An open letter to Health Insurance Company from its customer

Dear Insurance Company

    1. ,

Hi, I am your Mediclaim Customer. I am 30 years old, married, have a kid. I own a house in the suburbs of Mumbai and have recently bought a small car. I am well read, and hence fairly aware of basics of financial planning and securing my future. Yes, I believe in Insurance. I bought my first insurance policy (term life) when I was 23 years old. Yes, I know, I am the type of customer, who you vie for – I am the one who appears as “Sec A2” – target customer right at the top of all your sales spreadsheets and presentations.

Health Insurance India

I have been your customer since 2007. It started off pretty well. I received fairly good service from your end. But…lately, I have been very uneasy with our relationship. In fact, I think I have lost trust in you. OK. Stop getting surprised; I know you are  part of a group valued in Multi billion dollars ; I know you have presence in 100s of countries worldwide, you surpass all the solvency norms set by the regulator, and yes, your claims settlements are improving . But I have still lost trust in you. Can you help? Please give me your 5 minutes to explain.

4 years back, when I was 26 years old, I decided to buy my own health insurance policy. I had a cover in my dad’s policy, but my calculations showed that I was not covered adequately. I therefore approached a health insurance broker. He did a good job, helping me compare various mediclaim policies available in the market, and took me through how this whole mediclaim thing works. I signed up for the most attractive one (the one which had the best features and the lowest price).  I was proud I had done my homework, just like my dad would.

Two renewals had passed, when I received the 3rd years’ Renewal Notice. The renewal notice talked about increase in premium by a shocking 500%, with the reason “adverse claims ratio and Medical Inflation” mentioned on the letter. A premium of Rs. 3000 for 2 Lakhs coverage for a family of 3, has increased to Rs. 13000! OK, I understand Medical  inflation, but I am sure it wouldn’t have been grown more than 50%, then how was the remaining 450% increase in premium to be understood? Did I have a role to play in the adverse claims ratio you faced? Could I have helped avoiding it? At first, I was sure, the premium mentioned was a printing error, but when I realized it was correct, I felt cheated and went berserk. I called the Broker (who himself was shocked, and worried), set up con-calls with the Insurance Company’s representatives, escalated the matter to the regional office, all I received were templated/recorded answers….Phew…I finally gave up.

I refused to renew the policy with this company, and heroicly pledged not to deal with this organization ever. My Broker suggested I port my mediclaim policy to another player. This time, I made sure this player was an ethical, reliable name. I finally zeroed on to a large Insurance company which had an alliance with supposedly “the world’s largest insurance company”.

I moved on.

Cut to today, I recently received a call from my Broker, the health insurance company had removed the No Claim Bonus of Discount completely from my renewed policy this year, without citing any reasons at all. I got this strange feeling of déjà vu.  Forget prior information, I was expecting some communication from this big brand, but there was none. In this world of extreme transparency and hyper competition, I am amazed at this unusual apathy shown by the best of world Health Insurance Companies in India. (Read 17 Most asked questions in Health Insurance)

When I called the Insurance Company representative, all he said is that Medical Insurance is a “yearly contract”, and terms are subject to change on renewal.  A yearly contract!??!!? Whoa? When this medical policy was sold (twice by different providers) to me, I was explained various clauses in details like 2 years waiting periods, 4 years continuous renewals and the USP – “lifetime guaranteed renewal”. How can a mediclaim which assures lifetime renewal be a yearly contract?? Isn’t this a classic paradox?

OK, I know you are busy….So let me stop complaining, forget the past, and give you one more chance, the last one. Let me plan for my all critical post retirement/old age Healthcare costs. So now I understand the mediclaim policy is a yearly contract. I understand, you are making losses, you are unable to control the claims in Health Insurance and you are “forced” to make these “small” changes in the contract, every year. And yes, I should feel fortunate, that second time on, you atleast did not increase the premium by 500%.

I understand all that, but looking at the rampant changes you have been making in the policy wordings and process, I am really in a fix. I am now not sure what the policy would evolve into when I reach my old age. The way things are moving, the one thing, I am sure of is that the policy would be gravely different from what it is today (I am sure, a money making product for you, by then)

So, How do I predict the policy conditions and plan my post retirement healthcare expenditure?

Till when, and to what extent you would keep changing the terms? How do I assure myself, that the terms would be favorable for someone like me who bought his policy at 26, paid you premium, without claims for 14 years, from someone who is 40 that time and is buying a fresh policy??

Now, I am getting really confused. When you sold the product you encouraged me to buy these, clearly calling them “long term investment”, and now, on renewal you are calling it a “yearly contact”. Would you continue to guarantee lifetime renewals, or would you add restrictions on co-pay, remove no claim bonus, remove all large hospitals from the cashless network or worse, spike the rates by 500% every year, when I am growing older?.

Now, it’s all boiling down to plain trust. How should I trust a selectively transparent, for-profit organization like you? Is Mediclaim a policy with long term commitments or is it a yearly contract?

Would love to hear an answer. Can you help?


Your Health Insurance Customer.

Disclaimer : Though, the concern being raised is real, please do note that, this is a work of fiction by the writer. The Insurance companies described in this post, do not add up to targeting any specific company.

This article originally appeared on Medimanage blog and reproduced on this blog with their permission.

