Thursday, January 31, 2008

Invest in a Company serious about CSR & Corporate Governance

CRISIL launched a 50 scrip index which tracks the top Indian companies on the basis of Corporate Governance, Ethics and Social responsibility. It's called the ESG Index. (Environment, Social, Governance)

This is what I was looking for when I am looking around for stocks to invest. Infosys, ITC was already in my radar and I am glad to see that they rank right on the top of the 50 scrips. The top ten companies by weight in the index are:
  1. Infosys
  2. ITC
  3. Aditya Birla Nuvo
  4. Dr.Reddy Labs
  5. Wipro
  6. Jubilant Organosys
  7. Axis Bank
  8. GTL
  9. RIL
  10. HUL
See Crisil website for all the details

Mint reports that the first sustainability index that was launched in Brazil in 2005 has given returns of 26%, higher than the 18% offered by the benchmark index of Brazil.

So investors would be rewarded and you also have the satisfaction of investing in a company aware of its social responsibility and scores high on corporate governance.

India's first online weekly onpersonal finance

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What is the most amazing thing in this world? Yudisthira answers!

In Mahabharata, the great Indian epic, there’s a story of a Yaksha asking some intriguing questions to Yudhisthira. The story goes like this….

One day while living in exile in the forest, Yudhisthira finds that while attempting to drink water from a lake, all his brothers have been killed by a mysterious Yaksha (a celestial entity). When Yudhisthira arrives the Yaksha challenges him to answer all his questions or else face the same consequences as his brothers.

One of the questions was what is the most wonderful/surprising thing in the world and Yudishthira answers that the most amazing thing is that even though every day one sees countless living entities dying but no one can imagine him/herself taking that last journey!

See all the Yaksha questions here

I guess that’s why even though Insurance is an important financial product, people have a natural tendency to avoid it. Infact most of us cite the agents pestering and tax issues for taking insurance!

If you ask me, the following form the crux of my thoughts on insurance:

  • First of all, you should never buy anything but term life insurance. Insurance as an investment is a great investment for the insurance company but a terrible one for you. If you want insurance, get insurance; if you want to invest, buy an investment. Don’t mix the two!
  • Second, if you have no dependents and no spouse, don’t buy life insurance. Ever. Don’t let a salesman talk you into it.
  • Next, the more net worth you have, the less insurance you need. This means that before you start thinking about life insurance, know what your net worth is. This is an important number for figuring out how much net worth you’re going to need.
For starters why don't you check out the amount of insurance that you need.

Cross posted on Insurance Information in India which is the first blog off the Blogs201 stable

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Just a normal day at the stock markets

Couldn't help shamelessly copying this cartoon image from Atanu Dey's Blog

Information Blogs & Websites: Free & Easy

This one is a step ahead of my last post where you needed to tell me about the site you want to create and I would have to sit for an hour to get it started. Now you can build a blog in seconds on your own!

Welcome to This is a community to share what you know and make a difference.

Here you can:

  • Sign up for a free blog in seconds
  • Share useful information
  • Post useful resources and upload materials
  • Build a personal webpage for yourself
  • Embed videos and images and customize your space
  • Create online discussions
  • Build your own newspaper or newsletter
  • Create a complete website!

This community is powered by Wordpress which is the one of the most powerful open source blogging tool available. It is secure and is ably supported.

Happy Infoblogging!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Free Website & Blogs for Newbies & Dummies

Let me build a website or Blog for you. Yes, it will be free!

If you have an opinion that you would like to share with everyone or want to create your own small web community with your friends or simply want to have a web presence, this is for you! And especially if you want to talk about India.

Go to this site for details

It's my small way of saying Thanks to a community from which I have learnt so much in the past one year.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Question on Entry Load in Direct MF Investments

Rakesh, a reader, sent me the following doubt on entry loads in direct Mutual Fund investments by email:

[I] had a question on the entry load. Recently SEBI(or RBI, i dont remember which) instructed all fund houses not to accept entry loads on direct investment in their mutual funds. While I am very happy with this decision, I am not sure if the investors have a choice in investing directly with the fund houses.
I am particularly looking at DSP ML, Franklin Templeton, Fidelity, Principal and HDFC and wanted to check with you if they have options for investing online. If not would investors get the benefit of no entry load even when we invest in these funds through their franchise outlets.

My response to him was :
  • SEBI is the regulator of securities markets and RBI regulates the banks as well as looks after the national monetary policy. So in Mutual Funds, SEBI is the regulator involved.
  • SEBI's circular on waiver of load for direct application is applicable from Januray 4, 2008 and you can see their circular here.
  • Ajay Shah has written about the practical implications in his blog and I quote him, " the practical implication of this effort has been greatly undermined by the requirement that the physical PAN card has to be verified before an online transaction takes place. In other words, the canonical online transaction - the ability for a stranger to be able to come up to the website of a financial firm and put in money - is infeasible. SEBI strongly needs to switch the sequencing around: Require the physical verification of the PAN card after the online transaction and not before." You can see the full post here.
To my knowledge, Quantum MF was the only AMC providing online load free applications even earlier. But now all AMC have to provide a link for online applications on their sites.

