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4 things today's investors are looking for from their advisorsAjit Menon, PGIM India AM, Mumbai

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PGIM India continues its strong advocacy on retirement planning in India with another edition of its Retirement Readiness Survey – the first one after the pandemic. Indians are now a lot more focused on financial security, they are more careful about spending on big ticket purchases, they seethe need for saving and investing wisely.

People plan only for happy outcomes. Children’s future is seen as a happy outcome, “retirement” not necessarily so. Changing the conversation from retirement to financial freedom – a trend that many MFDs have already adopted – will go a long way in getting Indians to willingly save for that goal.

Second income has become a bigger priority for Indians and many are looking at sharpening/learning some skills to generate this. MFDs should take a cue from this need and pitch for second income / passive income plans.

Goal planning is a function of surpluses – people proactively look for goal based investment plans only when their surpluses are increasing. This augurs very well for all distributors and advisors, given the rapid rise in household incomes in India and the larger proportions available for discretionary spending and saving.

Only one-third of survey respondents take retirement planning advice from any form of expert and of these, the majority get their inputs from insurance agents and bank RMs. Little wonder that insurance policies and bank FDs continue to be the two most popular choices of products for retirement planning.

MFDs/IFAs score lower in the pecking order of experts and while MFs as a product choice is increasing appreciably among all options, they are still way behind traditional choices.

A worrying factor is that if people who believe they have received retirement guidance are investing in insurance policies and bank FDs, their retirement plans most likely haven’t factored in retirement income on a post-tax, post-inflation basis – else they would not be investing in products that don’t preserve the purchasing power of their corpus over 20-30 years of retired life. There is a huge level of mis-understanding among Indian savers on what a retirement plan ought to cover – and urgent steps are needed to address this critical gap on a war footing.

Can AMFI perhaps take up this issue and spread awareness of real returns and real retirement planning through its MFSI initiative?

Survey respondents have also clearly spelt out what they are looking for from their financial advisors/guides: (1)ability to offer multiple products and services (2) professionalism in their conduct (3) appropriate qualifications/certifications to give comfort on technical expertise and (4)willingness to share the workload of managing their finances as opposed to merely distributing products. For all MFDs, this should serve as a great reality check to enable them to see for themselves how they stack up against these investor expectations.

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Mohsin Bijepuri ARN NO :33913 Chennai , 30 Dec 2023

Eagerly look forward to the 50 Gigs. Any good new tool is most welcome.


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