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When Sunaina had a medical emergency which left her bedridden, without insurance, it got her thinking, “How do I manage my finances better?” She started doing some research and the more she dug in, the more she realized the level of financial ignorance in India. That was the starting point of Finqa, a company to promote financial literacy and awareness and help people with financial planning.
Finqa (short for ‘Financial questions answers’) is a fee-based financial advisory and solutions company. Fin10.com is the financial literacy awareness program which is complimentary for all Finqa clients.
“We provide personal financial solutions for a wide variety of individuals, right from freshers who have just started working (a tax-saving investment plan at Rs 1500) to wealthy individuals,” says Abhik Prasad, Co-founder.
Finqa is currently led by Ankur Kapur and Abhik. Ankur is a CFA and CFP finance domain expert who looks after advisory and management. He is an alumnus of Delhi School of Economics with over 10 years of experience at McKinsey, Ameriprise and E&Y.
Abhik looks after technology and marketing. He is an alumnus of St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, and IIM Lucknow, and has over 10 years of experience with Cognizant, Lowe Lintas and TCS.
The duo started with pure financial planning but realized over a period of time that most people had a basic problem: ‘Where do I invest my money?’
“The younger ones were also not interested in retirement or additional planning services. So instead of fitting one solution for everybody, we broke them up into modules so that people could choose what they want, like a monthly savings investment plan, Life Events, Tax Planning etc at very affordable prices,” explains Ankur.
During the course of corporate workshops, they discovered that a lot of the younger employees were almost financially ‘illiterate’. While they wanted to manage their money, they usually relied on half baked advice from friends and family and weren’t doing a great job of it. They also had a ton of questions.
“It was to meet this need of providing unbiased information in a clear and easy manner that we started Fin10.com. It is a step-by-step guide with articles on various topics of personal finance,” adds Abhik.
With Fin10.com the idea was to get financially literate by spending just 10 mins a day on an email lesson that would be sent out daily. Hence, the name Fin10.com was agreed upon. Both the domains .com and .in were available, but they chose .com as it has greater recall.
Interesting insights into the Indian consumer in terms of financial planning and literacy
Over the course of the last year, the duo has gained valuable insights into the Indian consumer’s mindset. Abhik and Ankur note them down below:
- Nobody in India is used to paying for financial advice. They all sort of expect it for free. Initially, we thought that people were ‘cheapskates’ but then realized later that they aren’t used to paying for financial advice because nobody had asked them in the past to do so. The entire retail financial industry works on commission basis and all the agents push products in the guise of offering advice.
- Everybody wants to ‘get rich’ but very few have concrete goals of what they will do with it. (Think about it. Do you know what you will do in life if you got a $100 million tomorrow?)
- People procrastinate a lot when it comes to making a financial decision. They don’t mind spending INR 20k on a weekend break but think a million times before paying for financial planning.
- A lot of folks are of the mindset that they are ‘spending’ the money when they are investing the money which is why most often they leave it in a Fixed Deposit.
- Most people tend to get active towards the end of the year when they have to declare investments of INR 1.5 lacs for tax saving purposes, which is when they end up buying products just to save tax in a hurry.
“All these insights have led us to structure our solutions so that people know first why they are investing their money, and how and where it’s invested. It just provides better clarity and a far better customer experience,” adds Ankur.
They started with a single product called ‘FinPlan’ which was a personalised financial plan for individuals. However, due to its cost structure and low awareness about its benefits, it did not do well. After months of brainstorming, the duo broke up the contents of the FinPlan into independent modules. Now instead of a full Financial Plan, people can sign up for solutions for their specific needs.
Some of the modules are:
- Monthly Savings Investment Plan – INR 1500; suitable for those folks who just let their monthly savings lie in the bank instead of investing it
- Tax Saving Investment Plan – INR 1500; suitable for those who fall in the tax bracket with recommendations for investment opportunities with a monthly frequency
- Investment Advice Plan – INR 4000 onwards; for those folks who have a lump sum of money or have got a bonus and don’t know what to do with it.
- Life Events Plan – INR 2500 each; for those who are planning to buy a house, go for higher studies, an international vacation etc.
“We are also working towards creating an online marketplace for financial products where people can buy any financial product they wish to,” says Abhik.
They offer support for buying stocks, various types of mutual funds, and bonds. In addition to this, the duo also conducts physical workshops at various corporates and educational institutions.
It’s still early days for Fin10.com and Finqa.
“We are seeing an encouraging response. We are targeting the long tail of the market which is currently underserved by existing establishments, and if more people launch similar services it will be good for the overall market as the pie will only get bigger,” they sign off.