Why Financial Freedom is Important for Women?

Why Financial Freedom is Important for Women?
05/06/2019

Individual freedom, in many ways, becomes pointless in the absence of financial freedom. This is more so in the case of women. Unless women have the financial freedom to choose and build their own future, a lot of the talk of freedom remains just on paper.

Why financial freedom is so critical for women?

We normally associate financial freedom with women at work. While that is partially correct, but it does not represent the full meaning. Even today, a lot of successful women professionals leave all the financial decisions to the men in the family. Financial freedom is not just about money power but also the power to plan and allocate the money. Let us look at why financial freedom is so critical for women?

  • Financial freedom is all about a sense of equality and identity for women in society. Indian laws have made freedom a fundamental right for men and women. But this freedom remains just on paper if it does not translate into financial freedom. The women must not only have freedom to choose her career path but also how she wants to best allocate the money.
  • Most women intend to make a contribution to the welfare of family but are constrained in the absence of any worthwhile savings and money flows. Contribution and taking care of near and dear ones gives the women a sense of identity and self-esteem which comes from financial freedom.
  • Creating a nest egg for her future surely helps. A nest egg is a corpus for her financial security which also gives her a lot more freedom to pursue what she thinks is best for her. A corpus may not solve all problems, but it surely makes the uncertainties appear less daunting.
  • Decision making power is at the core of financial freedom. It has been observed that women make more prudent money decisions; both when it comes to their own money and their family resources. It is this financial freedom that can help in realizing her true potential.
  • Above all, it is about good money habits. Let us not ignore this aspect. We all need to imbibe good money habits. By keeping women away from financial decisions, they largely become disengaged from financial decision making and that puts them at a disadvantage. When it comes to handling money, there is nothing like the real thing.

Three steps to financial freedom

Women have the financial resources and freedom. The next step is to actually make financial freedom happen. By spending most of the money, it is hard to create any kind of financial freedom. There are three steps to go about it.

  • You don’t enjoy financial freedom unless you are a good saver. No matter what you think, there is always that little bit extra that you can save. Splurging money can give you instant gratification but that is hardly going to enhance your sense of financial freedom in any way. Set a target saving and plan expenses accordingly.
  • Get into the habit of investing because the question is “Save and do what?”. So you should invest for the long term and wait to see your investments deliver strong returns.
  • Create a plan and seek professional help, if needed. A plan is about the long term goals of the lady and her family. You cannot realize your sense of financial freedom and well being unless you have a financial plan with a timetable for your long term goals. If you are not sure, don’t try to do it all by yourself; there is professional help to add value.

Financial freedom for women is about asserting their rights, their wishes and working towards it. Get comfortable with financial decision making and the rest will follow.

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The Difference Between Regular and Direct Mutual Fund

The Difference Between Regular and Direct Mutual Fund
01/09/2019

Browse through the NAVs of mutual funds either in the pink papers or the AMFI website and you will find that the same growth or dividend scheme of a mutual fund is subdivided into Regular plans and Direct Plans. Have you ever wondered what are these Direct Plans and Regular Plans? Let us check out a live NAV table first.

Date Source: AMFI

In the above table, you will find that the DSP Top 100 Equity Fund is subdivided into Direct Plan and Regular Plan. You will also find that the Direct Plan has a higher NAV compared to the Regular Plan. Before comparing Direct Plans and Regular Plans, let us briefly dwell on the brief history of Direct Plans.

A Brief History of Direct Plans

Prior to 2009, fund houses charged investors entry loads on mutual funds to cover selling and distribution costs. In August 2009, SEBI banned the collection of entry loads from mutual fund clients. However, the official model of Direct Plan came only from January 2013 when SEBI asked all fund schemes to classify into Direct Plans and Regular Plans.

Currently, funds are allowed to debit their annual expenses up to a ceiling of 2.25% of the AUM in case of equity funds to the fund NAV. This is called the Total Expense Ratio (TER). The fund does not bill the distribution and trail commission costs to Direct Plan investors. Hence, Direct Plans are subject to lower TERs and the NAV are higher. Here are three key points.

Direct Funds Have Lower Expense Ratio

The TER on Direct Plans is lower since the distribution and trail fees are not billed to them. However, there are other costs too in a mutual fund. Mutual funds have to incur operational costs, fund management fees, auditor fees, registrar charges, execution costs, statutory costs and brand expenses, among others. Even if you are holding a Direct Plan, these expenses will still be charged to you. It is only the distribution and trail commissions that are not billed to your NAV. In a typical equity fund the regular plans will have a TER of around 2.25% while the TER for a Direct Plan will be 60-70 bps lower. This cost saving each year enhances your return over the longer period of time.