Balanced Funds Performance – HDFC Prudence vs HDFC Top 200

Have there been times when you thought of investing in Balanced funds like HDFC Prudence, but did not invest because you wanted to invest in pure equity funds with maximum exposure to equity? If yes, than you need to rethink this thought because balanced funds have performed superior than equity funds in some cases and given their diluted exposure to equity as compared to that of a pure equity fund, the returns are really worth considering. So here you go-

What are Balanced Funds ?

Balanced funds are Equity Mutual funds, which are not as aggressive and as pure equity diversified mutual funds and keep equity component in the range of 60%-75% and rest in Debt products or Cash. By definition you can see that Balanced funds are not exposed to equity in the same way as regular equity diversified funds whose equity exposure is generally 95% or more in an average scenario. Balanced funds keep a balance between equity and debt, with equity still being the higher component.

For example, HDFC Prudence keeps its equity allocation around 75% in most of the cases and rest 25% in debt or cash. However, Reliance Regular Savings Balanced is generally low on equity and keeps it around 60-65%, but from last some months, it has raised its equity exposure to 70%, but hasn’t touched its limit of 75% ever! . From tax point of view, any mutual fund which has equity component more than 65% is considered as “Equity Fund” and long term capital gains are exempted from tax after one year just like an pure equity equity fund .

Balanced funds Returns less risky than Pure equity mutual funds

As balanced funds are lower on equity exposure, the fall in case of market crash is lower than pure diversified funds. For example, during the financial crisis of 2008, balanced funds lost only 42% as compared with 53% drop in returns by diversified equity funds.

Lets also see another example of Reliance Regular Saving Balanced fund, its NAV was around 17.27 on 1st Jan 2008, exactly after 1 yr on 1st Jan 2009, its NAV fell to 11.26 which is 34.78% drop, where one of the best diversified equity fund from Reliance AMC called Reliance Regular Saving NAV was 30.28 on 1st Jan 2008 and it dropped to 14.05, which is 53.6% drop. After that in next 2 yrs, Reliance Regular Balanced fund has given a return of 110% , where as Reliance Regular Saving Equity gave a 137% return, which shows that Pure equity fund gave much better return than balanced funds in 2 yrs time frame (Jan 2009- Jan 2011). But the most interesting thing is to look at the 3 yrs return starting from Jan 2008 to Jan 2011, which shows that the return of Reliance Regular Balanced fund was 137% where as the return of Reliance Regular Saving Equity was 110%, which shows that if you also consider the crash of 2008 into the overall scenario, Balanced fund out performed Pure equity fund by a considerable margin.

Comparision of Returns from Reliance Regular Saving Balanced and Reliance regular Saving Equity Funds

Balanced vs Equity funds Comparision

Main Advantage of  Balanced Funds

Balanced funds have to maintain their ratios of splitting between equity and debt by fixed percentage. In order to do so, the fund has to keep on buying and selling from time to time which leads to the concept of Asset Allocation. So, if a balanced fund has a ratio of 70:30 (Equity: Debt) and suppose it reached to 77:23, the fund manage will make sure that he sells the excess part of equity to rebalance the fund back to 70:30. However in equity funds, if the ratio itself was 98:2 earlier, despite the big run in markets, the equity part will still remain around the same ratio and there is no question of asset allocation.

So the conclusion is that the asset allocation is the internal advantage available to Balanced funds which leads to superior returns over longer term, but in short term, balanced funds will not out perform pure equity based funds incase there was a bull run. You always have to give balanced funds a long time to see the performance.

Performance of Balanced Funds vs Equity Funds

Can you imagine HDFC Prudence out-performing HDFC Top 200 despite having a low equity exposure compared to HDFC Top 200? Yes, it has happened! Now let me show you some statistics which I found out.

SIP investment in HDFC Top 200 vs HDFC Prudence

Over the last 14 yrs from Jan 1997 to Mar 2011, if you had done a SIP investment of Rs. 1,000 per month in HDFC Prudence, it would have become Rs 13.6 lacs and return turns out to be 25.93% CAGR. However if you had invested the same 1,000 per month in HDFC top 200, it would have become 13.9 lacs and return turns out to be 26.20% CAGR, marginally more … Which shows that despite having much lower equity exposure, HDFC Prudence has given almost equal returns like HDFC Top 200, which in my opinion can be called out-performance. Here is the chart of how the corpus was moving in both HDFC Prudence and HDFC top 200 for 14 yrs (SIP of Rs 1,000/month).

HDFC top 200 vs HDFC Prudence comparision

Lumpsum Investments in HDFC Top 200 vs HDFC Prudence

Now let’s come to lumpsum investment. Imagine you invested Rs 1 lac in HDFC Prudence on 1st Jan 1997 and I invest the same money in HDFC Top 200 on same date. We both redeem our investments on 11th Mar 2011. Who will have more money? Answer is it would be You, You will have around Rs 24 lacs (CAGR return = 24.94%), whereas I will have approx 21 lacs (CAGR return = 23.78%). See the chart below to look at how the corpus moved per month in case of one time lumpsum investment.

