Wednesday, September 21 2022

Anupam Gupta’s ‘The Wisest Owl – Be Your Own Financial Planner’, uses the wisdom and experience of India’s top personal finance professionals like Dilshad Bilimoria, Harsh Roongta, Lovaii Navlakhi, Melvin Joseph, Suresh Sadgopan, Vishal Dhawan and Shalini Dhawan to provide a framework readers can use to build long-term wealth. The book will help general business readers, including students and people at home, by providing a framework they can use to build long-term wealth.

The future of financial planning

How do you achieve your financial dreams and thrive on your financial journey? The last two chapters of this book will answer these questions. This chapter points you in the right direction and the final chapter provides you with some maps. The first step is an absolute foundation and a good starting point: how to learn more about personal finance. We all need to have basic minimum knowledge about financial products and their usefulness in our lives. Over time, and once we need it, we can always consult a financial advisor. This chapter will deal with both aspects: self-learning and the functioning of financial advisers.

How to start

Over the past few years, I’ve often heard complaints like “I wish schools and colleges would teach us more about money.” Without getting into the gist of the complaint or commenting on our education system, I make a confident assertion: there is enough for you to start learning regardless of your age. This book is a humble attempt. If we didn’t learn how to manage our finances in school, it doesn’t mean that we remain ignorant all our lives. The internet has opened access to tomes of personal finance literature in visual formats like books and videos and audio formats like podcasts. Just ask yourself two questions: how much time per day can you dedicate to learning, and what is your preferred way of learning, i.e., do you prefer written content , video or audio? In my experience, you will eventually adapt to all three in varying amounts. There are only twenty-four hours in a day and you have a day job. So make a schedule that works for you and start your journey.

Although there are different ways to learn, I prefer to put in place a solid foundation and then update your knowledge. Books are that foundation and the internet can help you update your knowledge. Often the authors (or their companies) of the books recommended below have a significant social media presence and following them should keep you on the right track. However, before you follow them on social media, please track how much time you spend on social media. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of online social media groups and influencers and getting caught up in daily content can be a huge waste of time. Be judicious and disciplined with your time. Your long-term goals don’t depend on daily fluctuations in the stock market or the latest stock market tip or idea from your WhatsApp groups. Be very careful how you navigate the murky waters of social media. Choose your content carefully and be wise with your time.

With that important disclaimer, here’s a list of my top five authors that can get you started. My goal is to make you understand the basic aspects of investments (such as risk, return, liquidity, taxation, etc.), the operation of financial products such as stocks, insurance, mutual funds and credit cards, and above all, to make you aware of your relationship with money. These books, in my opinion, are the building blocks for setting up your finances for life. Four of these five authors have been on my podcast, and it was an honor to host them.

1. Saurabh Mukherjea: Obviously I’m biased since Saurabh wrote the introduction to this book, and my working relationship with Saurabh goes back a few years. I had the honor of co-authoring The Victory Project and working with him as a consultant from 2014-2018. If you can forgive the bias, then I recommend all of Saurabh’s books , namely Gurus of Chaos (Mukherjea, Gurus of Chaos: Modern India’s Money Masters, 2015), The Unusual Billionaires (Mukherjea, The Unusual Billionaires, 2016), Coffee Can Investing (Mukherjea, Ranjan & Uniyal, Coffee Can Investing: The Low -Risk Road to Stupendous Wealth, 2018), The Victory Project (Mukherjea & Gupta, The Victory Project: Six Steps to Peak Potential, 2020) and Diamonds in the Dust (Mukherjea, Ranjan & Desai, Diamonds in the Dust: Consistent Compounding for Extraordinary Wealth Creation, 2021). If I had to pick just one, I’d go with Coffee Can Investing, but I highly recommend you read the others as well. You can also follow Saurabh and his team’s thoughts on the Marcellus newsletters which are free to subscribe on their website: ww.marcellus.in.

2. Monika Halan: Disclosure again. Monika helped me a lot for this book. Bias aside, I think Monika is the gold standard for personal finance writing in India. She is unbiased, sharp and insightful when it comes to managing your money. In a world of influencers peddling paid content, Monika calls it out straight and has often taken the industry to task for shady practices. Being a veteran adds weight and credibility. His book, Let’s Talk Money (Halan, 2018) is a must read if you want to know how financial products work in India and how they are suited to your needs. Monika is also present on social media and blogs at monikahalan.wordpress.com.

3. Deepak Shenoy: Deepak runs CapitalMind and his first book, Moneywise (Shenoy, 2021), was launched late last year. The book is easy to understand and full of anecdotes, including some from Deepak’s life, which are helpful for the reader to relate to their own life. I have known Deepak since he started CapitalMind and his success speaks volumes about his abilities. Deepak is also on social media and CapitalMind has a subscription product that I subscribe to.

4. Morgan Housel: The Psychology of Money (Housel, 2020) by Morgan Housel has sold millions of copies worldwide. Morgan brings a refreshing change to the personal finance literature as he combines learnings from several diverse fields, from history to psychology, in managing your money. Morgan is present on social media and writes regularly on the Collaborative Fund blog: https://www.collaborativefund.com/blog/.

5. Ben Carlson: A Wealth of Common Sense by Ben Carlson (Carlson, 2015) is an excellent book for understanding how to use two essential elements – simplicity and common sense – in your financial plans. Many of us are put off by financial decisions because finance is full of jargon and complexity. In his book, Carlson explains how that’s not the case and how we can keep it simple and still achieve our financial goals. Ben is active on social media and runs a website:

6. https://www.awealthofcommonsense.com.

Why are there only five books and not ten? To keep things simple and get you started. In this dopamine fueled, social media addicted world (Goldman, Scope Blog), reading a book is seen as a major challenge. People now prefer succinct knowledge in the form of three-minute videos, 140-character tweets, Instagram stories and five-line messages on WhatsApp. I think if you could finish even half of the books mentioned above, you would have started your journey well. If you’re still hungry for more, you’ll get plenty of recommendations from the books themselves and updates from the authors mentioned above. Saurabh, for example, is a voracious reader and if you subscribe to his newsletter, you’ll have enough reading to keep you busy.

As you progress through your financial journey, you may run out of time to manage your money. Many of us have day jobs and as we get older our responsibilities increase and at some point we may need a financial advisor. The following section helps you navigate the world of financial advice.

(Extracted with permission from ‘The Wisest Owl Be your own Financial Planner’ By Anupam, Rs 399, published by Penguin)

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