Adequate financial diversification is safer

A business owner in his early forties lives in a metro with his family. He was absolutely focused on his business and had most of his savings tied to it. His business had grown well within a short period and like owners, he invested most of the funds into business.

He always believed that his business was earning good returns and that there was no need to diversify. However, a sharp downturn and losses made him rethink on a strategy.

He felt that he was in control of doing things because he was a prominent client of a couple of multinational banks and had done a few insurance policies and investment (in an ad hoc manner). But as he progressed, he started to realize the risks that he was exposed to. Some of the observations that an financial expert observed for him are:

Almost 90% of his net worth was tied to the business. His family was exposed to the biggest risk that all business owners face today –risk of concentration. Almost all their investments and assets were concentrated on their business. There was minimal diversification.

There was no will of inheritance prepared by him or his parents. The women in the family had no clue about the investments or what the family actually owned.

He was paying several lakh rupees as life insurance premium but had a very low cover. At the same time, there were some liabilities to be covered.

His investments were hodgepodge and accumulated over a period. At times, his current account and savings account had lots of funds earning zero to nominal returns.

There was no track of many investments and he was not even sure where the papers were.

When these points were explained to him, the businessman say B understood the situation and seemed a little worried.

Challenges faced by most business owners

Loss of business due to changes in economic climate, consumer preferences and typical business risks can have a significant impact on the income and career prospects.

There is a very thin line between business and personal funds. Also, there are no separate personal investments. There is a constant need of capital for business expansion.

However, it is very important that one understands the difference between personal financial goals and business related ones and the need to keep them separate. Some of the B’s goals:

To maintain a lifestyle by having a post tax retirement income of Rs 2.5 lakh per month in today’s value was the B’s simple goal.

Provide Rs 1 crore for daughters’ US education.

Involving his wife in the business and updating her about the same – this was more of an objective.

Diversifying investments from the current business and making a sound portfolio of debt, equity, real estate, private equity and gold.

Do thorough estate planning exercise for his parents and himself.

A detailed assessment of B’s goals, cash flow, net worth statements, insurance policies, investments and tax returns revealed the following:

B’s savings were good but most of it was going into costly and low return endowment policies from LIC and ULIPs. He was paying around 29% of his net income for insurance policies. Lifestyle expenses took around 43% of his net income. He was getting a paltry 4-5% on the traditional policies and some of his recent ULIPs were deep in the red and they will surely take several years to break even. Also, he had taken a few policies in his children’s name something which was not needed as children have no dependents and are not the breadwinners in a family.

Also, the cover he had from the LIC policies was on the lower side at around Rs 90 lakh.

Majority of his net worth was tied to his residence and business. His investments were very nominal as compared to his overall financial and business situation. Adequate diversification was missing in his plan. The only beneficial plans were his PPF contribution and exposure to certain blue chip stocks and mutual funds.

His expert friend created a comprehensive financial strategy for him, pats of which are reproduced below:

However, at times there is very little diversification that they manage to achieve and hence it leaves them exposed or the risk of putting all eggs in one basket. But for making prudent financial decisions, taking a holistic view of their overall finances is a necessity.

A comprehensive strategy that will look at every aspect of personal finance – from cash flow and debt management, loans, all risks that a business owner faces, how best to address these risk, investments, retirement and estate planning is paramount for the success.