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Friday, April 30, 2010

Asset allocation – Helps in better returns, liquidity, reduce risk





 

FLASHBACK to the start of 2008: The markets are roaring and everyone's who's been left out of the equity ride up is rushing to enter. Cut to the start of 2009: Equity is worse than a four-letter bad word by now. Nobody can get it right 100% of the time; and, at both these times, the investor would have been protected with the asset allocation approach — taken out profits when his weightage of equity shot up beyond his risk-taking ability; and entered when no one dared to even look towards the markets in 2009.

LOOK AT THE WHOLE PICTURE

The allocation to debt is met for the salaried class through regular deductions and investment in the employee provident fund (EPF) scheme; and others create their safety net through Public Provident Fund, bank deposits, Post Office deposits, National Savings Certificates and the like. We all spend more time on analysing why we made a loss of 10% on one share, even when that share is a minuscule proportion of one's total financial assets. The focus needs to move away from making a profit in every transaction to having a suitable risk-adjusted return portfolio.

BEYOND JUST DEBT AND EQUITY

Asset allocation is a way to reduce risks but it goes beyond the accepted debt and equity allocation. The starting point of reducing risks is to spread your assets across different countries and currencies. While we all believe that India is the place to invest in for the long-term, we do understand that in case of a war-like situation on India's borders, the price of all assets — debt and equity, as well as real estate — will fall.

THE LIQUIDITY FACTOR

Assets can also be classified based on their liquidity. Why investors like property as an asset class is because there is no price ticker and a 'Fill it; shut it; forget it' approach works. However, you may have realised during 2008 the value of this asset was just on paper (even if you wished to assign a discount to it), as there were just no transactions taking place. And you cannot manage your daughter's wedding expenses from a piece of paper that will gain value only on her first wedding anniversary.

HOW MUCH SUGAR DO YOU TAKE IN YOUR TEA?

This is a question I have often asked my prospective clients, and I get a straight-forward answer almost always. My logical mind wants to ask two questions instead: What is the size of the cup? What is the size of the spoon? When your cup of worries is huge (for example, in 2008), the spoon (of investments) that you dip into your equi'tea' definitely needs to be larger.

HOW YOUR FINANCIAL PLANNER WILL ADDRESS ASSET ALLOCATION

There are three key factors that need to be considered and communicated correctly: financial objectives (returns required), liquidity requirements (a factor of the time horizon for investments) and risk profile (what is the loss the investor can bear). Let us assume that fixed deposit rates for 3 years or more are at 7.5% pa, or 5% pa, post-tax. If 86% of the total funds are invested in deposits, the portfolio will be capital protected at the end of three years. If the period of investment is 10 years, only 61% of the funds need to be locked into fixed deposits. The incremental benefit of investing the 'riskable' funds in equity will be huge, and you do not want to miss this opportunity.

 


Are you saving or investing?

 

There are two kinds of people, really - those who have extra money left over at the end of the month, and those who don't.

I'm assuming you're one of the former, otherwise you shouldn't even be here. So what do you do with what's left over?


1) Do you put it in a bank account, and spend it whenever you have a big purchase like an LCD TV, an iPod, a camera?

2) Do you make a fixed deposit every month (or once you have a large sum)?

3) Do you buy mutual funds, shares, or other investments?


1) is a Saving.

2) is an Investment.

3) is "saving"

according to me (but others will think of it as an investment) There's a difference.

An Investment is where you can grow your money significantly above inflation, after tax is applied. Remember that quoted inflation is around 5% but for real terms, it's around 6.5% a year. That means your money needs to grow ABOVE That for any real returns. An investment MUST carry some amount of risk; assured returns are usually negative post-tax and post-inflation.

Savings are everything else. Money in the bank, in a fixed deposit, hidden in your pillow etc. Even bonds and debt mutual funds, in my opinion, are "savings" - they hardly return more than inflation post tax.

You might think "No! A fixed deposit can grow at 8% a year!" Reduce tax on that amount at 30%, you'll get 5.6% left over. That's still less than inflation of 6.5%.


Shares and equity/balanced mutual fund units are investments. They carry a large amount of risk, but have the potential to grow much more than inflation. Gold and other commodities are investments too, and so is real estate, paintings (art) etc.

Within investments you have two types: cash-flow and value-appreciation. Cash-flow means you get money ever so often; royalties from books, dividends, rent (from real estate) etc. Cash-flow income is usually called "passive income"; meaning you don't have to work for it.


Value appreciation is growth in the intrinsic value of what you buy. (Note: Cars, iPods etc. are not investments. They lose value from the minute you buy them!)


Most people usually buy for value appreciation, since there are limited cash-flow options available. In India for instance, both dividends and rents are around 3% post-tax, and that's no fun. But there are a few companies that consistently give 10% dividends, and places where you can get upto 7% as rents. You just have to look harder.

Investments are your future. Savings are your present. Straddle the two - keep around 40-60% of your money in investments and the rest in savings. You need your savings to build up your purchases and pay extraordinary bills (like a pregnancy or hospitalisation), but don't forego your investments either. If you want to ensure a stable future, invest more. Key check:

 

1) It should "appreciate" in value (either through cash flow of value appreciation)

2) It should have an element of risk.

3) It should have the ability to grow more than inflation.

 


Thursday, April 29, 2010

If you are afraid of stock market, Let fund managers do that for you

 

The uncertainties associated with stock market have kept many a retail investor out of it.



   THERE are many investors who after witnessing sensational stock market crashes in the past have a mortal fear of investing in equities. However, with returns from traditional fixed income products turning unattractive, investing in equities is perhaps the only way to beat inflation. In such a scenario, what are the choices that such an investor has? Fund managers have come out with innovative schemes as the answer to the dilemmas faced by such investors.

