‘Life planning helps shift focus from returns to life’

Aug 20, 2019

SEBI-registered Investment Adviser Indresh Malik started his career as a Chartered Accountant and later became investment officer for Portfolio Management Service (PMS). He started practicing life planning by shifting gears from return based approach to focus on helping clients achieve their goals. Malik chats Mornignstar about how life planning has helped his clients.

What inspired you to start your own practice?

I am a qualified Chartered Accountant and started out with a CA firm conducting statutory audits for 10 years. Along with it, I was always into investments and maintained my own portfolio on value investing principles. Driven by this passion, I worked for a PMS provider as an Investment Officer.

When did you realize that you have to start learning about life planning?

As PMS was a product-based approach to investments, during my interactions with client, I felt that there was a disconnect with what clients were actually want and what they were doing. In order to offer services closer to client’s actual needs, I became a Fee-only Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) in 2014. Finally, when I was introduced to Life Planning in 2015 by Mary Zimmerman at The Seven Stages of Money Maturity® workshop, I realized what I was seeking for my clients in their journey towards achieving financial freedom.

The workshop explored the unexamined territory like: Where do beliefs about money come from? Why do clients keep them so private? Why are they so persistent even when they are painfully counter-productive? How can advisers sensitively and professionally help clients bring to the surface their closely guarded dreams and aspirations?

That was the start of my life planning advisory journey. Personally, it’s been very fulfilling that I am able to make a difference in my client’s lives and create a deep bond of trust and respect.

How has life planning helped you?

Life planning starts with working on and living your own life plan. To be really able to make it a fulfilling process, one needs to walk the talk. I always evaluate everything based on whether and where it fits in my life plan. Is it really what I want? And I have made all big decisions based on this in my life, for my child,  for work, for clients, for any new experiences, and so on. That is what life planning does. It helps you live your most authentic self.

How has life planning helped your clients? Can you share a few anecdotes?

The focus has shifted from returns or products to life. This process is like peeling an onion. We go deeper and deeper to find goals and desires of clients and then devise a financial plan to achieve them. It’s very engaging and refreshing for clients. After going through the process and understanding the relevance, clients have imbibed, that life is not just to accumulate money but money is a means to have a life worthy of you. Let me cite examples of two of my clients who experienced life planning.

My first client was a couple who had an amazing corporate spell of 20+ years in technology space. It was the time tech took off from 1995 to 2015 and then they aspired to become entrepreneurs and start their venture. Entrepreneurial journey was not as they had thought and it had its own twist and turns when they started with me. For the first time, they appreciated what all they had – amazing experiences, enough wealth to support them though retirement and new dreams, which they never had the time or thought to explore. They have rearranged their life, work, passions and money to make everything a reality and lead a happy life.

Another client, when asked about goals, started with second home, holiday home and a huge list of materialistic things. Going through the life-planning journey he realized that his most cherished hidden dream was to become a chef. Though he has to work for that freedom to be able to do it. He has started taking classes and cooking at home, which makes him the happiest in the whole world.

As George coined “Experiencing ease around dollars and cents is what I call Money Maturity.”

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