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This 7th of December is the International Civil Aviation Day and marks the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Convention on International Civil Aviation.The purpose of this day, as pilots all over might be well aware of, is to recognize the importance of aviation to the overall development of the world.

And while pilots draw great confidence from being able to manage the process of reaching passengers to their destinations safely and comfortably, a more pressing question can be that are they confident when it comes to management of their finances?

The profession of a pilot demands almost all their time all year round. Hence they are left with limited personal time which they wish to live to the fullest. And like most busy professionals,more often than not money management seems to come at the end of this wish list. Pilots go through meticulous preparation and planning for their flights daily but sometimes are unable to do so for their finances.

While money is not the end, it is definitely a means to achieve certain objectives. Proper planning and structure to a pilot’s personal finances can result in he/she being prepared for all kinds of life events and responsibilities. Events such as:

  1. Sudden Illness:The requirement for pilots to be medically fit is of prime importance as they are responsible for the lives of hundreds of passengers daily. Every pilot needs to ensure a good health cover to cover sudden illness and hospitalisation. A pilot may wonder why would he need insurance when he is already covered. But if one actually things about, it might be prudent to have a separate health insurance cover for times when you may not be employed or between jobs or in cases where employer insurance is inadequate.
  2. Need for upgradation of Skill Sets:Like all professions, skill updation is a critical requirement that must be met by all pilots on periodic basis. But these do not come at a cheap cost. Ensuring enough provision and funds are kept aside and is available at the time of requirement can go a long way in avoiding last minute stress.
  3. Contingency Needs: A major issue plaguing the aviation industry is the availability of opportunities. The last few years have clearly demonstrated that problems are plenty in the Indian aviation sectors. For eg. Airlines have closed down, pay cuts are becoming common, or there have been significant delays in salary payments. Such events can have huge financial implications on pilots and their families. Having contingency funds parked in highly liquid assets can help bring some normalcy in such difficult times.
  4. Retirement and Sunset Years:Insufficient planning for your golden years i.e. Retirement can cause stress. In case of pilots, who are among the top earners amongst professionals, this only magnifies the problem. Why so? Pilots more often than not tend to have busy lifestyles with high discretionary expenses. As such they are accustomed to a lifestyle that will only get more and more expensive as years pass This year on year rise in prices is called Inflation and it is an important factor that more often that not, is grossly underestimated. Furthermore, like any other busy professional, even pilots like to keep themselves occupied during retirement years. The interests or activities that they might pursue would also usually have financial implications. Activities such as investing into various ventures, pursuing hobbies or dream goals, continuing leisure flying by enrolling in the local flying club can be just some of the examples. To be able to fund these without affecting retirement corpus requires careful planning early on.

Take the case of pilot Mr. Sharma. Currently aged 30, the household expenses for him and his family is Rs. 12 lakhs per annum. Even if we assume a general inflation of 8%, the same Rs. 12 lakh will become Rs. 1.75 crores at the age of retirement at 65. ( Rules permit pilots to fly till the age of 65 ). In other words, Mr. Sharma would need to have a big enough corpus at retirement that will provide them atleast Rs 1.75 crores every year that will help them maintain current lifestyles.

Pilots are aware of the importance of planning. Each flight requires hours of pre flight preparation which means going through weather reports, system checks among other items to ensure that the flight goes by without any hitch. Similarly having a strategic plan in place for one’s finances can also help prepare for any “rough weather” that could come along in a pilot’s financial life.

 

 

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1 (1) (1)In a world where access to internet is becoming more and more widespread, information on almost anything is subsequently becoming easier to find, simply by “Googling” it. Furthermore, free information quite often results in self proclaimed experts of the field, sometimes resulting in unfavorable outcomes for anyone who follows their views/advice without understanding how such individuals arrived at those outlooks.

As such it is important to separate a few facts from myths in terms of what data an individual should consider when faced with some common financial planning aspects rather than what is most commonly/easily available of the internet.