CAPITAL PROTECTION STRATEGY

If you desire better return on capital and at the same time you are concerned about the return of capital, this is the scheme for you. These are close-ended debt mutual funds. The fund invests a part of your subscription into high-quality fixed income instruments that by the end of the term of the scheme reaches at least the original sum. Rest of the money is invested in equity with the sole objective to enhance returns. However, one must remember that such products are generally illiquid and one may have to remain invested for the full tenure of the product to reap its benefits. For example, if you invest Rs 1 lakh in such a scheme with 3-year tenure, the fund manager will put approximately Rs 85,000 in fixed income instruments which will grow to Rs 1 lakh. The rest of the money, Rs 15,000, will be invested in equities. Rs 85,000 invested in debt for a period of 3 years will give you interest income sufficient to protect your capital while extra returns could come in from equities. "Capital protection-oriented funds are the best option for a fixed income investor who are considering investing in equities for the first time," Kenneth Andrade, head, investments, IDFC Mutual fund, says.

STRUCTURED PRODUCTS

Over the past couple of years, structured products have guaranteed success of your capital in the market. Investors in such schemes can get to earn a return linked to the returns generated by underlying stock index or a stock. You are offered higher part of the fixed coupon and the returns generated by the underlying. There are two versions of products, one that offers a capital protection and another that does not. Risk-averse investors can look at the former. However, a point to note is the minimum ticket size is a tad higher and typically stands above Rs 20 lakh. The products are available only through the private banking channels that cater to high net worth individuals.

MONTHLY INCOME PLANS

Monthly Income Plans (MIPs) launched by mutual funds deploy money into a mix of equities and fixed income instruments. The only difference between an MIP and balanced fund is that in the case of MIP, the fixed income weight is higher. In some cases, it is as high as 95%. If you are risk averse go with a fund with higher debt allocation. For those who can digest a bit higher volatility, you can consider investing into an MIP with approximately 25% equity. MIPs though are aimed to generate regular returns that take care of income needs, there is no guarantee that there will be regular payouts to the investors. Investors run the risk of losing money. However, they are ideal vehicle for those who are keen to taste the waters, but do not intend to risk most of their capital. MIPs work better than capital-oriented products for investors with a 3-year time frame, since the fund manager has the flexibility to alter the duration of the portfolio depending on the interest rate scenario


COMBINATION OF DEBT AND EQUITY FUNDS

If you are willing to take some efforts, you can choose to invest into a combination of equity and debt funds. Depending on your risk appetite, you may choose to put 10-20% of your money into equity funds. This helps you ensure you will earn good risk-adjusted returns over three to five years.

MAKING A SMART CHOICE

SCHEME: CAPITAL PROTECTION

Time frame: Generally 3 years

LIQUIDITY: Low

INVESTMENT AMOUNT: Can start with as low as Rs 5,000

FOR WHOM: Fixed deposit investors

AVAILABLE OPTIONS: IDFC Capital Protection Oriented plan

SCHEME: STRUCTURED PRODUCTS

TIME FRAME: One year to 3 years

LIQUIDITY: Low

INVESTMENT AMOUNT: Meant for HNI clients, as you need to commit Rs 20 lakh

FOR WHOM: Fixed deposit investors

AVAILABLE OPTIONS: These products are tailor-made as and when the need arises by private bankers for their clients. For example, BNP Paribas Wealth Mgmt is currently offering 2 structured products with principal protection. The first one with a tenure of 3 years gives you a minimum coupon of 14% plus 40% Nifty participation. The second one has zero coupon, but gives you a participation of 90% in Nifty performance.

SCHEME: MONTHLY INCOME PLANS

TIME FRAME: Open-ended

LIQUIDITY: Very liquid

INVESTMENT AMOUNT:
Can start with as low as Rs 5,000

FOR WHOM: Those who want a regular income
AVAILABLE OPTIONS:
Birla MIP II Savings 5, Canara Robeco MIP, L&T MIP and Reliance MIP have been

SCHEME: COMBINATION OF DEBT AND EQUITY

TIME FRAME: Open-ended
LIQUIDITY: Very liquid
INVESTMENT AMOUNT: Can start with as low as Rs 5,000
FOR WHOM: For low-risk investors with a 3-year time frame
AVAILABLE OPTIONS: Equity funds with a long-standing proven track record and rated 5 star by Value Research such as Birla Sunlife Frontline Equity Plan A, DSPBR Equity, HDFC Top 200. Income funds are Birla Sunlife Dynamic Bond Fund and Canara Robeco Income Fund and ICICI Prudential Income Opportunities Fund

 


Age and Investment Strategy

 

Being at the dawn of a new decade, it's advisable to draw up an investment strategy before allocating funds.


   THE events over the past one-and-a-half years have underlined the need to block the noise around you and remain focused on your investment goals. Sticking to your asset allocation, which needs to be devised after taking into account factors such as goals, age and risk appetite, is key to tiding over turbulent times. As the world steps into a new decade, here are some old, tried-and-tested tips you could bear in mind while chalking out your investment strategy:


Investor profile: 25-30 years old. Minimal responsibilities
Equity Allocation 60-80%
Must have: Health insurance


If you are below 30, with minimal family responsibilities, equities are for you. Life insurance may not be a top priority but health insurance is a must, even if you are covered under corporate mediclaim. You would do well to direct a major part of your savings (roughly 40% of your income) into equity. Many individuals in this category, by the time they turn 33-35, would have switched a few jobs, and would have been left with two or more salary accounts. Multiple bank accounts entail maintaining a minimum balance, which results in funds lying idle

Investor profile: 30-45-years old. Couples with kids Equity Allocation: 35-50% Must have: Term insurance, goal-oriented savings

Apart from health cover, life insurance will also come into the picture now, as the number of dependents — spouse, children and parents — increases. While home loan is necessary, do not borrow for splurging. Your total EMI outflow should not exceed 30-40% of your monthly income. Investments — a combination of debt and equity — should be made towards goals such as children's education, home loan prepayment, retirement planning and so on. 
   
Globally, the thumb rule is that allocation towards equity can be calculated in terms of 100 minus the investor's age. However, Indian investors will be more comfortable adopting an 80 minus the age approach


Investor profile: 45-55, inching closer to retirement Equity allocation: 25-35%% Must have: Health and critical illness cover


This stage, where individuals may have to fund their children's marriage, and have close to a decade left for retirement, merits rebalancing of portfolio. As your goals near completion, you would do well to reduce exposure to equities and increase allocation to debt or gold, to ensure that the final corpus is not depleted due to market fluctuations. This is also the time to think of making a will as you would have created some assets by now. Again, considering this is when individuals are prone to critical illnesses, a health cover — as large as possible — is essential.