HDFC top 200 vs HDFC Prudence comparision

Some more statistics on Balanced Funds

  1. In the last 10 yrs , the return from HDFC Prudence is 29.38% . Only 2 Equity Diversified funds has outperformed HDFC Prudance in true sense, which are Reliance vision and HDFC Top 200
  2. HDFC Prudence 5 yrs returns is 17.93% cagr and its more than pure equity funds (The best return is from HDFC top 200 at 17.90%)
  3. HDFC Prudence returns have outperformed all the equity diversified equity funds in 3 yrs time frame, HDFC Prudence returns for 3 years is 18.65% and the best equity diversified funds in 3 yrs time frame was Mirae Asset India Opportunities Regular with returns of 17.88%
  4. The average of top 5 balanced funds return in last 5 yrs was 15.88% (17.93 , 16.97 , 15.54 , 14.55 , 14.40) and average of top 5 equity diversified funds was 16.63% (17.9 , 17.63 , 16.88 , 15.72 , 15)
  5. The average of top 10 equity diversified funds in last 10 yrs was 27.67% , balanced funds was 22.57%

List of good Balanced Mutual Funds

List of Balanced mutual Funds

Source of Data : All the data is taken from Valueresearch , and for growth category of mutual funds , not dividend , All data as on 19/04/2011 .

Do you invest in balanced funds ? What you think it would be wise to invest in balanced funds compared to pure equity funds ? Share your thoughts on this HDFC Prudence vs HDFC Top 200 comparision which must have shown you difference between equity funds and balanced funds

Are you suffering from Mental Accounting ?

Do you know that majority of the problems in your financial life are purely because of psychological reasons? We are all humans and are prone to think irrationally at times, due to which, a lot many wrong decisions are taken in our personal finance. Behavioural Finance is the area of finance that combines psychology and finance together and gives you an insight as to how a common man makes mistakes in his decisions. Today, I am going to talk about on its concept called ‘Mental Accounting’.

Mental Accounting

Lets imagine a scenario, which will give you a brief idea on mental accounting .

Scenario 1 : You and your wife visit an electronics showroom with the intention to buy a Laptop. After browsing various products you finalize a nice laptop with the price tag of Rs. 40,000. Just when you were to swipe your credit card, the couple behind you mentioned that another showroom about 3 blocks away (15 min drive max) is selling the same laptop for Rs. 39,800. Will you consider driving 15 mins to save Rs.200? Majority of us will not do so!

Scenario 2 : You and your wife visit the same electronics showroom to buy 4 GB Pendrive costing Rs.400. However, you come to know that this product is available for Rs.200 at another showroom which is 15 mins drive. So will you now choose to drive another 15 mins to buy this Pendrive? Most of us will happily choose to drive 15 mins to the second showroom.

If you look at both the scenarios, you will notice that both scenario 1 and scenario 2 are exactly the same, they both will save you Rs. 200 and both requires you to drive 15 min. Exactly same, no difference. But most of the people will choose the first showroom only in scenario 1 and will choose second showroom in scenario 2.

Why does this happen ?

Truly speaking, this happens because of Mental Accounting which makes Rs. 200 saved on laptop not a significant amount because its just 0.5% of the original price. Whereas, Rs. 200 saved on Pendrive looks attractive and substantial bargain because its 50% of the original cost.

What is Mental Accounting ?

Mental Accounting is very simple to understand. What makes is a crucial aspect to understand is the different ways we treat money depending on situation and its source. We often concentrate on the situation and the source of money in terms of the amount of hard work we put to get that money and all these points makes us human to fall prey to treat same amount of money in different ways. But coming back to the facts, Money is Money and it doesn’t matter where it comes from!

So, if you earn Rs. 100 from 3 different sources- Lottery, Salary or Tax Refund, all of them should mean the same as they all have the same purchasing power. Forget how you got it; all of that Rs.100 is valuable equally!

Personal Experience of Mental Accouting

Let me share on how I myself was a victim of Mental Accounting. Some 2 years back, when I did my first stock market trade in F&O. I made Rs. 2000 as profit on an investment of Rs. 6000 in the matter of 2 hours (options trading). This increase of Rs. 2000 actually increased my overall wealth, but to me it was ‘Cheap Money’. Naturally, I had made plans to spend this money and I had no 2nd thoughts on NOT spending. The decision to spend money was not at all rational, but it was fast money which came from stock market and it came without any hard work. Mental Accounting was doing its job in my mind!! Carefully evaluating the situation, all what happened here was that my networth went up by Rs. 2000 and I took out Rs. 2000 and SPENT it!


6 Examples of how our personal finance decisions are based on Mental Accouting

1. Treating some money as “Free-Money” or “Loose-money”

Most of us label money based on where it comes from, by doing so the value of that money appears to be less. E.g. if you get food coupons from your company, you will not consider it as cash! At the last company I worked at, it was amazing to see that people didn’t mind paying up to Rs.50 for Food Coupons for friends, but if the same person had to spend Rs. 10 hard cash, he will not be willing to do so. Food coupons have same purchasing power (at least in limited environment) as cash, so one should be treating it in the same way and not being bias just because it’s not in the form of currency. What I really want to know is that what will happen if companies start providing cash equivalent of these food coupons???

