping (who’s who of the society) and the power he wields on various matters in his party. He said that sages like Ramana are split personalities and did not have the clarity he possesses. I’m least bothered about what he thinks of Ramana but there was no need for him to show his spiritual superiority and authority to a person who is visiting him for a professional purpose.

Though I met him to advice on his personal finance, I received lot of unsolicited advice right from my health to what meditation I should do. When one is powerful, he thinks he is an expert in all fields.

Also professional advice can be given to people who are receptive. Nothing much can be shared with those who claims to know everything.

Probably he expected me to praise him a lot; which I didn’t do. He may be the leader for his cadres or those who seek personal benefits and favours from his association. I don’t need any. All I expect is to have a client-advisor relationship.

Probably he expected me to keep following up with him to become his advisor. I wrote to him what my thoughts are and if he is willing to enter into a professional relationship like everyone else; he is most welcome. Otherwise, he would definitely find someone else who would admire his leadership and be thankful for the rare opportunity of becoming his advisor.

Interestingly even a retired middle class gentleman without benefits like pension makes it a point to pay my fees. The above politician said that he would pay me. So far he hasn’t. May be he would. Or is it difficult to receive money from this elite class? I’ve mentally written off the fees and I would consider as a bonus if I receive money from him. I’m thankful that I was not charged a fee for meeting him. Interesting personality!

We’ve been building our professions purely through referrals. In the initial years, even when clients were hard to come by, I was very clear that I would not make any cold calls and seek appointments. I’ve never made a single cold call till date. I’ve nothing against people making cold calls and acquire clients. It’s a perfectly legitimate way of marketing. It’s just that I wanted to follow referral model in building my profession.

I only make follow-up with my existing clients; that too only when they ask for or I feel the necessity in a given situation.

I’m not a courageous person by nature and can easily fall prey to fear and anxiety. So I some time wonder what gives me strength to hold on to my convictions both in personal and professional spheres.

Some time last year, a strong feeling entered into my thick skull. It is that everything in one’s life and in this world is pre-determined or happens according to the will of God. However despite meeting best of astrologers, one may not be able to know what is pre-determined. I think it would be always that way. Human mind or intelligence cannot conceive the workings of universe and the source behind it.

As we do not know and may never know what has been pre-determined, So I think I need to act what I consider appropriate in a given situation, at the same time keeping in the back of my mind what I do and the result of what I do is as per God’s will.

I’m not saying that my above thinking is the absolute truth. It may be a mere concept. Right or wrong, that is how I feel.

However this attitude is very helpful practically for a person like me with some negative personality traits like anxiety, easy irritability and at times being a short fuse.

This makes it relatively easier to handle ups and downs, which would always be there.

It is not that I don’t worry now. I do. But I don’t worry about my worry! I don’t compound my negative traits. They are there and I’m o.k. with it.

I enjoy working with my clients and I’m thankful to those who have chosen to work with us. I’m confident that people who see value in us would come to us and stay with us.

I deal with client’s money or situation as to how I would deal with my own or what I sincerely believe to be appropriate for the given situation. I think this is our core strength. I don’t know if this is my personality trait or the influence of Buffett or both.

I don’t want to say that I’m in this profession to help the society. I enjoy what I do and I’m thankful that I get paid for the same.

By end of this year, it would be 5 years since we’ve been in this profession. I was not from financial services industry and did not carry any existing relationships or database when I started on my own. Though I used to worry about future, still I was clear with the values with which I would run my profession.

I’m grateful to all of you who helped me survive and grow in this profession. This is a positive reinforcement that a referral model can also work well in this profession. Thanks to all those who had conviction to refer us to someone else.

We would never change our value system and compromise our approach.

The interesting thing I observe is that when one is ready to fail; even an anxious person like me gets confidence. Probably when one wants to be successful and is not ready to face failure; even a confident person can become very anxious!