Senior citizens: Age profile 60 plus
Equities: <20%
Must have: Liquid investments to take care of emergencies


Health insurance is simply indispensable for senior citizens. If you do not have a pre-existing policy, you might find it difficult to obtain one at this age. In such cases, you could bank on low-risk, liquid instruments to take care of your health needs. Also, avoid life insurance, as you are unlikely to be supporting your family at this stage. Instead, look at instruments like 9% senior citizens' savings scheme and post office time deposits that promise safety and regular income. Typically, senior citizens are risk-averse and it would make sense to stick to this approach in 2010 as well, but you can allocate a small percentage towards equities.

 


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Clear your dues to get a clean credit history

You may have settled your dues with your bank. But make sure the bank lets the CIBIL know about it, lest you are branded a 'defaulter',



    THANKS to the advent of credit information companies, banks and lending institutions in India have managed to enhance their ability to prudently assess loan applicants' creditworthiness. However, on the flipside, many borrowers are complaining of having got the short end of the stick.


GRIEVANCES GALORE


One of the chief grouses aired by borrowers is that of lending institutions branding them defaulters despite their having cleared their outstanding dues, particularly in case of compromise settlements. Instead of considering the loan account to be 'closed', many lenders resort to the practice of treating the forgone amount as a 'written-off' portion.


    Though banks are required to revalidate the data submitted to credit information companies like Credit Information Bureau (India) (CIBIL) within 30 days, many fail to do so. This, despite their code of commitment to customers which states that if a borrower's account is regularised after having been in default, steps would be taken to update the information with the credit information company in the subsequent monthly report.


    As a result, such borrowers' credit history is deemed unfavourable by other credit grantors, often leading to their loan applications being rejected. There have been cases where borrowers who had settled their dues more than five years ago have seen their loan applications being rejected by other lenders now, citing unfavourable credit history. Many borrowers say that lenders are using this tactic to extract the entire amount.


    Even the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is reported to have taken cognisance of such activities, and is framing guidelines to deter banks from declaring borrowers who have paid the negotiated amount as defaulters. The aggrieved borrowers, on their part, can take up the matter with the bank's nodal officer (the contact details are available on bank Web sites). If s/he fails to respond to your satisfaction, you can write to the Banking Ombudsman. However, the ideal approach would be to take precautions right at the settlement stage and avoid the tedious path to redressal.


CREDIT CARD & PERSONAL LOANS


Once you have arrived at a settlement with your bank or credit card company, you have to receive an offer letter stating the terms and conditions of the same, including the amount payable. Subsequently, when you pay the negotiated amount, you need to insist on getting a 'No Due Certificate', stating, as the name suggests, that you do not owe the bank any money. The same should be delivered to you a week from the date of repayment. Make sure that you preserve the copy. It will come in handy in case the bank takes a U-turn at a later date. You should also ask for an assurance from the bank that you will not be pronounced a defaulter in the CIBIL records.


HOUSING LOAN


While secured loans usually may not give rise to such disputes, the borrower would do well not to leave loose ends untied. Upon repayment, the key document to be collected from the lending bank or the housing finance company is the title deed pertaining to your house property. This apart, if you have opted for a home loan insurance policy to cover the loan, you need to revoke the endorsement to the bank. Such policies, which are typically sold by banks along with the home loan, undertake to discharge the liability in the event of the insured borrower's death.


    Finally, a month after obtaining these documents, you can also approach CIBIL for a copy of your credit report, if you do not mind shelling out a sum of Rs 142. The report, which will be sent to you upon receipt of the fee and relevant identity proofs, will help you ascertain if the bank has fulfilled the commitment made to you at the time of settlement.


FINANCIAL SEE-SAW


IN COMPROMISE settlements, some banks and lending institutions follow the practice of treating the foregone amount as a 'writtenoff' portion, while updating the borrower's repayment history with credit information cos


AS A RESULT, such borrowers' credit history is likely to be deemed unfavourable by other credit grantors, often leading to their loan applications being rejected


SOME LENDERS also try to use the situation to their advantage by asking the borrowers to shell out the entire outstanding, instead of the mutually-agreed amount

TO AVOID such hassles, one needs to exercise caution at the time of settlement. Once you reach an agreement, the lending bank has to hand over an offer letter stating the terms and conditions of the same, including the amount payable


UPON PAYMENT of the negotiated amount, you should insist on getting a 'No Due Certificate', stating that you do not owe the bank any money, along with an assurance that your records with credit information cos will be updated to reflect the same


TO ENSURE complete peace of mind, you can, a month after obtaining these documents, approach CIBIL for a copy of your credit report to ascertain if the bank has kept its word

 


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Top-Up SIPS – How does it work?

For building long-term wealth, financial planners always advise that the systematic investment plans (SIPs) in equity funds is the best way. But if one takes a 5 or 10-year horizons, there will be many times when there is surplus with the investor because of a rise in income or windfall.

In such circumstances, one could start anew SIP (in case of a rise in income) or investment lump sum (in case of a windfall). But having too many SIPs in your portfolio can be a problem because it clutters the portfolio.

A better option in such circumstances is to go for the top-up option. This option allows you to invest an additional amount in the same scheme.

ICICI Prudential Asset Management Company launched SIP with an attractive feature of a 'top up' two years back. According to the mutual fund house, investors should have an easier option to increase their small investments when their monthly income increases. With this product investors can grow their wealth in tandem with their income growth

How does it work:

The top-up SIP allows investors to increase their periodic investments through an automated route in multiples of Rs 500 on a predetermined and regular basis. By opting for a top up SIP, an investor's contribution towards the SIP will automatically be revised upwards by a minimum of Rs 500 once every year. The investor is allowed to specify the exact date at the time of filing the application.