Direct Plan Does Not Involve Any Intermediary

Direct Funds are simple in nature and the process of investing, especially through an online platform is easy as you do not deal with any intermediary. You can invest directly and make your own investment choice. Just ensure that the NAV in your statement actually reflects the Direct Plan NAV as available on the AMFI website.

Choose Direct Plans If You Can Make Financial Planning Decisions Independently

The common question is - who should opt for a Direct Plan. There are no hard and fast rules. If you are savvy enough to manage your financial planning and investments on your own, then you can consider Direct Plans. When you invest via Direct Plans you do not get the benefit of the advisory services of a broker or financial advisor. Hence, you need to make your choice of Direct Plan after due consideration. Ensure that you have the time and resources to make your financial planning decisions independently.

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How Can You Invest In Direct Mutual Funds?

How Can You Invest In Direct Mutual Funds?
01/09/2019

Direct plans of mutual funds enable the investor to save on costs. Direct Plan investors are not charged the distributor and trail commissions. For an average equity fund, this reduces the Total Expense Ratio by 60-70 basis points. This makes a big difference over longer periods.

The KYC process remains the same, irrespective of whether you opt for the Direct Plan or the Regular Plan. Also you have to register with the AMC or the aggregator once. The investor can either do a lump sum investment or follow SIP route through the Direct Plan. Once your SIP is registered as a Direct Plan, then it continues that way. You can convert a Regular Plan into a Direct Plan by writing to your fund. How do you invest in Direct Mutual Funds?

Direct Plan Investing Through AMCs

Walk into the nearest office or Investor Service Centre of the AMC of your choice. If you are a first time investor, then you will have to complete your KYC and you will be allotted a ‘Folio Number’. Once folio number is allotted, subsequent investments can be done online. Ensure that you specifically check the Direct Plan box in your application. The only challenge in this approach is that you will have to obtain a distinct folio number for each AMC.

Direct Plan Investing Through Fund Registrars

Registrars are the record keepers and folio managers of all mutual fund accounts. There are two key players viz. Karvy and CAMS. You can register with either registrar online to invest in Direct Plans. Of course, when you approach a registrar, you can only invest in funds for which they are the registrars. In fact, when you submit an application to your AMC, it is processed by the registrar only. So, this is an extension of the first method.

Leveraging MFUs and Fund Aggregators

Mutual Fund Utilities (MFU) or aggregators are an agnostic platform to invest in mutual funds. You will have to take a one-time registration and obtain a Common Account Number (CAN). Once the CAN is obtained, you can map all your existing folios to that particular CAN and they would be treated as Direct Funds. The advantage is that you don’t have to interface with multiple AMCs and the MFU aggregates and gives you requisite analytics for better decision making. The challenge is that you can only deal in the funds where the AMCs have tied up with the MFU. This platform is convenient and centralized.

Direct Plan Investing Through Investment Advisors, Online Direct Investment Portals

The challenge in the above 3 methods is that you still have to be self-driven. As an investor you need to take all the decisions including screening, selecting and ensuring that funds are in sync with your long term goals. One alternative is to go through on online platform of Registered Investment Advisor or through a Robo Advisor. These platforms provide investment recommendations to investors on the basis of certain details keyed in by the investor. 

Direct Plans Of Mutual Funds – How To Make The Choice?

Investing through Direct Plans requires that you are comfortable with a self-driven approach to investing in mutual funds. While mutual funds offer diversification and professional management, they are also exposed to the vagaries of the markets and macros. You must be confident to handle these gyrations. Ideally, Direct Plans are for investors who have the time, wherewithal and resources to spend in making investment decisions. Otherwise, you are better off opting for a Regular Plan and letting your broker advice you appropriately.
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5 Factors to Look at While Selecting a Stockbroker

5 Factors to Look at While Selecting a Stockbroker
01/10/2019

Today, there is an abundance of stockbrokers offering their premium services to individuals wanting to accumulate wealth through the financial markets. As such, it is vital to choose a good stockbroker who understands the investor’s financial goals and guides him/her towards substantial returns.

Investors of today have two choices when it comes to stockbrokers: the traditional stockbroker and the discount brokerages. Traditional brokers charge a certain percentage as a fee, which differs with the type and size of the transaction. These brokers also send out trading tips and research bytes to the clients.