Another example can be with the money that we get from tax refunds, cash gifts on events etc…etc… We all in our heads label these as ‘Cash, but not as valuable’. Imagine that you got Rs. 2000 as your tax refund and you are more likely to be spending this money rather than the willingness you would have to spend from your salary. Also imagine that some friend gave you Rs. 1000 as gift voucher, will you even bother researching on what products can this voucher buy??? In the same way, if you earn yourself a bonus of Rs. 50,000; you will be more inclined to spend it on a holiday or for buying some item for the house. Would you do the same thing with the money from your salary??

So the message is clear, don’t label money as ‘salary money’, ‘tax refund money’, ‘bonus money’ or ‘Gift money’. It’s just MONEY!

2. Holding Stocks and Mutual funds with Loss

Mental Accounting is visible in buying and selling of equity products like stocks and mutual funds. Consider a person who bought shares at Rs. 100 each and the current price drops to Rs. 80. He does not consider this as loss until he books it, loss is not existent for him, and it’s just a possibility. But in real terms, that person is actually suffering loss already. The person in this case labels the loss as ‘potential’ and not ‘real’. On the other hand, if the same stock went up from Rs. 100 to Rs. 120, he will be happy and will be telling everybody that how he is in ‘profit’ even though he has not booked as yet. Profits have already happened according to this person’s thinking and this is exactly why many people fail in stock investments.

3. Size of the decision/money involved

A lot of times the size of the transaction also influences our thinking. Imagine that you went to buy a Plasma TV which costs Rs 20,000. You bargain with the vendor and successfully get a discount of Rs 500; it makes you happy and you feel as if you saved something. But do you put any big effort to find out how you can save much on groceries or vegetables? As the transaction size is bigger and bigger money is involved in case of Plasma TV, it clicks your mind that you should try to bargain the price and save as much as you can, but this thinking is not the same in case of small purchases. Even if we are able to save Rs 5 on small transactions, it would amount to Rs 1700 (approx) in saving in whole year and that would be bigger than Rs 500 saved in case of Plasma TV.

While there can be repetitive headache involved in saving that small amount, the whole idea is to communicate that we tend to think differently when there is a big decision and very different when in smaller ones.

4. Earn less interest and pay more interest

Many investors do the common mistake of earning less interest on their FD’s, PPF or Cash in their Savings account, but pay huge interest on their personal loan or credit card interests. For investors, money in FD’s and PPF is ‘safe’ and not to be touched, but in true sense you are earning less on a part of your portfolio and from that same portfolio you are paying huge interest for loans. If you see your whole portfolio as one and single element without labelling parts of it, your perspective will change. Ideally  one should clear a liability whose interest rates are higher than the part of portfolio earning lesser interest . But due to mental accounting , this idea does not look fine to many people .

5. Labeling money into safe money and risky money , loosing any money is just loosing

Ajay has Rs 1,00,000 in Bank FD, Rs 2,00,000 in his PPF account and 5 lacs in Balanced Mutual funds. All these investments are for his daughter’s education down the line and he has mentally labelled it as ‘safe’. However Ajay has also separated out Rs 50,000 to try out stock trading which is his passion and what he loves to do. He has mentally labelled this Rs 50,000 as ‘Risky’. You can see his total worth is 8.5 lacs.

Case A: Now imagine he is in loss of Rs 25,000 in his stock trading. This will not hurt him so much as he had accepted from start that it’s for stock trading and loss was a possibility. He is fine with this loss, as nothing has happened to his ‘safe’ investments.

Case B: Suppose market is down and he faces a loss of Rs 25,000 on his mutual funds. As the loss has happened in his mutual funds which was initially labelled as ‘safe’ and “for-his-daughter’s-education”, the level of disappointment and worry would be much bigger than Case A.

Even though the reaction of Ajay was different in both case A and case B, it’s purely because of mental accounting and the way he had unconsciously labelled both investments of his portfolio, but in both the cases the reality is that his total net worth went down from 8.5 lacs to 8.3 lacs, It’s as simple as that.

6. Paying for Financial advice

We recently encountered a very funny situation, one of the readers contacted us for our Financial Coaching service, he was very clear that he needs it (For readers who are not aware about financial coaching, it’s a paid program where we coach people in their financial life just like Garry Kirsten coaches Indian cricket team and transformed their performance). He was very much interested in being coached on his finances and what MONEY means to him, but was very uncomfortable paying the fee out of his wealth, as for him there were other important things in life; he said he would get back to us once he makes the decision. But he didn’t communicate for weeks, then just last week he told us that now he is ready for Financial Coaching. After we started his work, we asked him, what had happened in his life which motivated him to take our service. To our surprise, he had sold his old car and got price way beyond he expected, and he was fine to use that extra money to improve his financial life.

If you look at this incident closely, even the money which he got by selling his old car become the part of his overall wealth, the moment he sold it, in fact it was always part of his wealth even when he didn’t sold it. You must be thinking what was our first   coaching lesson for him? Yes, it was the way he looks at different aspects of his financial life and not fall prey to these kinds of behavioural patterns.

7. Treating unexpected money in a different way

There are lot of unexpected money at times coming in our life , It can be money in form of Bonus from your company , It can be money recieved from an old friend who took it from you ,didnt give back to you and you also forgot about it. It can be some money you find in old book which you had secretley kept long back . All these are examples of “unexpected” money and hence there is no mental accout for it , that money looks more of pocket money to you and you tend to spend it without thinking much .. However money is money , no matter from where it came . Its just different in your mind .