For instance, an individual starts an SIP for Rs 1,000 and wants his monthly outgo to go up by another Rs 1,000 after a year as he hopes to get a raise in his salary. So, he would pay Rs 1,000 each month for a year towards the SIP investment. After one year, his monthly SIP investment amount will increase to Rs 2,000. After two years, it will become Rs 3,000 per month and so on.

Top up resets your investment amount upwards, periodicallyPositives: The biggest benefit of this product is that it enables you to grow your wealth as your investment potential goes up with a hike in income or salary. A top-up SIP offers the flexibility of additional investment at predetermined intervals of six or twelve months.

Also, there is no cap on the maximum additional amount that can be invested.

The automatic transfer of a higher amount on a regular interval makes the investment process easier and reduces the extra paperwork.

Negatives: Using this facility will force you to declare the incremental amount at the very start of the scheme. That means that an investor should be able to predict the increase in income for a longer tenure – a difficult proposition for anyone.

If one is not in a good financial position or loses one's job, there is no option to decrease or keep the amount steady. The only option available is stopping further investment. If you have stayed invested for more than two years, there is no exit load. But, for investments of less than two years, there is an exit load of one per cent.

As income grows, an investor can increase the SIP amount using this product. However, the incremental amount needs to be declared in the application itself

4 common strategies to build MF portfolio

 

 

MOST mutual fund investors end up investing in three-four schemes with the investment split between systematic investment plans (SIPs) and lump sum. This means that while one has a portfolio of mutual funds -there is a hardly any strategy to manage that fund portfolio. Financial Chronicle talks about how to manage a mutual fund portfolio by walking through the most common strategies and discusses with experts each strategy's pros and cons.

The first and most commonly used mutual fund strategy is one where the investor basically has no plan or structure: Blind strategy. This happens when the investment amount and funds, as well as goals, are not set. The investor blindly puts in money into three-four funds and expects big re turns. If you already have a plan, then adding money to the portfolio is really easy. But you see easy. But you see in this strategy, nothing is fixed, which is the reason why this strategy will have the least success.


Most investors start off their mutual fund investment experience with this strategy and get disillusioned.

The second most commonly used strategy is market timing, a rare ability to get into and out of sectors at the `right' time. Investors believe this fund is the `hot' fund right now. Even experts find it hard to time the market leave alone retail investors to be able to successfully do this.


Retail investors often lack the resources, time and expertise required to analyse the movements of the stock market. The `risks' in timing the market out weigh the likely `gains'.

Once people TMENT Once people burn their hands with the first two strategies, they adopt the third most common ploy: Buy and hold. Make no mistake about it, but this strategy has solid statistics to back it and it will make money most of the time.

This strategy is most popular because it is easy to employ and taxes and exit loads are minimum.

However, the biggest problem is the selection/choice of funds. How do you choose the fund that is re ally going to profit if you hold it for a long time? Selecting the right fund is an imperative to succeed. The fourth common mutual fund portfolio strategy looks at performance weighting. Here, you re-examine your portfolio mix from time to time and fine tune them by selling some of the funds that did the best to buy some of the funds that did the worst.

Let's say you divided your investment sum in four parts with each fund having 25 per cent allocation.

After a year, performance may prompt tweaking the allocation to two funds having 70 per cent, while the other two have 30 per cent.

The problem is people do it too simplistically. One-year performances could be misleading if just three months have made all the difference. The worst-performing funds may be the ones that carry more risks and now you are putting more money into it.

 





--
Regards,
Raghavendra Prasad (RP)

http://prajnacapital.blogspot.com/
http://indianstockmarketpicks.blogspot.com/

Monday, April 26, 2010

Portfolio Management Service - Types

 


   GIVEN the proliferation of mutual funds, there are many investors who have invested in a host of schemes without any particular strategy. Some of the units may have been purchased by subscribing to a new fund offer (NFOs), while some may have been purchased from an existing scheme.


   For such investors who wish to have guidance on their portfolio and at the same time want to invest in mutual funds, a portfolio management scheme (PMS) in mutual funds makes sense. Based on your risk profile, a professional fund manager will run a portfolio of mutual fund schemes for you. By offering you a PMS through mutual funds, the advisor provides a value addition and hence charges you an advisory fee.


   The approach is similar to that of a fund of funds concept. However, under PMS, brokerages and professional portfolio managers hand pick funds for your portfolio based on your specific needs. The various offerings available to investors are:

MUTUAL FUND PMS

With entry load having been abolished, broking houses have started offering PMS schemes through which they can offer value-added service to their clients and charge a fee for the same.


   Typically, a minimum of Rs 5 lakh is accepted under this arrangement. Schemes here could be purely large cap in nature for low-risk investors, and could have a combination of large-cap, midcap and small-cap funds for high-risk investors. The PMS provider does a risk profiling for each client and could customise your portfolio.

As a prudent risk management strategy, he also limits exposure to individual stocks across the fund at 6%, and exposure to industry at 15%. If you are keen not to put any money with a particular fund manager or fund house you can put that condition across.

NON-DISCRETIONARY ONLINE PMS

There are websites like iFAST Financial which provide a platform for PMS services. The main advantage is that PMS is non-discretionary in nature. Based on advice from the advisor, the client could ask the portfolio provider to execute his advice. For clients who want non-discretionary PMS, the account offers flexibility as you have only one-time formalities of account opening. The advantage of such a system is that every advice along with reason could be documented.

ASSET ALLOCATION FUNDS

This is a sub-category of fund of funds. Fund houses such as Templeton, Birla Sun Life and ICICI Prudential offer these to investors. The funds are aimed at offering customised solutions taking into account investors' risk appetite. In some cases, the age of the investor is used to ascertain the risk profile. Again, being a type of fund of fund, the cost is restricted to 0.75% of the assets under management. One can start with Rs 5,000. In most cases, the fund houses prefer to select funds from their own stable than choosing from options available with other fund houses. This may act as an impediment to getting into the best option in the space. The key benefit is that implementation is very easy. For example, if the fund manager's view is to shift from large-cap to mid-cap stocks, in a normal equity fund, he would have to construct a portfolio. Here, he simply buys into a mid-cap fund into the proportion he wishes to.

