The Humble Beginnings
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, I stand today as a testament to Hope Solo’s words that “my life is a beautiful struggle”. Born and raised in Mumbai, my early days were spent getting my hands dirty as a car mechanic. With each passing day, I discovered new facets of life and found myself constantly evolving, transitioning into multiple roles – from working in a BPO to becoming a SEBI Registered Investment Advisor.
Guided by Swami Vivekananda’s profound wisdom, “In a day devoid of problems, you can be certain that you are on the wrong path,” I embraced every challenge with positivity and an unwavering resolve to overcome it.
The Path Less Travelled
Family circumstances and financial constraints steered me towards acquiring a Diploma in Automobile Engineering. This led to a series of jobs in various car garages in Lower Parel, Mumbai. It was here that I learned the true value of money and the significance of hard work. Despite minimal financial backing and a restlessness to achieve more, I took a leap of faith and started my own automobile shop in Guledagudd, my hometown nestled in northern Karnataka.
However, life had other plans. The small-town dynamics and fierce competition led to the failure of my first entrepreneurial venture.
A New Chapter Begins
With limited resources and dreams bigger than my reality, I sought solace and guidance in the teachings of Swami Vivekananda and the Bhagavad Gita. It was during this time that I stumbled upon the opportunity to become an LIC agent, a venture that required no upfront investment. Thus, in 2003, I dove headfirst into selling insurance with whatever knowledge I could gather.
As my interest in finance grew, so did my desire to improve my English language skills. I turned to English newspapers and soon discovered the world of Certified Financial Planners (CFP).
Exploring New Opportunities
After moving to Bangalore with my brother who landed a job in the IT industry, I found myself working in a BPO firm. Simultaneously, I continued selling LIC products over the weekends. As I delved deeper into the world of finance, I ventured into Mutual Fund distribution in 2008.
The introduction of direct funds by SEBI left me at crossroads, questioning the trajectory of my career. I also realized that selling was not my true calling; instead, I yearned to share my knowledge and grow my business beyond product sales.
Turning Points and Transformation
In a serendipitous encounter in 2009, I met Manish Chauhan from Jagoinvestor. An employee of Yahoo and a CFP in the making, he became the catalyst for my ambition. His guidance about the CFP program inspired me to enrol in the course.
The CFP curriculum was a revelation, covering extensive subjects that were alien to me due to my limited experience in finance. However, with the help of a mentor in Bangalore, I successfully completed all the CFP modules at the first attempt.
The Road Ahead
By 2011, I had successfully obtained my CFP certification. But with a small client base and limited contacts, I faced the challenge of finding clients who could afford my services. Undeterred, I decided to start a blog and share the knowledge I had acquired over the years, marking yet another milestone in my journey.
And so, the journey continues, with each day bringing with it new challenges, new learnings, and new opportunities. As I reflect on my past, I am reminded that indeed, my life is a beautiful struggle.
Stepping Into the Unknown
In the face of self-doubt and limited English proficiency, I took a leap of faith in 2011 that would forever change the course of my life. Leaving behind a secure job in a BPO, I embarked on a journey to become a full-time financial planner. It was a risk, but one driven by an unwavering belief in myself and a keen desire to carve out my own niche in the world of finance.
An Unconventional Start
My initiation into the field started with writing blog posts about personal finance, dipping my toes into mutual fund transactions, and offering financial planning services. Despite initial setbacks with LIC and mutual fund businesses – primarily owing to my distaste for salesy tactics – my professional journey took a positive turn in 2013 when SEBI introduced RIA (Registered Investment Advisor) regulations.
Hurdles on the Path
In 2015, I made a bold move to register as an RIA with SEBI. Yet, despite having the necessary experience and certifications, my application was turned down due to my lack of a graduation degree. Not one to be disheartened, I pursued my degree through distance education, successfully completing it in 2018. With degree in hand, I reapplied for SEBI RIA registration, which was promptly approved.
Building Trust and Attracting Clients
Following the introduction of my fixed-fee-only service, I was flooded with clients. This response was a testament to the loyal reader base I had cultivated since 2011 through my blog posts and the trust I had earned over time. This trust, built on impartial advice and consistent engagement, played a crucial role in attracting clients seeking financial planning services.
Reflecting on the Journey
Today, as I look back on a journey punctuated by challenges, failures, and invaluable lessons, I feel grateful. I owe much to a handful of mentors who guided me, shaping my life and helping me attain a level of success I once only dreamed of. Their guidance not only led me to financial independence but also contributed to my holistic growth.
I offer heartfelt thanks to all those who encouraged and inspired me, including Swami Vivekananda and a host of financial experts whose writings left an indelible mark on my journey. Names like Benjamin Graham, Nassim Taleb, Jason Zweig, John Bogle, Jim Otar, Morgan Housel, Daniel Kahneman, and Carl Richard, among others, have greatly influenced my path.
Success Through Trust
Since 2018, my fixed-fee-only service has been met with positivity and encouragement. The trust I have garnered among my readers and clients has been instrumental in this success. As a small-town garage mechanic, the dream of achieving financial freedom and guiding others to the same would have remained just that – a dream – without this trust.
A Prolific Writer and Trusted Advisor
Today, I have penned over 900 blog posts on personal finance, earning a spot among the top 10 personal finance blogs in India. Coupled with a subscriber base of 10,000, a Twitter following of 10,000, and 5,000 Facebook followers, I have created a substantial online presence.
Prioritizing Conflict-Free Advice
Despite SEBI’s allowance for flexible fee structures, I chose the fixed fee-only model for its transparency and conflict-free nature. Adopting this model ensured my clients received 100% unbiased advice, leaving no room for doubt or concern.
The Power of Client-Centric Approach
While there were doubts about the viability of the fixed fee model in India, I held steadfast in my belief that a client-centric approach, combined with unbiased advice and trust, would yield positive outcomes. This belief has proven true since its inception in 2018.
Making Waves in the Media
Over the years, I have had the privilege of appearing on several television programs, contributing articles to various magazines, and seeing my story featured in mainstream financial media.
For more details, you can visit the “Media” page of my blog.
PATH TO SUCCCESS