Sending children abroad for higher education is no more a matter of consideration for the upper class families. Nowadays, more and more middle class families aspire to send their children outside India for their education. As such, planning for such an major event requires careful attention. The common misconception is to take simple average rise of Indian education costs and apply the same data for education in a foreign country. However, two critical data points get missed out in such an exercise, (A) the rise in education costs in that particular country to which you plan to send your child. It is inappropriate to consider the inflation numbers would be identical or even similar to that of India. (B) the rise/fall in the currency exchange rate for the two countries in consideration. The following illustration should help clear this concept:

Particulars % Change
Rise in average education cost of  universities in the U.S. in last 10 years 5%
Rise in Currency Exchange rate in last 5 years 4%
Total Inflation to Consider 9%

Now In comparison the inflation rate for the Indian colleges is approximately 10%-11% p.a.

Talking about inflation, another topic of debate is if the Consumer Price Index (CPI) data is an adequate inflation benchmark, especially for higher middle class/ HNI families. To put things in perspective, following is a snapshot of items considered in the CPI basket and their respective weight-age:

Sr. No Particulars Weightage
1 Food and Beverages 45.86%
2 Pan, Tobacco and Intoxicants 2.38%
3 Clothing and Footwear 6.53%
4 Housing 10.07%
5 Fuel and Light 6.84%
6 Miscellaneous 28.32%

(Source: Ministry of Statistics Programme Implementation Circular Dated 14th March,2017)

As you can see, the weight age of expenses, while more suitable for the lower strata of income generating families, might not be appropriate for the higher end. Something like expenses on food/groceries would certainly not be half the expenses. As such, while current CPI numbers are around 3.5%, indicating that going forward inflation is to be expected around that range, it would be right to assume that a middle class family living in Mumbai would face the same inflation rates. A more appropriate method would be to calculate the individual inflation of major expense heads i.e. food, rent, education, lifestyle expenses and find the average of the same. You would more likely discover a very different inflation rate compared to the CPI.

Past returns is a favorite filter for most investors when choosing products of an asset class, especially stocks and mutual funds. However almost all online data provided by various service providers show Trailing Returns.. Trailing returns show how a fund has performed from date A to date B, by simply seeing the difference in NAV of those dates. But it does not show how consistently it performed in that period. A recent upswing in its performance can skew the average of say a 3 or 5 year performance. To adjust for this, Rolling Returns is considered. It does not take only one block of a 3year period but several blocks of such periods. Thus it allows you to see a range of performances across blocks of time. They therefore capture performance of funds over different market periods, giving a more reliable view of the fund’s performance

Similarly, another topic of debate is usage of Total Return Index v/s Simple Price Index as a benchmark when selecting a mutual fund. A Simple Price Index only captures the capital gains due to stock movements in the fund. But the Total Return Index considers the capital gains and dividend paid by the companies to the investors. Hence it shows a truer picture of the returns. Almost all mutual funds today benchmark their returns against the Simple Price Index. This can result in showing higher alpha generation by the fund which may not give the right picture to the investor. For example, Nifty 50 Price Index over past one year (as on 27th October 2017) was 18.63 percent and Nifty Total Return Index for the same period showed 19.75 percent. Hence a mutual fund will show different alpha based on the benchmark used.

Plan Ahead Wealth Advisors believes that Rolling Returns and the Total Price Index are the correct data points to consider.

Finally, the widespread use of the general rule of thumb when it comes purchasing a Term Insurance Plan i.e. the sum assured is to be 15-20 times the annual income. Procuring a term plan should be about covering financial risks that may befall on the dependants in case of an unfortunate event. Financial risk does not only include loss of income but also other factors such as pending liabilities, future financial goals, current assets that can be redeemed shortly to meet any obligations. Such factors also play a significant role in determining how much cover needs to be taken.

Using the right data is critical during the financial planning process. As you can see, wrong data can lead to significant errors/assumptions which can have detrimental impacts.

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uncertain inflowsI have uncertain inflows – how should I invest?

Money may not be the end in itself, but for most, it is a means to achieve many necessities as well as aspirations. Therefore it becomes important how an individual plans to use his/her hard earned money. More so when the inflows are not necessarily streamlined and consistent like that of an employee. When your personal income is linked to the performance of your firm, a well thought out plan could be all the difference between financial stability or having to make huge compromises.

