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Posts Tagged ‘Financial Planning’

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Just like during the rest of his tenor, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan avoided the theatrics and playing to the gallery with his last monetary policy. He maintained status quo on interest rates in today’s monetary policy review, much along expected lines. Going forward, whilst there will be a new RBI governor, policy decisions will be taken by a Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) and appointment of the members is under process for the same.

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Your investments

Whilst the RBI governor did flag off some inflationary concerns due to the seventh pay commission impact, one could continue to expect a positive real rate of return due to a reduction in food inflation on the back of good monsoons. This could eventually bring down CPI inflation.The policy had an accommodative stance which means there could be a possibility of a rate cut going forward. On the domestic front there are a lot of positives like a pickup in Industrial production in May, indication of green shoots in manufacturing with Purchasing Managers and the RBIs industrial outlook indicating pick up in new orders, increased business confidence, Services sector PMI at 18 months high and early indications of a turnaround in exports. These should result in better corporate earnings in the coming quarters, supporting current market valuations which are a premium to long term averages.

On the FCNR (B) deposits maturity coming up over the next few months, RBI has said around 80-85% will be delivered through forwards and any shortfall will be adjusted from existing Foreign exchange reserves. They will intervene in case of increased volatility. The RBI will continue to support liquidity by conducting open market operations. With chances of falling food inflation on one hand and upside risk to inflation coming from the 7th pay commission on the other side, it is difficult to predict when the next rate cut will take place. Therefore, you need to have a blend of fixed income strategies in your portfolio including hold to maturity, acrrual and dynamic products where managers have the flexibility to decide where it may be most appropraite to invest.

Your loans

RBI mentioned it will analyse the impact of the MCLR (Marginal Cost of funds based lending rate) and make changes to if required. Therefore, on the loan side nothing changes unless the MCLR rate moves further down, which is expected to be a gradual process.

Way Ahead

With Raghuram Rajan’s term ending on September 4, 2016, the appointment of a new RBI Governor and formation of Monetary Policy Committee(MPC) means that we should watch out for whether we see more of the same in the next bi monthly policy on October 4, 2016, or whether there will be a big change from the past.

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A large number of NRIs do not file taxes, as they live overseas and therefore believe that there is no need. However, there are two major situations when NRIs should file returns in India. Firstly, if the income earned in India exceeds the maximum permissible limit as basic exemption. At this point, the maximum exemption limit is Rs. 250,000. Incomes like salary arising from services provided in India, income from house property, capital gains arising from sale of property in India, income from deposits held in India will be taxable in India. Secondly, they should be filed to claim return if deducted tax is more than what was payable, so that you can claim a refund.

There are two major situations when NRIs should file returns in India. Firstly, if the income earned in India exceeds the maximum permissible limit as basic exemption. At this point, the maximum exemption limit is Rs. 250,000. Incomes like salary arising from services provided in India, income from house property, capital gains arising from sale of property in India, income from deposits held in India will be taxable in India. Secondly, they should be filed to claim return if deducted tax is more than what was payable, so that you can claim a refund.

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A lot of NRIs are unaware of the fact that in order to track expenses and investments above a certain threshold for all individuals – residents or NRIs, Annual Information Reports (AIRs) have to be filed by various entities in India like banks, Mutual funds,  bond issuers, registrars for real estate purchases above a certain value, amongst other transactions. Therefore, you could get a notice due to these reasons if your name appears in an AIR and you are not filing tax returns. Whilst this may not mean that taxes are due, you will need to respond to the notice, which can be rather challenging if you are out of the country. Thus, it is advisable to have your taxes in India in order.

If you are a tax resident in geographies where you may be able to take tax advantage of the double taxation avoidance treaty between India and that country, you must take advantage of that. If you sell direct equity/stocks, short term capital gain applicable is 15%. The long term capital gain on sale of direct equity is Nil ie for equities held over 1 year. NRIs have to trade through a broker if they wish to invest in direct equities. They can trade only on delivery basis and intraday trades are not allowed. They have to open a Portfolio Investment Scheme (PIS) account where their trades get reported within 24 hours.

If you are a tax resident in geographies where you may be able to take tax advantage of the double taxation avoidance treaty between India and that country, you must take advantage of that.