Please share your real life incidents where you fell prey to mental accounting . Do you think mental accounting is not applicable in real life and is more of a “time pass” concept or do you think its really something one has to understand and apply in their financial life ? Share your views


How EMI’s Principle and Interest breakup is done

Do you know who to calculate principle and interest part in your home loan’s EMI break up? Do you know how each EMI is distributed to principal and interest repayments? It is extremely important to have this knowledge because a lot of real life decisions like prepaying the loan, opting for the loan tenure and many more such aspects depend on how your EMI is structured.

home loan EMI breakup

Basics of Home Loan EMI’s

What happens in a general scenario? Loan is opted for from a Bank and you start paying your EMIs each month as contracted (see this excellent article on how EMI formula is derived). When you pay your EMIs, some part of it goes towards interest and remaining towards principal repayment. So each month you are reducing your loan by some extent and now as your loan have reduced, you will be paying less interest on your next instalment. In the same way, with each passing month, your loan gets paid by some amount and balancing amount keeps on reducing resulting in paying lesser interest month on month and year on year and the day comes when you fully close your loan. Note that your EMI is generally fixed and internally it’s worked out into ‘interest’ and ‘principal’ repayments.

However, even today, a lot of people have no understanding of the idea that in the early years of repaying the loan, interest component is very high as compared to principal repayment. The longer the tenure of the loan, the interest component will be higher than principal payments and also the rate at which the interest part will come down will also be lower, making sure that in the initial years most of the EMIs goes towards ‘Interest’ and not ‘principal’.

Example of EMI payment

Lets say you take a HDC Home Loan of Rs 30 lacs for 20 yrs tenure, your EMI would be Rs 28,950/month. In the first EMI, the interest part would be Rs 25,000 and only Rs 3,950 will be the principal payment, which means out of total hdfc home loan of 30 lacs, only Rs 3,950 will be reduced in the first month and rest Rs 25,000 will go away in interest. Sounds disappointing? What is EMI disease ?

In the same way After 100 payments (8 yrs and 4 months), when you would be paying your 101st EMI of Rs 28,950, the interest part would still be as high as Rs 19,891 and the principal part would be Rs 9,060. Still disappointed? Now let’s fast forward towards the end, let’s take 200th payment. When you make your 200th EMI payment of Rs 28,950; this time your interest part would be very less at Rs 8,349 and principal would be Rs 20,601. So now, with all these examples I gave, you can see how interest part is very high in initial years. Let’s look at it from a different point now!

Just consider this- For the scenario above; If you keep paying your EMI’s for 2 yrs (24 payments), you will pay total of 6.94 lacs (24 x EMI) from your pocket, but your loan would just go down by 1.05 lacs! And your outstanding loan would be still 28.95 lacs. In the same way in 5 yrs even though you pay around 17.37 lacs (60 x EMI), your loan outstanding would be down by just 3.06 lacs and loan outstanding would be just Rs 26.94 lacs.

The chart below shows the breakup of interest and principal payment for each year for a 30 lacs loan for 20 yrs tenure assuming interest @10%. So each bar is broken into two parts, where green bar represents Interest part and orange bar represents principal part. It is clearly visible that how interest forms a major part of overall EMI in initial years and only in the later years principal part becomes high.

Loan Amortization calculation

Here is the actual breakup of the EMI in numbers

Loan Amortization

Pre-payment of long tenure loan

A lot of investors opt for 15-20 yrs loan thinking that they will pre-pay the loan in next 4-6 yrs itself because of their salaries will rise or for some other reasons. In these cases, for the initial years they keep paying loan interest only and not a lot towards principal. When they prepay the loan, they end up paying a little lesser amount then original loan amount. Example, if you take a loan of 30 lacs for 20 yrs tenure at 10% p.a. and prepay the loan in 5 yrs itself, you will still end up paying 27 lacs as loan outstanding, even though you have already paid 17 lacs in EMI in last 5 yrs, Pre-payment penalty would be extra! But the positive side is that there might be a good appreciation in the house value itself.

So if you are taking loan for longer duration thinking that you would pre-pay the loan very soon, you need to rethink! This makes sense, once the worth of your house has gone up and there is a decent profit. A better option which I can think of is to pre-pay in small chunks each year along with your EMI’s from the start of the loan payment. It would make sure that you principal goes down in big chunks each month.

If you take short term loans, because of the shorter duration, the bigger chunk of the EMI is actually principal part, hence you can look forward to pre-pay the loan incase you wish to.

Free Calculators for Loan Amortization

I have created and found out some loan amortization calculators which you can use for calculating your EMI’s and its breakup into principal and interest for each month.

By now you must have got a clear understanding on loan amotization and how home loan EMI is broken into principle and interest component. Note that the asssumption for this article was that the loan is on “Monthly Reducing Balance”

4 amazing things you can learn from Cricket

Does cricket have anything to do with your financial life? I say, Yes!. Cricket and Financial life have some amazingly common things! There is much,  we can learn from cricket and implement in our financial life. Both cricket and Financial life involves achieving goals. Let’s see what we can learn from cricket, to use in our financial life.

Personal Finance and Cricket
1. Chasing a big score is easy, if you have a good start!