Ten years ago, I never even imagined I would be doing what I’m doing now. I don’t know what I would be 10 years down the line. I’m no longer even bothered about it. All I can do is to trust life and take one step at a time.

Posted in Media, Weekend Jottings | Leave a Comment »

Weekend Jottings

Posted by Muthu on May 29, 2011

Suffering from fever for last 2 weeks. I was able to manage the first week by not skipping any activity. For the last one week, I’m operating from home. Some tests have been taken yesterday and results need to be shown to Doctor tomorrow. The annual tests I take just to be sure that what is inside is fine (I’m not talking about brain!) as I use pain killers regularly for migraine were also done yesterday.

With phone, email, web access and efficient staff, all activities are going smoothly except that I’ve rescheduled some appointments.

Since the coming week would be hectic both on personal and official fronts, request that any personal meetings may be planned in the week beginning June 6th.

I get many queries from people who visit our blogs as to why don’t I post something everyday. My blog is a repository of what I write to my clients and I don’t blog perse. I’ve been writing to you ever since I had only handful of clients. Since some of you suggested, what I write may be useful for others too and would also help me get some visibility; I started posting what I share with you.

I would like to keep writing to you atleast once a week, possibly twice.

I also get atleast few calls a month regularly from fellow professionals across the country that they find what I write useful to them too. This definitely gives me a sense of satisfaction.

From my experience with few voluntary associations of professionals, I see that some office bearers feel threatened when their point of view or opinion is challenged. When people run professional associations, they should be ready for different views and allow space for the same. In their personal portals or organizations, they can put only their views; when it comes to associations, they should be open enough. It is not their kingdom!

In that sense, I appreciate politicians. Whatever said and done, it needs lot of mental strength to face volley of criticisms from different quarters on a daily basis. Or probably one needs different kind of skin to be in politics?

Talking about politics, I really appreciate ‘Cho’ Ramaswamy. Politics – State, National and International- always interest me and I’ve never missed voting for a single assembly, parliamentary or even panchayat polls in the last 2 decades; thanks to Rajiv Gandhi who made the voters age as 18 years and passed away shortly before I casted my first vote.

‘Cho’ is one of the key architects in bringing change of governments in our state both in 1996 and 2011. Though I’ve not always agreed with his views, his intelligence, courage, sticking to his views despite lot of criticism merits admiration. This is more so in the context of castiest colour given for any political opinion. One would also remember how he has always been strongly critical of LTTE even when they had lot of support in Tamilnadu.Lotof guts is required to take such a stand, if one considers the fate of people who took a similar stance.

His 4 decade old political satire ‘Mohammad  Bin Tughlaq’ continues to be applicable to our country even now, probably for a long time to come.

In the last 20 years, I feel that we had good governments in 1996-2001 and 2001-2006. Ten good years for the state, though different parties ruled in the 2 tenures. I hope that we can expect development to be the core agenda of the new government. Tamilnadu has grown relatively better than lot other states on various fronts, despite politicians; because of the social revolution happened in the last century. If development becomes our agenda, I think we would do much better.

I’ve mentioned about U.G.Krishnamurti before and have also cautioned that those who would be hurt by profanity may avoid reading him. I thought of sharing some of his words of wisdom, which does not contain anything profane.

1)  All I can guarantee you is that as long as you are searching for happiness, you will remain unhappy.

2)  You mistakenly believe that by pursuing the spiritual goal you will somehow miraculously make your material goals simple and manageable.

3)  The plain fact is that if you don’t have a problem, you create one. If you don’t have a problem you don’t feel that you are living.

4)  It is not love, compassion, humanism or brotherly sentiments that will save mankind. It is the sheer terror of extinction that can save us, if anything can. Soon we will all come to know one simple thing; if I try to destroy you, I will also be destroyed.

5) You may accept yourself and others as you and they are because they cannot and will not change, nor can you.

6) We being what we are, the world cannot be any different.

7) Our whole existence revolves around selling and buying, and that includes our spiritual ideas.

8) Religious authority wants to continue its hold on people, but religion is entirely an individual affair.