Debt and Equity Mutual Fundshave different tax rules. For equity Mutual funds the tax rate applicable is 15% for holding period of less than 12 months and for holding period of greater than 12 months it is Nil. Non equity mutual funds ie debt funds, gold funds, are taxed like real estate ie the tax rate for a holding period of less than 36 months is as per the marginal rate. If you hold them for a period greater than 36 months a long term capital gain tax rate of 20% with indexation is applicable .

If you are looking at investment options to save for your retirement goal then New Pension Scheme is an option you can look at. NRIs are allowed to invest in NPS.

NPS is useful for NRIs living in Middle Eastern countries, since they do not have mandatory social security benefits in their countries of residence unlike many other geographies. NRIs own contribution is eligible for tax deduction u/s 80CCD (1) of income tax act up to 10% of gross income with overall ceiling of Rs. 1.50 lakhs u/s 80CCE of income tax act.From FY 201516investors are allowed tax deduction of additional Rs. 50,000 under 80CCD1(B).

NRIs wishingto invest in FDs can look at Foreign Currency Non Resident ( FCNR) deposits. It is in the form of a fixed Term deposit account denominated in foregin currencies. In this case NRIs can park overseas income as foreign currency in India without having toconvert it to Indian Rupees. The rates on these deposits depend on tenure of investment and the currency in which you park your funds. Principal and interest are fully repatriable. For NRIs interest is not taxable in India. However, they could be taxed in the country of residence of the NRI, for example in the US. Similar is the case with NRE accounts.

A resident foreign currency account (RFC) account can be used by NRIs who are returning back to settle in India, to park overseas income as foreign currency in India without having to convert them into rupees. Funds are fully repatriable and can be transferred from RFC to NRE and vice versa. Interest earned on RFC account will be exempt from income tax as long as you are Resident but not ordinary resident (RNOR).

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Retirement is when you stop living at work and start working at living!

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Retirement is not merely a goal but it’s a journey. There is more to it beyond merely planning for a desired sum as your retirement corpus.

Now that you are retired and you have an accumulated corpus with you, you have to plan wisely in order to sustain the sum till the end.

Expense management

The starting point of your exercise will be to have an expense pattern which you broadly have to stick to. There are many changes which will occur in your expense pattern now that you are retired.

Your retirement expenses will also have phases. Initially in your60s you may see a certain type of expenses going up. For example travel expenses. Now that you have all the time for yourself and your spouse, you may wish to go for multiple vacations –  either domestic or international. Another expense that may increase could be group memberships. You may join a hobby group or a club of your choice. Also it will take some time for your lifestyle to undergo a change so your lifestyle expenses may not change much in the first few years. Later on with age your choices and preferences may change. For instance you may no longer prefer restaurants as often, as you used to prefer at one point in time.

As you move towards your 70s your medical expenses may increase. Your medical costs will go up due to need for regular checkups and dependence on medicines. Health insurance and critical insurance do not cover your costs after a certain age. Even if they do, the cost is very high as the premiums increase with age. Therefore having a health care provision for your retirement is critical.

Plan for a regular and tax efficient stream of income

Another major change is that you will no longer receive any regular salary or business income.

Now that you have an accumulated sum, you have to plan your investments in a manner so that you can have a regular and a tax efficient stream of income. Do not be overly aggressive or overly conservative. Whilst the exact investment strategy may vary from person to person, the focus should be to maintain and grow at least a part of your existing wealth.

On the asset allocation front you have to move a portion of your investments into debt/fixed income instruments, and allocate a limited portion towards equity.

In order to have a regular stream of income you can start a Systematic Withdrawal Plan (SWP) from your existing set of mutual fund investments.  Opting for a dividend payout option could attract Dividend Distribution Tax, especially for non equity oriented funds. Therefore, SWPs can work well. Also dividendscould be irregular at times depending on dividend paying history of the fund but in an SWP you can choose a fix amount that you wish to withdraw.

You can also invest in the senior citizen savings scheme as it provides a better rate of interest amount compared to other small savings scheme options.Do remember that small savings rates have gone down and will be altered on quarterly basis going forward.

You can also look at Bank FDs. These provide an additional 0.25% to 0.50% extra rate to senior citizens which varies from bank to bank. Company FDs can be a slightly riskier option as compared to bank FDs.