In cricket, making a good score within the first 10-15 overs helps a lot. It’s much easier to score 300, if you’ve already made 80-100 runs in the first 10 overs. However if you make a very bad start; losing wickets and not making enough runs, you will have to work much hard later to reach a good score. We see this in every match. Once the first 15 overs are, well over, we have fielders placed well, all over the field and everyone is warmed up. So, a good start in the start of the match compensates for the slow run rate later, and at the end you get a good score.

In the same way, your time, at the starting years of your financial life is like a precious “wicket”. Dont lose it. The longer you have in your hand, more is the risk you can afford to take. Saving more in the start helps a lot in building corpus. For example if you invest Rs 10,000 per month for 30 yrs , you will build a huge corpus at the end. However if you decide to save additional 4,000 per month and invest 14,000 per month for first 10 yrs , you can then stop your investments and leave that accumulated corpus to grow for 20 more years to reach the same corpus. So an extra saving of Rs 4,000 per month makes sure you don’t have to take on a much larger load later. The assumption is that you get 12% return on your investments.

2. Each team member has his place in the team

What will happen if you decide to have 11 Sehwag or 11 Zaheer Khans in the team? Will India win? I doubt it! A good team has a good batting line up, great bowlers, a wicket keeper with really safe hands, and quick, sharp, athletic fielders. Having a team that is extremely dependant on one single ability, would mean that we ignore other areas and leave big wide gaping holes which in turn lead to failure… big time.

Having 11 Sehwag’s would mean we can theoretically score 400-450 in 50 overs, but then we won’t be able to stop the other team by chasing, because we will not have a great bowling attack. In the same way, if we had 11 Zaheer Khans, we might bowl out the team under 150 runs, but won’t be able to chase that tiny total either. So a balance within a team is required.

In the same way, our portfolio is a team and it has different team members like mutual funds, direct equity, ULIPs, Insurance, PPF, other debt products and of-course – cash. Each of these have different functions and are useful in different ways. You can’t afford to have your team always stuffed with a single kind of financial product unless you are super-expert in that. You can definitely favor one product or strategy, more than others, but only if you know what you are doing. This can’t be the case in general for a common investor. One cant have only equity all his life or only debt products all his life ,you need to have balance and their comes asset allocation.

3. You can’t hit sixes & boundaries every time. Just make sure your run rate is awesome!

This is my favorite! If you look at any match, 6s and 4s are always there and that what most of the viewers like to watch, but you can’t deny that the actual score comes from 1s and 2s; runs which players make consistently. It’s the core of the score. There are bowling deliveries which has to be identified well to hit boundaries, but if one tries to smash every ball out of the park, failure is almost certain! All the wickets will fall sooner rather than later. A team has to make sure that they keep taking singles and doubles consistently, and hit boundaries on weak deliveries.

In the same way, in our financial life, some years can be awesome with 50% or 100% returns like 2010-2011 or worst like -50% return in year 2008 , However dont get disheartened by these extreme years, you have to make sure you make average good returns consistently each year and keep moving towards your target. Its much easier to get 12-13% return on yearly basis compared to getting 40-50% year over year. There will definitely be times when you will make amazing returns from your money. It could be stocks, mutual funds or real estate. But don’t get used to it!. Look for a good average return overall, with great returns once in a while. Having said that, don’t feel bad if there are some years which are bad and your money does not grow a lot, because even in cricket, there are some maiden overs! . If you didn’t score any runs in an over, it does not mean that you have lost the game; it just means that you are facing a strong bowling attack.

Don’t lose your sleep over it. If you look at the world cup final between India and Sri Lanka, you will appreciate the fact that India maintained its run rate till the end and made sure they preserve the wickets till end and that’s the reason it become very easy to chase the score and finally play some winning shots with the backup of our wickets in hand. In the same way, you need to ensure while chasing your goals, that you maintain a good run-rate year after year. There will be good years and bad years, but don’t let them weaken or slow your run-rate.

4. Things can go wrong! You need to be nimble & re-evaluate your strategy

A lot of unexpected things happen in a cricket match. For example there can be a bad start with very low run rate, fall of important wickets, excellent fielding by the opposing team etc., which might make you feel as if the game is all over, but there are many occasions where the losing side has won. It all happened, due to focus, being calm, reevaluating the situation and finding the strategy of what’s to be done “now.” With slow and steady progress, and some calculated risks there are many matches where losing side have won.

In your financial life, there can be many issues like losing the initial years of your life without investing any money, loss of income, change in taxation rules which affect you badly, many bad years without any good returns etc., and all this can make you feel that you will not achieve your targets on time. It’s true, that situations get tougher and reduce your chances of getting closer to your goals easily. It does not mean however, that things are over! You can always take charge of your financial life and really fix it. You can spend good time over your financial life and be extremely committed to make it awesome. Learn personal finance, find out how to get better returns from your investment, be more aware of what precautions can be taken etc. You need to be more alert and keep evaluating your strategy for improving your financial life.

Can you share more learnings from cricket which we can relate to personal finance ? Also, share if you like the analogies in this article ?

What is Banking Ombudsman ?