FUND OF FUNDS

This is the simplest of the avatars available in the market. As an investor you simply have to fill up a form and write a cheque to invest. You can even opt for an SIP in this scheme. The scheme chooses to invest in an array of products in line with its investment objective. Optimix has come out with multimanager schemes. Quantum MF has also come out with an equity fund of funds. One can start with as low as Rs 5,000. The funds in most cases prefer to invest in funds across MF houses. Quantum, for example, does not invest in any of the equity funds of the Quantum AMC. The fund selection is done by personalfn.com, a group entity in the financial planning and advisory space. The money managers work with the objective of wealth creation in the long term. The portfolios are disclosed at regular intervals. Cost is restricted to 0.75% of the assets under management. The drawback of this scheme is that it lacks customisation.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Creation and preservation of wealth

Similarly, papers of his investments in stocks, mutual funds and gold existed in the bank lockers. But the family was not aware of it. Importantly, Sharma has not created a will that would have specifically identified the heirs to his property.

All the family got to know in the initial months was that Sharma had taken bank loans to expand his business.

Soon the family found itself in a severe fund crunch. Loans were paid back from the proceeds of the life insurance policy. But two of his properties went into litigation – a serious money guzzler for a family strapped for cash.

Finally, Sharma's wife decided to let go of two flats to his extended family and sold the plot of land. To her relief, the chartered accountant was able to locate the missing investment papers. And after over one year, the family was able to settle down.

Sharma's case is not is isolated, especially in small business families, and even among professionals. While people like Sharma create wealth, their families are unable to take advantage of this. This is simply because of lack of proper planning, more importantly, lack of a proper will.

Creation and preservation of wealth are important but it must follow proper distribution among people for whom it is meant. That's why an overall financial plan must consider distribution of wealth as a key objective for smooth transition of your wealth and to avoid conflicts within the family.

ASK THESE THREE QUESTIONS:

If I die, what would happen to my wealth?

Does my spouse know about all the insurance, investments, debtors and creditors that I have?

Will my wealth be distributed as per my wishes? If you don't have satisfactory answers to the above questions, it's time you met a lawyer for estate planning. The cost to make a will can range from few thousands to much higher amounts, depending on the complexity of the document and the reputation of the lawyer.

LET'S LOOK AT WHAT GOES INTO DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH:

Estate: The sum of all the assets of aperson, less his liabilities becomes his estate. In short, all properties, bank accounts, investments, insurance and collectibles, less the liabilities of aperson, are collectively called a person's estate.

Will: It is a document that ensures that your wishes, with respect to your estate, (assets less liabilities) are followed after your death. In legal language, a will is defined as "the legal declaration of the intention of the testator, with respect to his property, which he desires to be carried into effect after his death". In other words, a will or a testament means a document made by person whereby he disposes of his property, but such disposal comes into effect only after the death of the testator.

Testator: A person who makes his will is a testator.

Executor: A person, who executes the contents of the will after the demise of the testator, is called the executor. The executor is the legal representative for all purposes of the deceased person.

Legatee/Beneficiary: son who inherits the estate under aWill.

Intestate: without executing (making) a valid last will is known as dying intestate. In such a case, the heirs would be governed by the Succession Act or Personal Law of the deceased. The Succession Act or Personal Law of the deceased gives order of succession.

Probate: This is the legal process of settling the estate of a deceased person, specifically resolving all claims and dissitate a major change in the will. Instances such as a divorce or a family dispute too will require changes. Make sure the will actually reflects your wishes at aparticular point in time.

 

Monetary Policy And You

Banks might reject your loan application if you defaulted on your telephone or electricity bill, soon.

The Reserve Bank of India, in its Annual Monetary Policy, allowed four more credit information companies (CIC) to start operations. This will strengthen the credit appraisal system.

Bankers felt that soon electricity bill, telephone bill and other payments would become part of the credit appraisal system that banks use before sanctioning a loan to the customer.

Just like in developed markets, such as the US and the UK, banks will get to evaluate a loan application based on transactions, other than banking.

Currently, there is just one such agency, Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited (Cibil), that provides information to banks on a person's loan and credit cards. The country's largest bank, the State Bank of India, Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) and ICICI Bank are shareholders in the company.

Of the four companies planning to set up business in country, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has allowed Experian Credit Information Company of India and Equifax Credit Information Services to commence their business from February 17, 2010 and March 26, 2010, respectively. The other two have received in-principal approval.

With the number of companies going up, the tools to evaluate a person's credit-worthiness too will become more complex and all-encompassing, bankers said. In fact, some may try to tap smaller and rural centres, where other agencies may not venture.

Fund Transfer

Transfer of funds could also become faster. The banking regulator said it will enhance fund transfer system to shorten the transfer time. The upgraded system will clear funds on an hourly basis rather than daily settlements that existed earlier.

In National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT), banks earlier used to send transfers only during banking hours. RBI has increased the operating window by two hours on weekdays and one hour on Saturdays. This means, now a customer can transfer funds even after the banking hour. This transfer can now happen within a few hours, if both the accounts are in the same city.

The central bank has also mandated banks to intimate the customer about transfers through text messages or emails. "The concept of positive confirmation to the remitter is perhaps unique across all retail electronic payment systems worldwide," said RBI Governor D Subbarao in the Annual Policy statement.

Deposits

Retail customers who forget to claim their deposits on maturity can now breathe easy. The apex bank has asked banks to formulate policies whereby a customer will get interest for the period the deposit remains with the bank. Many banks have already adopted this policy. In case a customer forgets to collect the fixed deposit on maturity, we send it for auto renewal.

Further, if a person wants to transfer money from one type of deposit to another, the bank will transfer it without any penalty. However, the deposit has to stay with the same bank for a period longer than the original deposit. This will help depositors who wants to transfer funds from, say a term deposit to a recurring deposit or from one term to another, when interest rates go up, because there will be no penalty on the transfer.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Banks may approach mom-&-pop stores with local grasp to expand reach


 


   KIRANA store owners may emerge as the new bankers for rural India with commercial banks lining up to enlist them as business facilitators to increase their reach. The local grocery storekeeper has good information about the financial well-being of the houses he serves and has emerged as the most viable among a number of options to help increase financial inclusion. "Kirana stores look like a very viable option," said S C Sinha, executive director, Oriental Bank of Commerce, adding the bank had got the required approvals.