Being a HR firm owner can have its ups and downs. By following certain simple financial planning steps, you can have some peace of mind with regards to your personal financial situation even though you may not have a steady income:

  1. Contingency Fund: This is a basic yet most critical part of any financial planning for a self employed individual. You never know when your next pay check may come. So it pays to prepare for the worst. Thumb rule has always been 3-6 months worth of household expenses to be kept aside in highly liquid assets as an Emergency Fund. Yet we feel that when it comes to a owner/manager, it should be at least 6-9 months worth of basic expenses!  A handy tip, do not forget to count any committed payments such as EMIs and any insurance premiums when calculating the corpus. 
  1. Risk Planning: or in lay man terms, Insurance Planning. This could be a considered an extension of contingency planning, but for very specific events. Following are the types of insurance policies one must always have at all times: 
  • Term Life Insurance Plan: The plain vanilla term plan is exactly the only kind of life insurance anyone should purchase. Handy tip, to know the amount of cover you might need, start with at least 15 times your annual revenue/income. Don’t forget, insurance should never be mistaken for an investment!
  • Individual Health Insurance: If nothing else, an individual health cover to at least cover your own standard hospitalization expenses is a must. Financial independence means you should be able to fend for yourself at the very least, even if it paying for your own recovery. 
  • Critical Illness Policy: Contracting a serious illness or undergoing a major surgery would mean a drag on your finances as well as a dent on income. Such financial risks can be mitigated by procuring a critical illness policy. Such policies usually provide for a lump sum payment to tide over the finances needed, in case of being diagnosed with a critical illness.
  • Personal Accident Policy: Another source of financial risk associated with most professionals is loss of income/job due to an accident. Similar to a Critical Illness Policy, this policy provides a supplement alternative income for certain weeks of disability depending on the terms of the policy. This can be used to either pay off medical expenses or help in taking care of household expenses during the recovery period.

While more types of insurances are available, it is essential that this set is acquired first. Having your Contingency funds and Risk Planning in place makes a strong base for you to venture into the world of investments.

  1. Planning for Retirement: Retirement, or as financial advisors put it, Financial Freedom, is something we all aspire for. The dream of not working for the sake of survival is a goal we all work towards. Yet having an uncertain income can make such a dream feel a little distant more often than not. And while retirement always seem likes a far off goal in comparison to what seem like more pressing concerns, it should ALWAYS be top priority! Underestimating your retirement financial needs can be the one of the biggest mistakes you could make and more often than not, people realize it far too late to make any significant course corrections. Even if you have to start with small amounts, it is the consistency and discipline that will ultimately help you reach your goal.
  1. Financial Goal Planning: Only after the first three steps are in place, is when you should really consider planning for the rest of the commitments/aspirations that you might have. As with any goal planning, the two critical aspects to consider are time horizon and future value of the goal, not current value. If you get these two right, the rest becomes clear.

For any individual with uncertain income flows, planning can become easier if you can channelize your savings, prioritizing in the above order! It is essentially in this area where the difference between financial planning for an owner of a firm/business versus that for an employed individual lies.

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HR Post 1 (2)Consultancy is the new age choice of profession. And being a consultant is right there amongst the top dream jobs!

One of the most upcoming fields in this professional niche is in the sector of Human Resources. Consultants in this sphere are referred to as Human Resource Business Partners.

A Human Resource Business Partner goes beyond the regular functions of the organization’s HR team. As such, HR Business Partners generally tend to be very busy as they handle important head hunting and hiring mandates. With bigger mandates and responsibilities comes a much nicer pay package alas with no time to look at personal finances!

But like all professionals, Personal Financial Planning should infact be at the top of the priority list. Why you ask? Let’s delve into the reasons.

Time Restraint: Like all consultants are occupied 24/7, a HR Business Partner is always vying for personal time. And when they do find some, the last thing on their mind is personal financial matters. In the catch up for personal things to get done, personal finances are a low priority. Yet should it not be the complete opposite of this? The importance of financial planning is not just related to finding out how much to invest and where. Financial planning and giving a structure to overall finances is aimed to attain peace in the thought that despite all other commitments, you are working towards insuring that financially your dreams and aspirations will be taken care of. And that is a great source of calm for a person constantly on the move.

Contract based Income: As a consultant, you are a contractual worker in essence. In other words, you are in receipt of the handsome income only as long as you manage to keep the contracts alive. Shouldn’t simple logic dictate your actions that this hard earned should be channelized for situations when no contract is available? Or in layman’s terms, creating a Contingency Fund for those truly lull periods in the industry. Wouldn’t you want to make this hard earned money work as hard as you so that your dreams of an early retirement or that fancy foreign holiday come true?