9) Harsh fact is the greatest teacher. It is that which will spur you into action.

10) No one is sent by anybody to change anything in this world. No special mandate is given to anybody.

11) If there is a war going on with in us, we cannot expect a peaceful world around us. We will certainly create wars.

12) There are moments of happiness and there are moments of unhappiness. There is no such thing as permanent happiness.

13) Wanting any pleasure to last forever is pain.

14) The destructive, war making movement and the humanitarian movement on the other hand are both born from the same source.

15) My interest is to point out to you that you can walk, and please throw away all those crutches. If you are really handicapped, I wouldn’t advise you to do any such thing. But you are made to feel by other people that you are handicapped so that they could sell you those crutches. Throw them away and you can walk. That’s all that I can say. ‘If I fall….’ – that is your fear. Put the crutches away, and you are not going to fall.

16) A real guru, if there is one, frees you from himself.

17) There has been no qualitative change in man’s thinking; we feel about our neighbours just as the frightened caveman felt towards his. The only thing that has changed is our ability to destroy our neighbour and his property.

18) It is the ones who believe in God, who preach peace and talk of love, who have created the human jungle. Compared to man’s jungle, nature’s jungle is simple and sensible! In nature animals don’t kill their own kind. That is part of the beauty of nature. In this regard man is worse than the other animals. The so-called “civilized” man kills for ideals and beliefs, while the animals kill only for survival.

Posted in Weekend Jottings | Leave a Comment »

Weekend Jottings

Posted by Muthu on April 10, 2011

First, few lines about regional and national media. 

In today’s Nanayam Vikatan, my contribution has appeared in the Q&A section. 

As I’ve told you earlier, Nanayam Vikatan is the largest selling personal finance magazine in Tamilnadu.

It is surprising to note that they saw a potential market for personal finance magazine among Tamil readers. I understand that their circulation numbers are on par with leading English personal finance magazine, having wider geographical access.

They are the first one to provide me an opportunity in media and I’m thankful that they are continuing to provide the same for the last few years.

In another Tamil magazine, my interview regarding China may appear next month. Do not wonder whether I’ve become a geo-political analyst. The journalist thought I’ve something worth while to say!

Along with one Tamil journalist, we are working on the financial impact on electoral promises by various political parties. It is interesting to calculate (for valuing freebies) how many women are in marriageable age in Tamilnadu, how many would be in the family way, how many goats are required, their availability and cost etc. I hope the article may get published. Even otherwise, a very funny (and not so funny for state’s finances) exercise.

I’ve already mentioned you earlier this week about Ms.Sucheta Dalal and Mr.Debashis Basu. They do a lot of work in the areas of investor awareness and protection. They publish a magazine called Moneylife. Their portal is www.moneylife.in . Those of you interested can subscribe to their daily free newsletter, delivered to your email box, which contains articles and news in the areas of personal finance.

I’ve got wisdom! That’s what my dentist told me. Not one but 3 wisdom teeth. One has been removed this weekend. Seeing me so scared, the dentist would have been more scared, but he did not show it.

The remaining 2 has to be taken in due course by surgical extraction. I’m going to loose the precious wisdom gained after few decades of existence in this planet.

So this weekend is a time to talk about some wisdom.

I increasingly feel that luck and chance determine our life.

Call it God or destiny or randomness or cosmic intelligence- I feel it governs our life.

Let me start with 2 quotes – one from an investment legend and the other from a great scientist.

Warren Buffett: If rich think that they did it all themselves, reincarnate them as one of the five children of a scared, starving mother in Mali and see how rich and successful they would be after being sent to work as a slave on cocoa plantation in Cote d’ Ivoire.

Albert Einstein: Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.

Though it may not sound good to our ears, incidentally both Stephen Hawking and U.G.Krishnamurti calls human beings a programmed biological forms.

Hawking mentions that ‘Humans have no more choice or freewill than the determinate procession of the sun, moon, planets, or seasons.