Webpage for buying from Franklin Templeton

Any information or experience to share? Do comment or write.

India's first online weekly on personal finance

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Stock Markets Crash: Is there hope for small investors?

The darkest hours are the moments just before sunrise! So when there's stories of carnage on the stock markets abuzz, it's time to look for sane voices. Ajit Dayal comes out with an interview where he says that a 20% annual rate of return is possible in India.

He says,
[T]he risk for any investor is surrendering to his emotions. Investors are either blinded by greed at one extreme or are enveloped in fear at another extreme. The clueless investor is like a ship floating in a dark sea - with no lights, no navigation maps, and no stars to guide him. The poor fool will float with the tide and ride the waves of greed and fear. His survival is at risk. His only hope is to be rescued by a greater fool.
A knowledgeable investor makes sure he has a map, a torch, some idea of the stars to guide him when the lights go out, and an anchor to hold on to in rough seas. When the markets fall for some irrational reason and fear grips the markets, the disciplined investor will buy into this falling market. When markets rise for silly reasons and irrationally and greed set in, the disciplined investor will sell.

Go read the full interview

Monday, January 21, 2008

My Interview by Debt Consolidation Care Guys

Debt Consolidation Care is a community based website to help people having debt problems and payday loan problems. It is based out of Nevada, US and has already 103865 members discussing their debt issues on the website through 31078 discussions as on date.

They have started a series on interviews of bloggers and webmasters who have made their mark in the personal finance industry with their work. Julie had some questions for yours truly too and I'm happy to have been asked.

Read my interview at DebtConsolidationCare.

Thanks Julie.

India's first online weekly on personal finance

Dream Run in the Mumbai Marathon shakes off the lazy me

Running 6 km at a stretch would be asking too much from a lazy person like me. But walking 6 km at a stretch is no big deal, I thought. And in the carnival spirit of the event, it was actually great fun.

I enjoyed my first dream run in the Mumbai marathon. Calling it a "dream run" is a misnomer, though. 99% of us dream runners walked and walked merrily without breaking a sweat.

The biggest benefit of running er.... participating in the Mumbai marathon was getting up at 5 am in the morning and having a chilled out bath at 5.20 am in the morning. And looking at the rising Sun was so energizing!!

At 6 ft height and 78-80 kg weight I have been complacent about my fitness. The Mumbai marathon spirit has enthused me to get fitter this year. So I'll aim at a weight of 75 now and have asked my wife to wake me up every morning and take me along for the walk/Yoga sessions.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

India Personal Finance Websites and Portals

Sramana Mitra says that the Personal Finance is one of the top segments that draws online advertising dollars and Personal Finance is an important vertical as
  • 61% of the Internet users use the internet to research stocks or check their bank accounts and
  • around 73% of the Internet users’ research sources for investments, mortgages and insurance.
That might be true in the US with exciting websites like Yahoo! Finance, Google Finance, ETrade, Fool, Seeking Alpha MSN, CNN, AOL, and Marketwatch.

But in India when I searched for "Personal Finance websites in India" My PF site ranked No.1 on Yahoo search, ahead of Yahoo Finance India! I rank 3/4 on Google too!! This makes me very happy but also reflects on the fact that there are very few good sites in India which covers the personal finance sector in its entirety. As Mitra says in one of her comments, the segment is wide open in India.

Yes, there is MoneyControl and PersonalFn provide good information and tools for managing one's finances. But there's a lot of potential for more websites that offer research, community features, directory of financial advisors, portfolio management tools and comparison tools.

This post will be a sticky one and I intend to review personal finance websites in India in detail here. It will be a longish post and I intend to keep it updating and chip-chopping! (using the power of blogs)

Before that, let me categorize personal finance websites (PFW) in two broad categories:
  1. PFW providing opinion and reviews designed to provide information and/or selling a financial product. PersonalFn for example, gives excellent review and information and also doubles up selling financial planning to readers. They survive with advertising money like print media. They can be unbiased and independent. But there aren't many in India right now. That probably explains why my 4 month old site appears on page 1 when you search for them!
  2. PFW providing selective information designed to sell a financial product. Like an Insurer's website will provide information on their own insurance products and not on competitors or other financial products. Also the information is selective, i.e. designed to sell the product and all positives will be mentioned.
Category 1 Websites: (All rounders, Mutual Funds, Blogs, etc)

