Salary does not make you rich, but avoiding losses and sensible investing can
Moneylife Foundation conducted a seminar for women employed with Hindustan Unilever Limited, at their headquarters in Mumbai. Sucheta Dalal and Debashis Basu, both founder-trustees of Moneylife Foundation, took the audience through the various aspects of their current and future financial planning and how to deal with the challenges that it may throw up.
In the first part of the session, Ms Dalal began by saying, “Women outlive their partners by about five to seven years, on an average, and these are usually the years when you live off your savings.” She laid out the basic mantras to securing a working woman’s future: minimising losses, right insurance, taking financial prophylactics such as Wills and nomination, avoiding emotional, credit and investment traps and, finally, keeping finances simple. Citing the large losses people seem to suffer in various wrong investments, she said, “The recouping of losses never includes the opportunity cost of the money lost, and there is no recompense for the troubles.”
Ms Dalal explained how to identify secure financial products. She then discussed the intricacies and importance of having a clear Will and women’s rights under the law. She narrated some real-life examples where women had been cheated of their rightful inheritance because of unclear planning. Finally, she spoke of the role of credit in today’s life, and how this is central to how finances are planned. “This is especially true for salaried professionals,” she said.
In the second part of the session, Mr Basu unveiled the simple path to creation of wealth and future prosperity for salaried professionals, through investing smartly. “Salary does not make you rich, so what does?” he asked. He discussed how most salaried women’s (in fact, even men’s) path to creating wealth is undermined by poor saving and investment habits.
Mr Basu enumerated the products that most effectively help achieve our simple goals: buying an apartment, marriage, education, etc. The biggest question on everyone’s minds when they speak of various investments, or investing in general, is: “How much returns will I get?” Mr Basu detailed the kind of returns that investors should realistically expect from various asset classes like equity, gold, FDs, real estate, etc.
He also emphasised the corrosive effects of inflation on wealth. The one way to counter this is to compound your wealth through products that beat inflation, namely, good-quality stocks and mutual fund schemes. These can accelerate growth in the future, if handled systematically. He disputed the many myths about investing in gold and real estate which deliver far lower returns than good-quality stocks. “Less is more, even in investing,” he explained. “A simple financial life, with just a few products, will help your secure a great financial future,” he said.