   The proposal of using local storekeeper has been around for a while, but regulatory frame work for appointing banking correspondents came only in November 2009. The RBI has allowed banks to explore tie ups with local operators such as kirana stores, medical shop owners and public call office operators, agents selling small savings schemes, petrol pump owners and retired teachers to further the cause of financial inclusion.


   The real push has come from the government which is putting pressure on state-owned banks to achieve greater financial inclusion and even wants to include it in the criteria used for evaluating their performance. Indian Bank is even considering a separate company for using kirana stores to extend its reach in rural areas, its chairman and managing director TM Bhasin said.


   Other state-owned banks such as Bank of Baroda and Oriental Bank are also in the process of firming up agreements with kirana store owners. Kirana store owners are already in the business of giving small domestic loans and will have the wherewithal to help banks with the know-your-customer (KYC) norms. This will also curtail the role of money lenders by giving easy and direct to credit to those at the bottom of pyramid.


   Norms allow a kirana store acting as a banking facilitator to disburse loans up to Rs 25,000 per borrower for which they will get a fee from the bank. The final liability for the loan will, however, rest with the bank only. They can also recover the same amount besides selling other financial products such as micro insurance, mutual fund and pension products.


   The appeal of the kirana store model is in its scalability and pan-India possibility. "We are exploring the Kirana store model, as it has a large presence all across the country," said MD Mallya, CMD, Bank of Baroda. Punjab National bank, the second largest public sector bank, wants to explore other options as well. "The basic principle is that you need to find the right kind of people, who are ready to adopt the new tech-nology," said chief-general manager PNB, RIS Sidhu.

 


Bajaj Finserv may foray into asset management biz by December

 



BAJAJ Finserv (BFS), the financial services arm of the Bajaj Group is likely to start its mutual fund company by December 2010. "The application is still with Sebi. The asset management company should be operational by the end of this calendar year," Bajaj Finserv managing director Sanjiv Bajaj said.


   Allianz Global Investors and Bajaj Finserv will hold a 51% and 49% stake, respectively, in the equally managed proposed venture, he said.


   Bajaj Finserv already has a partnership with the Allianz Group of Germany for its life insurance and general insurance businesses.


   Besides, the financial services firm is into vehicle finance through its subsidiary Bajaj Auto Finance. For the third quarter ended December 2009, Bajaj Finserv posted a nearly threefold jump in net profit at Rs 34.88 crore against Rs 12 crore in the same quarter a year ago.


   Income from operations rose to Rs 119.25 crore for the third quarter, against Rs 85.85 crore in the same period last fiscal.


   Among verticals, life insurance business of Bajaj Finserv posted Rs 154 crore profit in the third quarter against Rs 30 crore in the same quarter a year ago, registering over five-old increase. At the same time, vehicle finance arm Bajaj Auto Finance posted a 145% surge in net profit at Rs 27 crore compared with Rs 11 crore in the same quarter the previous fiscal.

 

UTI OPPORTUNITIES

 

The fund has accomplished what it stated it would do and has made money for its investors. Launched in July 2005, it got off to a weak start. It delivered a meagre 11 per cent in 2006, underperforming both, its category and benchmark by huge margins.

But, come 2007, the fund began to make up for lost ground. Upadhyay took over in March 2007 and since then, the funds performance has been more than impressive. Over the three-year period ended February 28, 2010, it was the best performing fund in its category, with an annualised return of 20 per cent, double its benchmark (10.3 per cent) and category average (10.32 per cent).

The mandate of this fund requires Upadhyaya to dynamically shift between sectors, depending on the macro economic outlook and opportunities available in the market.

By and large, Upadhyaya attempts to keep around 65-75 per cent of his portfolio in four to five select sectors, which he believes will outperform the broader market in the short to medium term. He also sticks to a 70 per cent large-cap tilt and averages at around 40 stocks in the portfolio.

The high cash levels in the fund don't imply he is not fully invested but indicate derivative exposures. "We employ derivatives either to hedge part of the portfolio or employ it for reverse arbitrage trades. Also, entry and exit is easier in the futures market because of high liquidity," says Upadhyaya.

 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Traveller’s Guide - Air Miles

 

Air miles are considered the world's largest currency. Yet trillions of air miles go waste due to inadequate information.

   Frequent flying may mean at times stiff limbs and a severe jet lag, but it also offers an opportunity to travel free. Airlines are nowadays aggressively pitching their frequent flyer programs (FFPs or air miles) to earn passenger loyalty. The funda is simple—while passengers fly more than usual to earn a free journey, the airline gets to boost its revenue kitty and brand image.


   Yet, with personal lives becoming busier than ever before, it's practically impossible for travellers to keep track of air miles. A person in the corporate world works for at least eight hours a day, travels two times a month, manages family's money matters—so, how can one expect them to be aware of what airline loyalty programs have on offer and how can they maximise the travel experience at minimal expense.


   Today there are over 70 airline FFPs worldwide, and a complicated network of airline alliances and partnerships. In India, Kingfisher Airlines, Indian Airlines and Jet Airways have popular FFPs. But there is little awareness on effective utilisation of airline loyalty programs. Rough estimates show that more than half the air miles generated are lost due to inadequate information, unfriendly redemption processes and travellers' preference to take the best flight, time-wise as well as price wise. "There exist trillions of unused frequent flyer miles worldwide. Either the person doesn't accumulate enough miles required for an award or the award inventory is capacity controlled and they can't redeem the miles for the dates and destinations they want," says Chris Lopinto, president & co-founder of expertflyer.com, a New York-based air travel information service firm.


   Globally, airline FFPs are profit centres, that is, their revenues earned from sale of miles to partners outstrips the costs incurred in running the FFP and providing for redemption. Due to lower levels of awareness about loyalty programs in India, however, most FFPs here are cost centres. "For a better redemption rate, airlines need to be more informative and creative of tie-ups," feels Zahir Abbas, associate consultant—travel retail at Technopak Advisors, a business consultancy firm.