I’ve developed a strong conviction that what I go through, good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, pleasure or pain, happiness or misery, joy or anxiety, anger or compassion, fair or unfair etc., everything is as per the will of God.

I do not see God as a person sitting somewhere and keep tracking my good and bad deeds to see whether I would fit into heaven or hell.

I feel that God is the supreme consciousness or cosmic intelligence.

It is not that I’ve become a wonderful person with this conviction. May be that is not part of the design!

I’m what I am with my own anxieties, guilt, irritation, contradictions and paradoxes. It is just that despite all these there is a space in mind which gets peace through acceptance.

The identification with body and mind, which we call as ‘Ego’ is also part of grand design. So ego would be very much part of one’s relationship with outside world.

Then how to live one’s life?

The way to live is to act as if we are the doer. Life would not leave us alone and would keep forcing us to act and react. We need to do or not do what we feel appropriate in a given situation. But what we feel at a given situation is not under our control, though we all may feel so.

Ramesh Balsekar explain this better “The human being lives on fictions. For example, the human being knows that the sun is stationery and that it is earth that is in movement but nonetheless in his daily life he accepts the fiction that sun rises and sets. So the understanding is that all this is an illusion and that you do not have free will, but in life you must act as if you have free will‘.

Ramana went to the extent of pointing out that one cannot even lift his hand unless it is destined!

Benjamin Libet was a pioneering scientist in the field of human consciousness.

His research shows that brain’s impulse to act happen up to a half a second before the person even is conscious of it.

These experiments seem to show that we don’t think but thoughts come to us. The decision to do or not do something is already made even before we become aware of the same.

If you’ve scientific temper, browse what Einstein, Hawking and Libet has to say regarding free will.

If you’re religious, take a look at what Ramana, Nisrgadatta and Ramesh Balsekar has got to say on this subject.

If you can put up with profanity, try U.G.Krishnamurti.

Out of the all, the last gentleman is extremely difficult to digest and you can even get wild at me for suggesting his name. If possible, please avoid him.

Due to Monday blues, if you go to office late tomorrow, tell your boss it’s all part of destiny.

If the reaction is going to be adverse, be ready for that part of destiny too!

Posted in Weekend Jottings | 2 Comments »

Weekend Jottings

Posted by Muthu on March 27, 2011

Why can’t you be serious? 

Some one asked this question to me few days ago.

The instant answer came to me was that I can be sincere but not serious.

When you take yourself less seriously, then probably it percolates down to other things too.

It is not that life is easy. It is difficult and can be tragic too. But by being very serious about it, one more layer of complexity is only added.

I don’t have answer to life’s problems including my own. Life has more questions than answers. I stopped seeking answers. I just don’t care.

I no longer ask profound questions such as what is the meaning of life. Each individual has to find out his own meaning to live his life. There is no broader meaning.

Ofcourse there is a whole industry out there which not only promises a broader meaning to life but also offer methods and guides to achieve the same.

I don’t want to improve upon this world. Neither the world owes anything to me nor do I owe something to the world. It is just that I happened to be here, till I last.

Though there is a moment of satisfaction when someone comes and tell me that he has benefited because of me, I don’t take it beyond that.

Some wants to know who would advice them if I die! I wonder why I get such questions. Why me? Probably something is written on my face which I’m unable to see in the mirror? Or is it 7 ½ years Sani I’m going through?

There are enough and more advisors who are there and would be born to help them out when my time to leave this planet comes. Or may be I would continue advising them through Ouija board. They may contact ‘Aavi’ Amudha for further guidance.

I get emails from many unknown people these days. Some of the mails I get make me think that there are people out there who have ample time at their disposal than me.

One gentleman wrote to me that he wants my advice to become ‘Warren Buffett’ of India and is willing to pay me ‘any fee’ for it. All I can tell him is that I can pay him back one rupee more than what I receive from him, if he can help me become one.

Someone wanted to reach stars through investing. I told him that I’m figuring my way out to climb a tree.