If you have a self occupied property which you feel is no more needed since you kids have moved out and it’s only you and your spouse who need to stay, you might consider selling it and buying two smaller properties. One you can use as self occupied and other you can use to let out to avail regular rental income. Do consider the capital gains tax angle to it.

Make a will

It is a very important step. This makes transfer of wealth to your future generation smooth and hassle free.

Also have a nominee attached to all your investments and insurance so that there is succession challenges are reduced. Also make sure that someone knows where all you wealth and investments are lying so that your family does not have to struggle to get what you have left behind for them.

Have a Happy Retirement!

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Just the thought of retirement can cause anxiety and many feel overwhelmed and unprepared. People who have planned their retirement early and saved enough regularly throughout their earning years are comfortable and plan their retirement better. However, in case you have not done so,  here’s how you can plan your retirement when you are in the last decade before your retirement age.

  1. How much money would you need?

The first question one must ask is ‘how much income would I need to maintain my current lifestyle in retirement?’

If the assumption is too high, the goal of retirement may seem absolutely unattainable, and the entire planning process is discouraging.  If the assumption is too low, which is most often the case, the retiree could run into a difficult financial situation later in life and have to make drastic, unwanted changes.

Keep in mind that retirees spend more on travel, entertainment and eating out especially earlier on in retirement, when they have the time and good health to enjoy those activities.

  1. Consider Health care cost:

One of the most overlooked areas of retirement planning is estimating what health care costs could be in retirement, and including this in the calculation of income needs.

Please remember that these could be a combination of recurring and one time costs, and medical inflation tends to be much higher than regular inflation. By overlooking this large potential outlay, retirees could feel strapped for cash in their most vulnerable years.

  1. Choosing the right investment product

It is important to save for retirement, but it is equally important to choose the right investment product. Since the tenure to retirement is in the range of 5 to 10 years, one should look at the mix of growth assets which give inflation beating returns and fixed income instruments which provide stability in returns and liquidity.

 

  1. Estate Planning:

Many people think they don’t need to do any sort of estate planning. Estate planning in necessary to eliminate uncertainties over the administration and inheritance of all your assets and to maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses.  Writing a Will and creating a trust if necessary are some form of Estate Planning.

 

Remember that this phase could coincide with some big expenses for your children, but don’t compromise your retirement in the process. Remember there are no retirement loans, so avoid emotional decisions that could create a challenge in your retirement.

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Insurance is an important part of Financial Planning. Let’s understand whether you have chosen the right life insurance policy for yourself.

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Term Insurance – A must have

How does it work?

Term insurance is the most basic type of life insurance. It provides cover for a defined period of time. If something happens to the insured in the period in which he holds the policy then the nominee will be in receipt of the sum assured.

The amount of life insurance cover that you need will be based on your income multiple. Also while deciding the amount of cover you should consider the regular expenses of your family, the ongoing liabilities, the value of important goals like child education and wedding and reduce the value of your available assets to get to the amount of cover that you will need to buy.

Is it a good choice?

This is a must have for all those who have dependants. If something happens to you the Sum Assured will help your family maintain the same standard of living as before.

There could also be a case where you have enough wealth, at some stage in your life then you will not need life insurance cover because your wealth will be sufficient for your family to lead a decent standard of living. The other situation could be when you have saved enough for your regular expenses both retirement and post retirement or you have some regular stream of income like rental income or payouts like interest and dividends from your investments which will be sufficient to sustain your family’s expense needs. Also if that point in time you are in your 50s when your kids may start to become independent and most of you important goals like children’s education and wedding have been taken care of, in this situation also you may not need insurance cover.

Whole life plans

How does it work?

A term plan provides a life cover for a limited period. On the other hand a whole life policy is in force till the insured is alive. The whole life policy gives you an option to pay the premium till a certain age. On the death of the insured the Sum will be paid to the nominee. Whole life policy is mostly used for estate creation purposes.

Is it a good choice?

If it is bought at an early age the premiums are lower. The lower premium for the rest of your life is an advantage that you will get if you have bought your policy early. It is certainly not a good idea if you buy it closer to retirement again because premiums will be high due to age.

Endowment Plan

How does it work?