Discount brokerages, on the other hand, offer the standard services but at a fixed (flat) cost, i.e. regardless of the type and size of the transaction. They, however, do not offer any trading expertise, i.e. they do not give out trading or stock tips nor do they provide any insights into a trade. As such, they are suitable for those who prefer to self-educate themselves and take independent decisions.

Considering these, an investor has to carefully think about his/her requirements as well as exercise caution when choosing a stockbroker.

Here are five factors that would help a new investor in selecting a stockbroker who understands the financial goals of the investor.

  1. Credibility

    It is vital to perform a thorough background check on the stockbroker before entrusting them with your life savings. Finding out how many years the stockbroker has been in business, how it has performed in the past, what do the clients say about the firm, and any other relevant questions. This will help the individual to know more about the broker.

  2. Minimum Balance

    Investors need to maintain a minimum balance in their stockbroking account, and hence, it is vital to inquire about the same. This amount varies from broker to broker, hence, investors should choose a broker who not only provides the best services, but also has a low minimum amount threshold so that it does not tax their monthly budget. Other than the minimum amount, there should also be ease of access when it comes to depositing and withdrawing funds. Typically, brokerage houses have tie-ups with local banks which lets investors access their funds at any time. Withdrawals normally take three days to reach the client’s account.

  3. Technological Expertise

    Brokers who constantly update their platforms with the latest technology are able to give a unique advantage to the investor. There are also able to match the evolving needs of the investors and educate them on new features and solutions. Choosing a broker who consistently provides a stable and steady platform to their clients is a must.

  4. Availability

    A broker should be available during stock market hours to execute orders without any lag or delay or to address any issues that may arise on their electronic platforms. An investor should also check the speed and the stability of the website/mobile applications, especially during peak hours, to ensure that the pages load quickly and easily as even a split second can lead to the investor losing out on a profitable trade.

  5. Transparency and Capability

Transparency and capability are also important parameters when looking for the perfect stockbroker. There are many ways in which brokers charge their clients. Hence, the client has to ensure that all charges involved are mentioned in a lucid and transparent manner while opening an account. This will help you avoid any hidden costs that brokers might impose later. Apart from this, a broker should also have strong business policies that maintain the quality of the business.

When it comes to the capability of the brokers, investors should make sure that the stockbroker and his team have a strong background and passion for trading in order to have a hassle-free experience. When the team is able, it largely influences the business practices and delivers a profitable outcome to its investors.

Choosing the right stockbroker is vital to trading as the investor is entrusting their life savings into the former’s care. If a stockbroker or his brokerage satisfies the above-mentioned criteria as well as provides real-time customer support, add-on financial services and, as a bonus, is interested in enhancing the client’s knowledge of the markets, then engaging with them is a wise decision.

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How to Buy Stocks Online: A Step-By-Step Guide?

How to Buy Stocks Online: A Step-By-Step Guide?
by 5paisa Research Team 04/10/2019

Online trading has picked up in a big way in the Indian markets. To buy stocks online, the following steps are essential to understand how to go about the process.

1. Choose your online broker carefully

The first step to buy stocks online is to select your online broker. You have a choice of discount brokers and full service brokers and you can select one based on whether you want pure execution or are you looking for research and stock tips as well. Also check the follow-up services provided by the broker and the back-up order placing facility like call-n-trade, before making your choice.

2. Opening your trading and demat account

If you want to trade in equities, trading account and Demat account is a must. While online trading account is for executing transactions, the demat account is for holding shares when you take delivery. The process of account opening is quite simple and you need to provide basic documentation like proof of identity, address proof, cancelled cheque and PAN card. Once your account is activated and you reset your password you are ready to trade online.

Know: Difference between Demat Account and Trading Account

3. Next step is to fund your account

Whether you want to buy stocks online for short term or long term delivery or intraday; you need to fund your trading account. You can either fund the account through NEFT or IMPS or UPI. The online broker will permit you to place orders only after your account is adequately funded.

3. Screen stocks you want to buy before placing the order

One advantage of online stock buying is that you can read research reports, screen stocks on parameters like profitability, ROCE, ROE, among others and execute orders seamlessly. Many brokers also offer you the “call to action” facility. You can read the report or stock tips and directly execute the order from that place with a few clicks.

4. Select the price and select the right type of order

Once you are ready to place the order, you can take the help of online technical charts to identify the best level to enter the stock and also put stop losses accordingly. Try to get the best price possible. Take care of how you place the order. For example, if the market is volatile, try to place a limit order so that you can get the price of your choice or better. Alternatively, if you are buying in a falling market, use a market order to get the best possible price.