I’m only a personal financial advisor. I neither have any magic formula nor am I a born genius like Warren Buffett.

Or probably these people should be approaching evangelists who lectures or writes about ‘create visualization’, the ‘secret’ to achieve anything by thinking about or desiring it. One should never ask a question why they need to make a living only through sharing this secret of visualization instead of themselves achieving what they want.

By the bye, as I mentioned earlier when I mistakenly purchased some old copies of ‘Frozen Thoughts’ last year, they were promptly sold back to a waste paper merchant. I also purchased then ‘The Unposted Letter’. I paid Rs.350/- for the same. No, I’m not regretting. If I start regretting I’ve to regret for ever so many things in life. I’ve to dedicate the rest of my life for it.

I’ve an offer. I understand that the author of the book has good following. Any good hearted soul can meet me and obtain the copy I’ve for just Rs.100/-. Hurry this offer lasts only till someone makes up his mind. You be that early bird!

Now a days, I mostly avoid or minimise ‘self help’ or ‘how to’ books. A ‘Self help’ book is to help the author who has no other way of financially helping himself.

Interestingly I read in ‘Simple Fly’ by Captain G.R.Gopinath, John Grey of ‘Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus’ fame (and many others titles that followed the same) availed a charted trip from Deccan to visit a Godman to offer his gratitude for answering his prayer of making his books into best seller list.

Talking about self help and psychologists!

Now I also understand why in clinics they have somebody sitting to ensure that the money is paid by the patients before they leave. Doctors are more practical than others. Not only they know the human anatomy, they also understand human nature.

In the last few months, I’ve encountered instances where some people forgot to bring money though they have been told about the consultation fee in advance. Almost all of them have promptly paid me subsequently. But a negligible few simply choose to disappear. It is not that I cannot follow up with him. But I feel better off not having such clients.

So I write them off- not as bad debts – but as ‘Vidya Dhaan’.

One young man called me 2 weeks ago and wanted an appointment for 2 hours. I told him my fee. He wanted to know what if he is not satisfied with my consultation. Why then he should pay for the same?

I told him that this is the first lesson in risk he needs to understand. Life does not come with any guarantee. I’ve no intention of providing any money back offer. I also quizzed, has he not come out of a consultation with a Doctor unsatisfied. Was he able to take this line of argument for not paying the Doctor?

Then he changed his line of argument and said that if I don’t charge him any fee, he would bring many of his friends to me. I asked him again what if all his friends also going to say the same thing. I would end up providing free service to many instead of one!

May be he will come back with a fresh proposal and I need to figure a way out for countering the same.

Posted in Weekend Jottings | Leave a Comment »

Weekend Jottings

Posted by Muthu on February 20, 2011

A friend of mine called me a ‘rationalist’ last month and he was quite happy to name me like that because he probably considers himself one.

Well, he has created a problem for himself by labelling me such.

My dear friend, recently I had an interesting session with an astrologer. By saying this I know that I might have come down a bit in your eyes. But you see I never claimed to be a rationalist and if you infer something on your own, you are responsible for your perception.

Long ago I studied some basics of astrology (most of which are forgotten by now) and met numerous astrologers. Most of the prominent astrologers are much worse than the technical analysts, whose job is to predict stock markets on a daily basis. I’m fine with taking up many jobs but definitely not this one. If forced to predict market on a daily basis, I would prefer to take a begging bowl.

Through a friend of mine, I met an old gentleman few years ago. I was told that he is most sought after by certain community and some of the celebrities. You may not know his name as there have been no advertisements, media coverage or web presence for him. But he is known to lot of people and has quite a respect among them. My friend is one such.

From the above meeting, he came across to me as a sincere practitioner of astrology and I carried a good impression about him. He told few things (quite correctly) which other astrologers have never told me.

Last week, I suddenly felt like meeting him. Usually it takes few weeks to months (if he is travelling) to get his appointment. When I called him, he told me that someone has just conveyed their inability to meet that evening due to an exigency and if interested I can meet him.