Insurance: While you may have already thought of the regular health and life insurance policies, what is worth considering are additional risk covers in terms of Personal Accident and Critical Illness Policies. These provide features which help augment income in case you cannot report in to work due to major accidents. In addition insurance that is worth considering for senior HR Business partners or top executives of HR Consulting firms is the Keyman Insurance Policies. (More on all these in the subsequent posts.)

What is it that you truly fancy doing with your hard earned monies that you worked so relentlessly for? Would it not be nice to know that your efforts can be enough to fulfil your life dreams? Most likely your answer would be a resounding YES! So then, what is stopping you? Mere inertia? An inherent fear of doing something wrong that can’t be taken back? Lack of knowledge on how to go forward? The questions are many.

And yet, the solution might be as simple as the professional choice that you have made for yourself. Why not consult an expert consultant from the financial advisory field? It is after all why you are hired right? So why the hesistance in doing the same thing for your personal benefit.

As fellow consultants and advisors we believe, like you, that specialization leads to credibility and expertise. And like consultants, we understand that trust is only gained through repeatedly providing sound and quality advice. Being credible and trustworthy is essential, more so in matters of personal finance.

Having a word with a Financial Advisor to make certain your hard earned wealth is doing the right thing may be a good idea and most certainly worth your coveted personal time.

Till then…continue the good job of quality consulting!

 

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MEdical emergencyPilots lead highly strenuous lives. They are responsible for the lives of hundreds of passengers while flying a 200 ton highly advanced and pressurised aircraft. That’s a whole lot of responsibilities!

As such pilots are mandated to maintain high medical fitness standards. These stringent standards are kept in place to ensure pilots remain at the top of their health as long as they are on flying duty. Keeping this in mind, airlines can ground pilots on medical grounds, both temporarily and permanently. In either case, a pilot can face financial insecurities which can hamper his or her life’s plans. Therefore, it is imperative that pilots of today prepare for such kind of medical contingencies.

While avoiding a medical problem completely may not be possible, it is very much possible to mitigate that risk.  This can be done through meticulous planning and understanding what kind of financial products would help in such scenarios.

Firstly, let us look at a scenario where a pilot, say Mr. X, is temporarily grounded on medical grounds. These could be due a variety of reasons such as chest pain, congestion of the lungs, fractures or incapacity to fly due to external/internal injuries, even pregnancies!

A multi pronged approach can be used to deal with such an event:

One, pilots should always take a health insurance for themselves. This can be sought either personally, many times through the employer or certain pilot associations may also provide such policies. A basic health insurance policy helps financially tackle any hospitalisation expenses for general medical procedures. While this is a basic policy which every individual should have, pilots should go one step ahead.

Second, procuring a Personal Accident Insurance and Critical Illness Insurance plan should be very much on the priority list. In a nutshell, a Personal Accident policy involves payout of a lump sum in the event the insured suffers an accident.  Depending on the policy terms, payout is based on the severity of the injuries from the accident. Some policies have a beneficial feature called Temporary Total Disablement. This is a unique feature in which if the insured suffers temporary disablement of a certain severity, the policy mandates to give a weekly payout to the insured for a certain period! This can be highly useful if the insured is grounded for a while and has his/her’s income temporarily suspended. It becomes an ideal income replacement. Some insurance companies provide this feature for a period up to 100 weeks, that’s two years! Also some companies give a compensation up to a total of Rs. 5 lakhs. That is Rs 40,000 p.m. for 2 years. Not a bad proposition.

On the other hand in a Critical Illness policy, a lump sum is handed out to the insured when he/she is diagnosed with a severe illness that is under the coverage of said policy. The critical illnesses covered are kidney failures, some forms of cancer, major burns and major organ transplants to name a few. The lump sum from either policy can be considered as a replacement of income for the insured as the patient is most likely to be out of work for a certain period. As such the usual sum assured of such policies are in multiples of ten lakhs.

