A Journey of a Corporate, from leaving behind his well-set job to starting his own venture!
Welcome to the second episode of Lockdown Entrepreneurs. It’s been a while that we have brought a new inspirational story to share with you. So here we are with a new Lockdown Entrepreneur Smith Shah. He believes that every person should have proper financial planning to secure their funds for hard times.
The pandemic has impacted everyone’s lives so deep that we might require much more time to move forward or heal ourselves, be it financially or emotionally. Emotional drainage might heal after a given time. But the financial impact can be rectified after giving a thought with proper planning done with the help of an industry expert.
And that’s how he started giving out financial advice to his family members and colleagues who were in need of financial planning for themselves without charging a single penny!
So let’s hear his story, and get to know his journey!
Finden: How is the pandemic situation in your city now?
Smith: As we all know that Mumbai was one of the worst-hit cities in India, however luckily, things have now gone back to normal. Even the lifeline of Mumbai, the ‘locals’ is now open for everyone, although with some restrictions. Everything is now functioning as they were during the pre-COVID days, with masks on your face being the new normal.
Finden: How did it affect you and the people around you?
Smith: By God’s grace, we were secured from a financial perspective, as for me and my wife we both had our jobs intact with the work from home model. In general, definitely even we were affected, like my dad was at home, with our shop shut for more than 6 months. We did not receive rent on our flat, as the tenant was not in a position to pay rents, due to a slowdown in his business. Also, since I belong to a Gujarati family, the majority of my relatives are in business, who had to suffer financially, due to the shutdown of business for almost half a year. Once things started opening up, before Diwali, all my relatives were back to business, and hence many of them were tested positive for the coronavirus, which was a bit disturbing.
Finden: What were the struggles that you and your colleagues or friends faced?
Smith: Honestly, there were no struggles when I compare myself to many others, who had to even struggle for their basic necessities. The only issue we faced was that we were locked up inside the 4 walls for almost 6 months, which I suppose was the thing with everyone. There was no difference left between the personal life and work-life, and with no outdoor activity or entertainment on weekends, things started to get a bit frustrating.
Finden: How did you help other people with Financial planning?
Smith: This journey started, when I got to know that a few of my friends were fired from their job during the lockdown phase. One of them had a big EMI waiting for him at the start of every month, and with the loss of his job, I am sure he had to face a tough time. I was very shocked to know that those guys, despite being a CA or MBA in finance (basically from a finance background), lacked some basic financial planning.
We all know how COVID showed a bad time to many of our near and dear ones, financially.
So, I decided to do my part and spread awareness regarding financial planning. It started with a few informal discussions and guidance followed by formal sessions.
Finden: Do you charge people for the sessions that you take?
Smith: No. As I said, my intention was to only spread awareness, I took the session free of cost.
Finden: How did you give sessions to the people/clients?
Smith: There were multiple options:
- Online: In the initial COVID days, due to lockdown and other restrictions, I used to take the sessions on Skype, Google Meet, or Zoom, depending on the convenience of attendees.
- On-Call: For some individuals, who required specific guidance, we discussed it over calls.
- Meetings: Once we started to come out of lockdown, I started taking sessions even at one’s office or society if we had 5-10 attendees together. I don’t mind giving my 2-3 hours if we have genuine people interested to learn or understand the fundamentals of financial planning.
Finden: What challenges did you face initially while doing these services?
Smith: As I mentioned, that the sessions are offered free of cost, there weren’t any major issues, as I gave my time out of passion and people generally never complain about what they get for free. However, I observed that:
- People don’t value free advice, or rather don’t take you seriously.
- Since it is about investments, we definitely need patience. But within two months or so, I started receiving calls that we have started investing, but it is not yielding anything fruitful. People want their money to double in a few months, which is practically not possible. At times, it got difficult to make them understand and I believe that it is mainly because of a lack of knowledge related to products and their features. Hopefully, I will succeed in filling this gap of lack of knowledge.
Finden: How was the response from the people that you approached?
Smith: I tried to take feedback from every individual after the session. The feedback was quite positive which motivated me to keep going. Few attendees who had some financial background mentioned that although they knew about a few things we discussed, these sessions acted as a reminder or affirmation on what needs to be done. Although they were aware of a few things, they never acted on it because of laziness, or shortage of time for planning. These sessions acted as a reminder or as a confirmation, to act on pending things.
Finden: Are you planning to monetize your session to the big people/clients who are in need of financial advice?
Smith: I have no plans to charge for the session, as I am happy to spread the basic awareness for free. The intention is not to earn here, but to feed the required knowledge which can help an individual attain financial freedom.
Finden: When did you realise that now it’s time that you should leave your job and dedicate your full time towards building and working towards your venture?
Smith: To date, I followed this out of my passion and love for financial markets. I take financial planning sessions, run a few WhatsApp groups, (where I share some basics about investments, what to do about your equity investment, my expectations in equity markets, and so on), and also run my Mutual fund distribution business (started five years ago).
Thanks to COVID, I realized my passion for these sessions and how much involved I am when it comes to financial markets. Hence after a lot of brainstorming and guidance, I took this adventurous or thrilling decision to quit my job and follow my passion.
Considering my experience in the mutual fund distribution business for the last 5 years and experience in the equities market of more than 8 years, I decided to come up with a financial planning cum advisory business “Money Mentors”, where one can get anything and everything about investments under one roof. It will also offer products like Mutual funds, Motor, Life, and General Insurance, Health Insurance, Sovereign Bonds, NCDs, Post Office Financial Products, and so on.
Finden: What are 5 tips that you would like to give to our readers when it comes to financial planning?
- Start Early / Start Now: I have seen many individuals giving reasons for lower earnings or more obligations/ responsibilities, because of which they can’t start or focus on investments. I feel those are all excuses and it is not about the availability of funds but is the habit that one has to develop. One should develop this habit of saving right from when one starts receiving his/her pocket money and start investing with as low as Rs. 500. Start early and let the theory of compounding do the magic for you.
- Insurance Planning: Before investments, one should take care of Life and Health/ Medical Insurance, as financial protection comes way before financial investments.
- Systematic Investment Plan (SIP): Good markets or Bad markets – Be a regular investor.
- Diversify your investments: Never put all your eggs in one basket. However, do not invest in any product which you don’t understand. Take proper guidance/advice before investing in complex products.
- Keep your emotions/bias in control: Have a plan and stick to it. Extraordinary profits or losses should not play your mind.
That was his story, a journey from being in the corporate to being an entrepreneur! If you are one like him, do share your story with us and we will make sure to share your story with our readers and help them get inspiration in their lives.
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