It was a long drive. He has constructed a temple and lives in a house in the same complex. He doesn’t know English.

I was invited to his room without any waiting.

I started discussing few things about astrology. I told him if astrology is true, ‘pariharams’ should be false. If destiny can be changed, then it does not exist at all in the first place.

He said that destiny is true but ‘pariharams’ to change it are false. He opined that many use it to earn money. Some genuine astrologers may suggest the same as a mode of giving psychological relief, though they know in their heart that no one’s destiny can be changed including that of divine spirits and Gods!

I asked him whether he has done any pariharam for himself. He replied in negative and said that all he can know is that he is going to get into bad time but can do nothing about it. This knowledge helps him to mentally prepare himself to go through bad times and not get very excited during good times.

Looks like all Pariharams, Vaasthu, Numerology, wearing gems etc. are more for Placebo effect.

However he does suggest Pariharams to some people to instill hope!

Without naming, he indicated that some prominent politicians, who were unhappy with him for being candid, later came and literally fell at his feet impressed with his accurate reading of their charts.

I neither fell at his feet nor did he expect me to do so.

He said that he believes in being candid but try to be as soft as possible on negative things.

The discussion continued some more time on certain aspects of astrology. It was interesting.

He asked me to show the charts of myself and my wife and use the opportunity to ask what all answers I need from him.

He is getting very old and the age is catching up with him. He appeared tired.

I asked him about a dozen questions and he answered everything patiently in detail.

He also gave explanation for my non ritualistic and sceptical nature but said that I’ve tremendous amount of faith in God.

He did not suggest me any Pariharams!

We had a discussion on philosophy too for some time. I was surprised by the time he chose to spend with me.

Interestingly he found me to be trustable and good on money matters (I never thought mighty planets and celestial stars would opine such way!) and sought some opinion.

He seemed to be satisfied with my inputs.

I still have mixed opinion about the predictability of future even by genuine astrologers. At the same time I cannot deny my curiosity on this subject.

I’ve made it a point long back NOT to take decisions based on what astrologers say. If what they say is true, it would any how happen whether I go by what they say or otherwise. Isn’t it? This is the real test for astrology.

One thing I can tell. Of all the astrologers I’ve met in life so far, this man appears genuine. I cannot and do not want to vouch for accuracy of his predictions.

For those of you interested in reading about astrology- of many books I’ve read, the easy to understand and good one is that of autobiography of B.V.Raman. I’ve great respect for B.V.Raman, who is one of the greatest astrologers of the last century.

One gentleman who visited our portal and clicked the link U.G. (under Links) felt very upset. He found it difficult to swallow. I simply advised him not to read.

I like U.G. One can know better about him by reading books written about him than by reading his conversations. All the books are available for free in web. He claims no copyright and is fine with anybody reproducing or distorting his ‘teachings’ in the way one wants.

He passed away only few years ago. Had I met him, he would have probably thrown me out and I might have yelled at him for the same. Luckily neither happened.

As I mentioned in the beginning about my rationalist friend, the problem starts when you affix a label of your choice to someone. People are dynamic and so do labels. I don’t believe in ‘inflexible self’.

A decade ago when I had a crisis in my life I did not mind taking opinion from a pontiff and a famous lawyer who is an atheist and was publicly against the pontiff. Both knew that I’m in touch with the other. But both helped me their best.

My health has not been good for more than a month. So my wife is writing ‘Sri Ramajayam’ regularly everyday for my sake. I’m grateful for her concern and care.

If the tables are turned, I would definitely not write ‘Sri Ramajayam’ for her because I’ve zero inclination for the same. My way of expressing care would be different.

Recently when I was speaking to a friend of mine who is also a physician, I opined that the important thing in life is to learn to live with paradoxes both inside and outside us.

These paradoxes are irreconcible and do not follow any logic or reason.

Who said life is all about only logic and reason?

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