It is designed to pay a lumpsum after a specific term either on its maturity or on death whichever is earlier. Mostly the maturities range between 10, 15 or 20 years.

Is it a good choice?

It is a traditional life insurance product, suitable for conservative investors but the returns are rather low. So it better to invest in a debt or an equity product for the purpose of earning returns.

Money Back Policy

How does it work?

Money back policies generally give you a fixed percentage of your sum assured every few years. For eg you may have a twenty year money back plan which may give you 15% of your sum assured every five years and on maturity you will receive the balance amount along with bonus if any.

Is it a good choice?

These policies give a guaranteed sum of money on the date as mentioned in the policy document but if you sit back and calculate the returns that you may have made on your policy against the premiums that you have paid, they tend to be very low. If you would invest the same sum of money that you are paying towards your premium into any other debt or equity instrument as per your asset allocation, it will yield comparatively better returns.

ULIP

How does it work?

A Unit Linked Insurance Plan (ULIP) is product which offers you a combination of insurance cover and investment. A ULIP is a market linked product. They take money from investors and invest in a combination of stocks and bonds that you choose, and are structured like mutual funds. They have a lock in period of 5 years. ULIPs have a multiple charges that need to b analysed carefully before you decide what is to be done. ey does not get invested.

Is it a good choice?

The higher initial charges and lock-in makes ULIPs unattractive, along with the lack of flexibility of changing managers along the way in case of underperformance.

Our view,

Insurance and investments should be kept separate. Insurance should be bought for the purpose of buying a life cover. Therefore, when it comes to life insurance a term plan is ideally what you should look at.

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“The only real battle in life is between hanging on and letting go.”

― Shannon L.

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This is exactly what you need to ask yourself while reviewing your existing set of investments.

Once you have decided your goals, you need to review your existing investments. This will give you a sense on which is the ones that are not doing well so that they can be replaced. It will also help you understand based on your asset allocation and goals that going forward where you need to invest so that your investments are in line with your goals.

You may be having some investments in stocks, Mutual funds, Real estate, fixed deposits, gold, etc. Or there are even chances that your investments may be concentrated in some of the assets.

Here’s what you can do

Stocks and Mutual Funds

If you have stocks in your portfolio and you understand bit of markets then you can decide based on what is happening in the economy, what are the sectors that are outperforming or under performing at that point in time, the demand environment, the credit environment, etc.  and accordingly decide whether you want to keep it or sell it.

A better way to do this would be by investing through Mutual Funds. There you will benefit from the expertise of the fund manager. It will also save you from micromanaging at security level. With the introduction of direct plans, you can now invest by paying a lesser expense ratio compared to a regular plan. Mutual funds can be used to take exposure in equity, both domestic and international, debt, mix of debt and equity through balanced or Monthly income plans, commodities and index.

Fixed Deposits

If you have Bank or company Fixed Deposits or Post office investments then you need to see the rate that you are getting on your FD and what is the interest rate expectation going forward. If your FD is due to mature shortly and there is expectation that interest rates are going to fall, similar to the current scenario, then either you lock in now at the existing higher rates or when your FD matures you can reinvest it in some other investment instrument depending on your goals. In FDs also there are Bank FDs and Company FDs. Company FDs offer comparatively higher returns but remember to focus on quality

Real estate

It’s not a great idea to lock in 70 to 80% of your wealth in real estate. Real estate has its own cycles of boom and depression. It’s difficult to sell these at the price of your choice. They are certainly not assets which can be sold immediately due to their illiquid nature. Doing so will need you to settle at lower prices. In real estate also there are some pieces which appreciate faster based on demand environment, location, etc. while some of them do not see much appreciation again due to unfavorable location, lack of demand, etc. Therefore, try to sell that piece of your property which is not yielding good returns and channelize your investments in some liquid and appreciating investments.

Gold

Indians have emotional value attached to gold. These days there are options like sovereign gold bonds and Gold ETFs which can fetch you returns both in the form of value appreciation and interest. Going forward you can start this paperless form of investing into gold.

Remember,

Keep the investments which are doing fine and have a good future outlook, and allocate them to your goals. Give up the ones which are loss making and you do not see a scope of recovery any time soon. It’s important to cut losses when required.

Last but not the least, remember why you are investing – don’t miss the forest for the trees.

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