Lastly, tackling a temporary grounding is keeping enough monies handy to pay for the various tests and certifications the pilot has to pass to regain status of an active pilot. While some of these tests might be covered by the concerned employer, some might not, depending upon the certification and seniority of the pilot. And a lot of times these certifications have a substantial fee. So a dedicated liquid corpus to handle such situations is always advisable for pilots.

Like a temporary suspension of the job has its own hurdles, permanent grounding due to medical reasons has its own challenges that must be overcome. The biggest issue in such a case is obviously how to cope with the very significant loss of income. On top of that, major medical conditions add to the depletion in assets. Certain medical conditions related to cardiac conditions, optical and vision issues, mental disorders etc are such examples. Hence funding to treat this illness will also have to be arranged.  Such a sudden loss of income results in compromise on expenditure choices, especially lifestyle expenses. This is a hard pill to swallow, especially if you are used to having the best of everything. While holding all above mentioned types of insurance policies goes without saying, in such a case this might not suffice. Hence setting aside a large enough corpus to deal with such an event has to be planned and arranged for. A lot of factors go into deciding what corpus this should be, such as current income, current monthly expenditures, estimates on current big medical surgeries and medication, inflation, age etc. It requires careful factoring of each aspect and coming to a reasonable amount that is feasible for the person but also able enough to help in such scenarios.

All pilots are aware of the risks that go along with not complying with medical and health standards. Yet many a times they blissfully remain ignorant to the fact of preparing for such events. A financial advisor has the required expertise to help with such contingency plans. Including them in such planning could mean all the difference between comfortably navigating a temporary/permanent job loss or leading a life of compromise and constant worry.

So prepare well before takeoff to have a safe flight!

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Retirement 1Retirement is usually something that is not considered by most of us till we are nearing it, so naturally we do not plan for it, until it is probably too late. This general ignorance or lack of attention to retirement planning can have far reaching consequences.

Retirement planning in the simplest sense means preparing for life after the tenure of paid work ends.  This does not only include the financial aspect, but other aspects such as what to do during retirement, the lifestyle choices that one can take and what dreams one might want to pursue during the remainder of the years.

While the concept of Retirement Planning applies to pilots just as it does to other individuals, there are certain unique points that are exclusive to retirement planning for commercial pilots. These unique points are crucial while developing a retirement plan for a pilot.

Firstly, under the current DGCA rules, the retirement age in India has been pushed up to 65. This is an entire 5 years longer than the mandated retirement age in most other industries. This translates to more income earning years, probably at the highest salary slab of the industry, since usually pilots around this age are most likely to have their designations as Captain. This extra income earning period is crucial in formulating and ironing out the retirement plan before the pilot ultimately retires. The significant income flowing could be the difference between living a compromised and a fulfilling retirement.

One of the most important things a commercial pilot has to consider is Lifestyle Inflation. Because commercial pilots have one of the best salary packages amongst all industries, they tend to have more lavish lifestyles. And they are comfortably able to match up the ever increasing expenses that come alongside their lifestyle choices. But on retirement, the salary stops. Yet expenses continue to stay, with inflation only adding to it. But more significantly no one would want to compromise on their lifestyle they have become accustomed to. As such it becomes imperative to plan much ahead so that lifestyle compromises don’t become the norm during your golden years.

Just to drive home the impact of inflation, let’s take an example. Consider a pilot Mr. A, currently 30 years of age and has a monthly expenditure of Rs 12 lakhs every year (not a very high amount, from what we hear from our pilot clientele). Assuming he will retire at age 65 and taking an average of 8% lifestyle inflation till retirement,  the same Rs. 12 lakhs expenditure will inflate to approx Rs. 1.75 crores. In other words, to maintain the lifestyle that costs Rs 12 lakhs as of today, Mr. A would require Rs 1.75 Crores annually to maintain the same expenditure choices, forget upgrading!

Furthermore, pilots are used to having extremely busy schedules. So when retirement hits, they are unprepared to handle the ample time in hand. Hence they always look for options to keep themselves engaged. This could mean, taking long leisure trips or finding, researching on and investing lump sums in “exciting investment avenues”, committing money to be part of a start up or just following their long drawn passions or enrol at the local flying clubs just so that they can regularly indulge their lifetime love of flying. All this comes at hefty financial expenditures.

All of the above means that Pilots would need to plan and develop customized retirement plans for themselves to ensure a smooth flight during retirement.

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