All rounders:
  • To my mind the best PFW in India is PersonalFn. Their tag line is "Money. Simplified" and they live up to that. They have well researched articles and provide financial planning services which appears to be honest and ethical. I called up their numbers and got a good initial response. But I did not really get any follow up calls :( . There SEO also needs some optimization so that whenever you search for personal finance in India, you should land up to their site first.
  • PersonalFn is a wholly owned subsidiary of Quantum Financial Services and they have an excellent Stock Research site at EquityMaster. They have a very informative Year Book 2008 of 200 top Indian companies which is a must read for any stock investor. I have had some sneek peeks at their research reports and I found them lucid and insightful.
  • MoneyControl, a TV18 initiative, has the tagline of being India's No. 1 Financial Portal. They are very strong in Stocks news and analysis. I would like them to offer comparison tables for financial products too as they are trying to do with consumer goods at CompareIndia
Mutual Funds:
  • ValueResearchOnline is the complete guide to Mutual Funds in India. It is independent, unbiased and has a very efficient method of rating the MF schemes under varios categories and manged by various AMCs. Best in class, no doubt about it. But I wish they could be more interactive. My numerous mails and questions go unanswered. And a bit uncluttering of the site would be my personal wishlist for them.
Coming next is Financial services wise websites (Insurance, Mutual Funds, etc), personal finance Blogs and more!

To be continued....

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Ajay Shah's suggestions for combating fees and expenses of fund management

Ajay Shah has a post on Combating fees and expenses of fund management.

His suggestions:
  • here is a small group of products that I am comfortable with: there are index funds (both open-ended funds and ETFs) and there is Quantum Mutual Fund. I like the Nifty and Nifty junior ETFs from Benchmark Mutual Fund, which are the lowest-cost index funds around.
  • I would encourage customers to avoid the fund management products sold by insurance companies: Buy pure insurance products from insurance companies if you really need insurance, and avoid the bundling of fund management with insurance.
  • In all cases, I would encourage the customer to avoid distributors, be very conscious about the grand total fees and expenses being inflicted on you, and pay as little as you possibly can to financial firms. Fund management is a rare field where paying more generally gives you lower quality products.
  • Avoid all `New Fund Offerings' (NFOs); do not churn.
  • Become a customer of the New Pension System, which is phenomenally low cost, when you get the opportunity. The NPS has no NFOs, no innovative product development, no distributors, just honest down-to-earth low cost fund management.
Go read the full post

India's first online weekly onpersonal finance

Saturday, January 5, 2008

MyToday is live and kicking

I registered an account at MyToday which is a homegrown web apps from Netcore India. The content available is good and the website has a clean interface. I guess they need to work on the visual aspect of the site, even though it's fine with me.

I feel that MyToday also needs to have a strong editorial support staff as well as a interactive support mechanism to make a big impact. I'm comparing it with their Blogstreet initiative which held a lot of promise, but did not impress me (with the lack of support for my numerous emails!)

I presume Rajesh Jain wants to focus on content and does not believe so much on marketing. My 2 cents would be that Marketing does not mean just shameless promotion. It also means understanding the customers needs, fulfilling them and make customers delighted with the support functions.

I also want them to make a sms alert service for my "To do Today" list.

  • MyToday has loads and loads of content for you. From news updates from around the world to local information about Weather, Movies, Emergency Numbers to all-time Classics, Books, Puzzles, TV timings and more. You'll have unrestrained access to all this content by just registering with MyToday. And registering is a simple two step process. Enter your phone number and password - and then confirm it by simply sending an SMS.
  • I especially like the content in their "Library".
  • Registering with MyToday ensures that you can use Bookmarks to store your favourite content. With Bookmarks, you can create your list of content that you can access any time you want. For example, if you want to check a recipe again, or want to revisit a poem that you loved - all you need to do is bookmark it and it will be available to you the next time you visit MyToday.
  • To top it, registered users can create sms alerts for their own content too (Bloggers, take note!) For example, Atanu Dey is already on MyToday. You can follow him by sending a message START AtanuDey to 575758
Time to get the power of mobile working for you.

Trying out Zoho Creator: The best blog posts 2007

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Looking back at 2007 at

2007 has seen my toddler blog evolve and take shape. The blogger url was and I titled the blog as a "Knowledge exchange on Finance". I did not like it for long and I tried various titles.

So my blog had preachy titles like "Take responsibility for your finances" or "Getting started is the key", cheesy ones like "Get rich or die tryin!" or "It doesn't require to be a genius to be rich"

Along the way I also named it as Ranjan's Weblog/blog on Business and Finance and the likes. I seem to have finally settled for the present title/subtitles, but who knows!

But I like it the way it is now. Ranjan's space: personal finance, infopreneurism, dotcom architecture and Me. While the blog evolved, I also learnt a lot on building a website and have dreams of becoming an infopreneur. The result is my site on personal finance, which is on the first page of google search results when you google "personal finance websites India"

It is satisfying to look back at 2007 when it comes to my web initiatives. A few blog posts that I recollect having fun in putting together are:

Thanks and keep the encouragement coming by your mail and subscriptions by email and RSS feeds. For my new year resolutions, you can check me out on Twitter too!