5. Once the order is placed, do the follow up work

Once the order is placed, your job does not end. Check with the order book if the order is reflecting properly. To check the status of execution, you must refer to the trade book. Only executed orders are shown in the trade book whereas the open orders are shown in the order book. Before the order is executed, if you are unhappy with the price, you can always cancel the order or even modify the order price and quantity. The discretion is entirely yours. Once the trade is completed, cross check with the contract notes in the evening and also do a weekly reconciliation with the demat account and the ledger account.

6. Finally, take care of security of your online trades

There are quite a few critical things to take care here. Firstly, ensure that your password is safe and as complicated as possible. Avoid writing down your password anywhere. Secondly, use dual authentication for your trading account and make it a point to log out of your trading account when not in use. Thirdly, you cannot let your hardware be compromised. Avoid downloading software and games from unknown sources. Update the anti-virus and anti malware regularly. Lastly, avoid using your online trading account at cyber café or via public wi-fi. They are not secured and can endanger your personal data and wealth.

These basic steps to buy stock online can go a long way in enhancing and enriching your online trading experience.

Check the latest guide on: How to invest in stock market for beginners

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Do’s and Don’ts of Stock Market Investing for Beginners

Do's and Don'ts for beginners

With a trading account and demat account you are ready to trade. But if you are a beginner in the stock markets, then that is not all. You also need to keep a tab on some major do’s and don’ts before you venture into investing in the stock markets. Let us look at 10 such key dos and don’ts for investors.

10 important do’s and don’ts for investment beginners

Do’s are about doing the right things in the market when you are starting off on your investing journey while the don’ts are the ones to avoid. Here are ten such important dos and don’ts for investing beginners.

  1. Do your research before investing? Remember, research of a stock is not a rocket science and it is all about getting your research process right. Get comfortable reading the balance sheets and income statements of a company. Also read the Management Discussion and Analysis (MDA) of the stock you are planning to invest in.

  2. Start with your goals in mind. You must be clear about how much risk you are willing to take and how much risk you can afford to take. Your equity portfolio should be within the limits defined by your allocation. Always start with a plan.

  3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. That is age old wisdom and applies to investing as well. In technical parlance it is called diversification where you effectively spread your equity investments across sectors and themes so that your investment performance is not dependent on any one stock or sector.

  4. Take a long term view and cultivate that habit in the very beginning. It is futile to time the market. Not only that it is hard to consistently get the tops and bottoms of the market right but it hardly makes any difference to your eventual returns.

  5. Try to invest consistently and regularly instead of putting a large corpus in a stock of your choice. The advantage of being regular is that it instils discipline in your investment and also gives the added benefit of rupee cost averaging. That means; over time your average cost of investing comes down.

  6. Even through equity is about the long term, try to get bargains. Even if you are convinced about the long term prospects of Infosys, it makes a lot of business sense to buy at Rs.650 than at Rs.750. Quite often, a market correction creates salivating bargains. Use such corrections to add quality stocks at low prices.

  7. Divide your equity portfolio between core holdings and satellite holdings. Your core holdings are your long term investment portfolio and you don’t sell these stocks at every correction. On the other hand, the satellite portfolios are more of a trading portfolio where you look out for short to medium term opportunities in the market. Have a separate approach to both these types of stocks.

  8. Don’t ignore trading costs. Even if you are a long term investor, take at a close look at your costs. Your cost is not just about brokerage costs but there are a number of other costs too. There are statutory costs, exchange charges, demat AMC, DIS charges, demat and remat charges etc. All these need to be added to calculate your effective cost. Nowadays, it makes a lot of sense to opt for low-cost discount brokers who can give the same execution at a much lower cost.

  9. As a beginner, remember that quality always wins in the end. When we talk about quality we are talking about quality at a number of levels. Look at quality of earnings; more of the earnings must be coming from the core business. Look at profitability; the company must be earning more margins than the peer group. Take stock of asset turnover; it tells you how efficiently the business is using assets. At a qualitative level, prefer companies that have high standard of disclosure and transparency. Large caps or mid caps, this quality approach always works in your favour.

  10. Make effective use of technology and if you are a beginner then you better get used to it early. Ideally use the online trading platform; it gives you a lot more control over your trades. Also, if possible you can download the app on your smart phone which allows you to trade on the run. Get used to reading electronic contract notes and ledgers; they are a lot more convenient and environment friendly than printed stuff.

In an effort to chase stocks, investors tend to forget that investment success is a lot more about discipline than about skills or flair. It is in your hands to make your investments work in a systematic manner.