Do you know you can complain to Banking Ombudsman incase you have any complaints against your bank in India ? Banking Ombudsman is a body created by RBI to look after banking related complaints. Imagine the scenario’s – You insert your card in ATM to withdraw Rs 500. The transaction fails, but your account is debited by Rs 500. You’re frustrated, you’re irritated, you complain to your bank about the money being debited after the failed transaction. The bank tells you that your money will soon be credited to your account, but nothing happens for weeks…  Six months pass by, with all of this up-down in-out stuff, You’ve done all you can, but no body is listening! . Can you imagine getting a compensation of Rs 16,200 because of your bank’s inability to honour the rules set by RBI? Can you imagine, that for not getting Rs 500 within a few days, you can get Rs a 100 penalty for each 162 days you have waited?  Yes it can happen! And it has happened! . In this article, I’ll show you the power of the Banking Ombudsman and some case studies which show you that getting your complaints addressed is more easy that you think!

Banking Ombudsman RBI

What is Banking Ombudsman ?

The Banking Ombudsman is a senior official, appointed by the Reserve Bank of India to address grievances and complaints from customers, regarding deficiencies in banking services. It covers all kinds of banks – PSU Banks, Private banks, Rural banks and co-operative banks. Even though, it was originally setup in 1995, there were major revisions in 2006 covering transactions related to complaints of ATM cards, debit cards and credit cards, deduction of service charges by banks without prior intimation, unfair practices of banks and non-compliance by direct sales agents (DSA) of banks for services promised while opening an account etc. It was last amended in Feb, 2009 to cover deficiencies arising out of internet banking too.

Today, the Banking Ombudsman covers almost all kind of complaints for banking services. To give you a brief idea about their effectiveness, Banking Ombudsmen received 79,266 complaints in the year 2009-2010 out of which around 94% were handled and just 5-6% of the complaints remained pending for more than three months as on June 30, 2010. There are a total of 15 Banking Ombudsman in our country. You complain to the one which comes under the jurisdiction of the Bank location, i.e., if your bank is in Bangalore, you can complain to the BO from Bangalore region. Incase you or the bank is not satisfied by the decision given by the Banking ombudsman, in that case within 30 days of BO decision,  the complaint can be taken forward to Appellate Authority, which is a Deputy Governor of the RBI . Its just like going to supreme court if you are not satisfied by High court decision 🙂 .

What kind of complaints are taken care by banking ombudsman ?

So, the first question that comes to mind naturally is – “Will it be helpful for me?” You wont believe it, but the most basic problems, a common man faces (See an example of what I faced) , like rude behaviour of bank officials, delays in disbursing loans, forcing customers to buy insurance policies for processing loans etc., are all addressed by Banking Ombudsman (BO), and the process of complaining is as simple as filling up a form online or sending in a filled form to a postal address.

The best part is that if you are harassed because of any issue or have undergone through mental agony, you can ask for a compensation upto Rs 1 lac. Also some readers of the blog has acknowledged that banking ombudsman were useful for them (see this , this and this comment) . So let me list down some of the possible scenarios where you can file a complaint with Banking ombudsman.

  • Levying of charges without any notice or Information.
  • Charging higher rate of interest linked to BPLR on Housing Loan
  • Any Loss suffered because of lack of co-ordination from Bank side
  • Unreasonable credit card charges
  • Fraudulent transfer of funds by using net banking
  • Fraudulent transactions against lost credit card
  • Cheque lost in transit by the bank
  • Non-updation of CIBIL records
  • Loss of cheque from Cheque drop box
  • Closure of any account with providing any information or reason
  • When bank demands unreasonable proofs for openening of account
  • Change in terms and conditions without notice or valid reason
  • Delay in providing any service
  • Mis-selling of Insurance products
  • Forcing customers to take insurnace policies for processing Loans
  • Rejection of Loans
  • Harrasment to customer or misbehaviour for any reason
  • Casual approch from Bank on perfoming its duties

I ran a poll with title “Have you even been frustrated with your Bank and wanted to complain? ” on this blog, on which 100 people participated. Surprisingly , around 65% people said that they were frustrated on some issue with their bank and wanted to complain. Only 35% said that they never had any issue with their bank which went to a level that they have to complain about it .

Banking Ombudsman survey

Real Life Cases Solved by Banking Ombudsman

As per the Banking Ombudsman Annual Report 2009-2010 , ombudsmen have resolved thousands of cases and helped common man get justice. I would say, this is a great way to raise your voice and show banks that they can’t take you for granted, just because they are bigger than you in size. A customer has to be treated as per the guidelines, and customer service is the critical part of any service provider. Just to give you some idea, the Banking Ombudsman annual report showcases around 57 different real life cases of how it has helped customers get justice (Page 57-73) . I am highlighting four of those live cases below

1. How a person got compensation of Rs 16,200 because he got less money from ATM

The complainant maintained an account with AB Bank. He withdrew an amount of Rs 500 from the ATM of DH bank on July 28, 2009. The cash dispensed by the machine was only Rs 400. However, his account was debited by Rs 500. The amount of Rs 100 was credited back to his account only on January 27, 2010 (Around 162 days late) & despite lodging the complaint immediately, no penalty was paid to him as per the instructions issued by DPSS, vide its circular dated July 17, 2009.  Since the bank had delayed in affording the credit to the complainant’s account by more than five months, the BO directed the bank to pay the penalty amount of Rs 16,200 for the delayed period (Rs 100 for each 162 days) .