   However, for the best possible utilisation, it's advisable for air travellers to consolidate the miles into a single account to avoid miles breakage and maximise chances of getting an award ticket. "Besides, one needs to be flexible with dates and check for award inventory often and as soon as possible after the flight is published," says Lopinto. This apart, one also needs to consider his/her travel pattern to understand what program is best suited.


   There are frequent flyer miles on credit cards too. But critics say there are more pains than gains. Rajan Chhibba founder of Intrim Business Associates, a management consultancy firm, believes co-branded cards don't offer extra mileage, as they are perceived to. "The benefit is often equal to the effective cost one incurs. They are good for the sign-up bonuses, but then that's where it finishes. They carry a high annual fee and an exorbitant interest rate," he says. In India, credit card players such as Deutsche Bank and American Express offer such cards and provide benefits such as award miles remain valid for unlimited time period apart from bonus reward points. But then terms are demanding too. For instance, Deutsche Bank Miles & More Credit Card requires one to make at least one miles-related purchase every month to make sure award miles do not expire.


   The next phase of air travel, experts believe, could see aviation players increase their tie-ups with other airlines for more miles earning and making each FFP move towards becoming a profit centre. "Globally the trend will be to improve the air redemptions success rate as there is a significant revenue that major airlines generate by sale of miles and consumer dissonance on redemption can hurt this revenue stream if corrective actions are not implemented," says Rahul Kucheria, head of the Jet Privilege FFP at Jet Airways. Jet's loyalty programme has over 17 lakh members globally and tie-ups with over 60 partners across airlines such as Lufthansa, Virgin, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, hotels, telecommunication, retail and other categories.


   A research, in fact, shows that customers who redeem are more likely to continue their patronage and have a greater life time value. "Frequent flyer miles are the world's largest currency. To give the members maximum benefits for their accrued miles, we keep on revisiting our loyalty programme from time-to-time," says the Kingfisher Airlines spokesperson. To enable the family members to pool their miles in one family head account, Kingfisher Airlines FFP, King Club recently introduced the family club. "The idea has been to ensure that the infrequent travellers in a family can pool the miles into one main account to take advantage of our redemption options," he says.


   According to Abbas of Technopak, the day is not far when there will a single loyalty program between all major airlines. "Loyalty programs are always a very strong method to keep loyal customers to the brand. With the advent of budget airlines, this has taken a hit. Travellers (specially frequent) are waiting for innovative collection and redemption avenues," he feels.


What Are Air Miles?

These are reward points one earns by travelling frequently on an airline or an alliance of airlines. Once accumulated in large numbers, one can redeem these points for a free ticket, gift vouchers or even hotel bookings.

How Do You Get Them?

You have to become a member of an airlines loyalty program to start collecting them. Once you do that, you can gain air miles by spending on air tickets, shopping at specific places, if linked to the program among others. For instance, a Mumbai/ Delhi to New York return flight on Jet Airways economy class can earn a member at least 14,600 JPMiles. These 14,600 JPMiles can get you a free return ticket on Mumbai-Goa route.

How Can You Best Use Them?

To make the best use of air miles, consolidate the miles in to a single account. This will make sure there's no miles breakage and enhance your chances of getting a award ticket.

 


BIRLA SUN LIFE FRONTLINE EQUITY

 

This ones a winner. If compared with the benchmark, it has had just one annual underperformance (2003) in seven years. From a relative point of view, it began to beat the category average only from 2006, a result of Patil taking over the fund in November 2005.

In 2009, it delivered 90.45 per cent (category average, 80.3 per cent). Its performance has not gone unnoticed. As assets under management (AUM) swelled, the outcome has been a more diversified portfolio, with around 60 stocks (up from 35 in January 2009). Since 2008, apart from RIL, Bharti Airtel and Infosys Technologies, no stock has accounted for more than five per cent of the portfolio.

This fund attempts to target the same sector weights in its portfolio, as is found in its benchmark – BSE 200. But, that does not mean the fund manager is restricted to the benchmark universe. His individual stock selection is totally flexible and there is some flexibility in computing the sector weights; either plus or minus 25 per cent of the weight in the index or an absolute figure of plus or minus 3 per cent, whichever is higher.

While Patil broadly adheres to this strategy, there have been the occasional deviations, such as energy and engineering in 2006 and 2007. "We have always been positive on capital goods, specially power equipment companies. This sector will continue to grow and the outlook is bright," says Patil. But, due to stretched valuations, he was underweight on energy at that time.

Though Patil is positive on mid caps, he ensures this fund has a large cap thrust. Higher than average returns, lower risk and a well diversified portfolio make it a sound proposition.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

DSP BlackRock Small and Midcap Equity Fund

 

 

DSP BlackRock Small and Midcap Equity Fund has been generously rewarding its investors since last year and is running high on confidence

 

0SINCE the revival of the equity markets over the past one year, it is the small and the midcap stocks that have outperformed the broader market. Even as the Sensex and the Nifty gained about 56% and 51%, respectively, in the past one year, the BSE Midcap and Smallcap surged by 96% and 119%, respectively during the period. No wonder that most small and midcap-oriented mutual funds have delighted their investors with extremely generous returns and have beaten the funds that played safe and maintained a large exposure in large cap stocks. The DSP BlackRock Small and Midcap equity fund has been one of front-runner in its category and is running high on confidence these days.

PERFORMANCE:

For a small and midcap fund, a launch in 2006-07 would have ideally meant a strong performance right from the start. However, for DSP BlackRock Equity, success has come gradually over a period of time.


   Despite catering to small and midcap equities, the fund's returns of about 55% in 2007 could match only that of the Sensex and the Nifty but not that of its benchmark index — the CNX Midcap, which delivered nearly 77% then.


   In 2008, however, the fall for the fund was as gruesome as it was for its benchmark index. All its earnings of 2007 were completely washed off as it fell by a whopping 59% during the financial crisis, which had cost Sensex and Nifty a loss of about 52% each and a loss of more than 59% to the CNX Midcap index.


   However, just when investors would have probably written off this fund from their investment mandate, considering its two-year performance, it made a dramatic recovery.