2. How a credit card holder got Rs 10,000 in compensation for non-updation of CIBIL records

One credit card holder complained about the bank’s claim against his settled credit card account dues, and non-updation of his status with CIBIL. The bank accepted that although the credit card account was settled three years ago, the status of the account could not be updated in the records of the bank with CIBIL (See a related example) , which was rectified subsequently. Clear negligence was observed on the part of the bank for not updating their records for more than three years, resulting in undue harassment to the complainant. The bank was directed to pay an amount of Rs 10,000 to the complainant as a token compensation  for the violation of BCSBI Codes.

The Branch Manager assured him to provide the loan without delay. However after three months the branch returned all the papers stating that the Loan Disbursement Officer was ill because of which they were unable to provide the loan. With the intervention of BO, it was agreed by both the parties, that the complainant would resubmit the loan application and the bank would consider the same again. Moreover, since the complainant had lost Rs 5000 which had been paid as registration fee to the Institute, the bank agreed to pay Rs 5000 as a token compensation and another Rs 5000 as a service gesture. The education loan was sanctioned subsequently by the bank and the student got admitted to the MBA course in the same business school.

3. How a senior citizen claimed Rs 1 lakh in compensation for Harassment regarding the loan he never took

Even though the complainant had no business relationship with ABC bank, he was getting calls/SMS from the recovery agents using abusive language & demanding repayment of some loans which he had never taken. Several complaints to the bank against this harassment calls fetched no effect. The bank pleaded to the BO that the telephone numbers from which he was getting the abusive calls did not belong to any of their recovery agents. Based on this, the BO closed the case under clause 13(d) of BO Scheme (i.e. complaint without any sufficient cause).

As the complainant continued to get the harassment calls, he went in appeal. During the appeal, the bank admitted that the phone numbers from which he was getting abusive harassment calls belonged to their recovery agents and that they had since taken necessary corrective action to discontinue such calls. The AA observed that the bank had not conducted proper due diligence while sanctioning the loan to some third person indicating a major KYC lapse. To cap it all, the bank had misguided the BO resulting in the BO pronouncing a wrong order, damaging the credibility of the BOS. The AA set aside the decision of the BO and directed the bank to pay the appellant Rs 1 lakh towards compensation.

4. How A person got Rs 6,500 as interest for Failed ATM transaction

In a case of failed ATM transaction where the account was debited though no cash was dispensed it was observed that as per BO’s orders the amount was credited to complainant’s account, but the bank did not pay the penal interest in terms of extant RBI instructions for the delayed period credit of approximately 2 months. The bank was directed to pay penalty at Rs 100 per day amounting to Rs 6500 .

Proof that it works !

How Trivikram got his wrongly wrongly credited money to different amount .

I got my money back after complaining the issue in Banking ombudsman.

Last year May I transferred money through internet banking to wrong account. After realizing I called my bank officials and requested not to transfer. But it’s already transferred they need to contact with payee bank. The other bank people not given any information as I am not a account holder. I tried through my friend they told that it’s transferred back to my account. Almost three months I tried hard back and forth in both the banks but no use.
This month (5/04/2011) I got to know about Banking ombudsman through one of my colleague and I raised the issue with all my details. Today I got my money back:-).

Ankur on comments section mentions how he got his interest back by

Hey Manish,
some good news… i finally got my intrest back for arnd 20 days. though the amount was meagre but yet it was fruitful. i had known 3 persons who applied for this scheme and we 4 guys got 6000/- back in total.
now i believe that BO(directly got a call from the branch manager to come and collect the cheque 🙂 ) do works and finally thx to you guys for guidance.


How Atul got his IT refund with help of Banking Ombudsman

Hi Manish,

I had approached IT ombudsman for IT refund. After chasing IT officials for 2.5 years the experience with Ombudsman was inspiring. Not only I got the money back but with interest.

The only catch is that one needs to be patience and keep all proofs ready. Best way is to keep copy of letters send by post, copy of emails etc.



Procedure of Complain ?

There are two ways of  filing your complain .

Online Complaint : You can complain to Banking ombudsman online by filling up the form here . Once you fill up the form , you can also upload your proofs like bank rejection letter, banks reply or anything else (it has to be PDF or TXT format only)

Offline Complaint : You can also complain in offline mode to Banking Ombudsman. Just download this form and fill up the complaint.  You should provide your contact information, name and address of the bank against which you are lodging the complaint, documentary evidence and the compensation you need. Once you have filled up the form, you can send it to the Banking Ombudsman address which comes under your jurisdiction (Download the list of all 15 BO)

Should you complain ?

I dont see any reason why you should not ! . If you are frustrated anyways and the service is free and also does not take much time and effort to complain, then you should definately go ahead and complain to Banking Ombudsman for something which you feel you should get justice for. Forget about who will win and who will loose for a moment, but I would encourage you to atleast take the first step and be the part of this initiative atleast. If you case is genuine, I beleive banking ombudsman will help you for sure, It can take time, but dont let this get you get stopped . Go ahead .

Share your experience! .  A lot of readers have never had a bad experienced with their banks (like me) , so its your responsibility to share your bad experience in comment section and make them aware about what had happened in your case and how bad it was.  Also share what are you doing now ? Will you file a complaint with Banking Ombudsman ?