   The year 2009 saw the fund gain nearly 119%, beating not only the Sensex and the Nifty but also the 99% returns of the CNX Midcap index by huge margins. Thus, those who invested in the fund in early 2007 have easily made an absolute gain of over 50% during this period of over two years.


   Even in the current calendar year, the fund's performance can be easily aligned to its benchmark index with both having returned around 7% each since January this year. The Sensex and the Nifty have gained just about 2% since then.

PORTFOLIO:

With more than 60 stocks in its portfolio, DSP BlackRock Small & Midcap Fund is well diversified across various sectors, with companies in the services sector, healthcare and FMCG space accounting for maximum exposure. This appears quite opportunistic since healthcare and FMCG stocks have done extremely well in the past year. Also, this sectoral preference is quite unlike most other equity mutual funds that prefer highest exposure in the financials and energy sectors.


   Within the healthcare space, the fund has invested into Cadila Healthcare, Torrent Pharma, Fresenius Kabi Oncology, Lupin and Panacea Biotec among others and has earned good returns on each of these stocks. As such, the fund is currently running an extremely profitable portfolio with nearly 82% of its equity holdings currently quoting a price higher than the cost of investment. As far as the fund's portfolio management is concerned, it appears to be actively managed, churning stocks at frequent intervals.


   The fund has made opportunistic investment in 2008, mid 2009 and recently added stocks like Federal Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, United Breweries, Bharat Forge, Hyderabad Industries, Gujarat Alkalies and Man Infra Construction among others in its portfolio.


   Moreover, by diversifying its total portfolio assets under management (AUM) of over Rs 750 crore to more than 60 stocks, the fund has restricted its exposure and thereby the risk per stock to less than 5%.


DSP BlackRock Small & Midcap Equity Fund's performance in the current bullrun has been a delight to its investors. While this proves the fund's ability to successfully ride a bull-rally, the fund manager has still pass the test of cushioning the hit to investors during a market downturn. Those looking forward to invest in this fund would, however, do well to understand the risk of investing in a midcap fund before taking a call.

 

HDFC TOP 200

 

We like this fund for its solid long-term record and skilled management. With a five-year annualised return of 27 per cent, it is the best performer in its category (February 28, 2010).

In 2006 and 2007, investors fretted at the average performances. In 2006, it was the high exposure to defensives that pulled it down. In 2007, energy was offloaded even when the going was good, while exposure to financials did not impact as much as metals and construction, where the funds exposure was low.

In 2008, the funds success in standing upright in a bear market, without resorting to debt or high cash levels, was a testimony to Jains skill, who restricted the fall to just 45 per cent, around 11 per cent less than BSE 200 and eight per cent lower than the category average.

Finally in 2009, Jain silenced critics by beating the category average by a margin of 14 per cent. Low cash levels, being overweight in autos and banking and underweight in power utilities and energy (reduced exposure significantly to RIL, which underperformed the broader market) helped.

The fund manager even has the liberty to in unlisted companies that would qualify to be in the top 200 by market capitalisation on the BSE.

Investors can be sure of a good quality portfolio and a fund manager who sticks by his convictions, irrespective of whoever else is playing the momentum game." "We invest in good quality businesses, keep away from richly valued investments to the extent feasible and remain diversified," says Jain.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mutual Fund Review: FORTIS FLEXI DEBT REGULAR

 

This is an aggressive fund that has mostly generated returns to match. Its agenda is to actively vary its stance, based on the yield outlook. In the last two years, this has resulted in a volatile but satisfactory performance. The sudden monetary loosening towards 2008-end saw it go aggressively long and generate excellent returns. When the flip side started playing in 2009-mid, it made losses. However, for the investor who was looking to actively chase trends, the overall result was as desired.

The main objective of this fund is to generate income through a range of debt and money market instruments of various maturities to maximise income, while maintaining an optimum balance between yield, safety and liquidity.

The debt portion of the portfolio will be actively managed, based on the fund house's view on interest rates. By actively managing the portfolio, the scheme attempts to achieve its objective by way of both interest yield and capital appreciation. The portfolio may also include liquid assets and other short maturity assets, especially during rising interest rates.

Debt instruments with maturity of over ayear will form 70-90 per cent of the portfolio. Money market instruments (cash/call/reverse repo) and debentures with maturity of less than a year will form 30-100 per cent. Debt instruments may include securitised debt up to 60 per cent, while exposure to derivatives will be 50 per cent.

From a long-term perspective, the fund has managed to stay closer to the top of its peers for four years. All in all, it has done its job of actively anticipating yield trends to generate returns.


CANARA ROBECO INCOME

 

The fund has been in existence since September 2002, but, it made its mark only in 2008. With a return of 29.95 per cent, it was the best performer in its category, giving second highest return by any debt fund, ever. That was no stroke of luck. It performed superbly in 2009, with areturn of 6.84 per cent (category average, 0.24 per cent).

This open-ended debt scheme generates income through investments in debt and money market securities of different maturity and issuers of different risk profiles. The scheme will invest in money market instruments (with unexpired maturity of less than a year) and rated, unrated corporate bonds and debentures. The allocation to debt will vary between 80-100 per cent.

The fund manager actively manages the maturity of the portfolio. For most of 2008, the average maturity was less than aweek. But in September 2008, it shot up to 5.7 years and again came down to 1.25 years the next month. This nimble-footed strategy was again seen in 2009, when the fund took its average maturity to 7.5 years (June) from just 1.2 years (May 2009). Interestingly, over the past three years, the funds average portfolio maturity is lower than the category average.

The fund maintains a well-diversified portfolio with a mix of long- and shortterm instruments. In the last 18 months, it invested mostly in debentures (32 per cent), overnight paper (23 per cent), GoI securities, certificate of deposits (17 per cent) and treasury bills (13 per cent). Generally, it invests in P1+ rated short-term paper. It has never invested in below AA rated long-term paper.

The churning has come at a cost and it is among the most expensive funds in the category.

Friday, April 16, 2010

BIRLA SUN LIFE DYNAMIC BOND REGULAR

 

This fund was launched in 2004, till mid-2008, it had a patchy existence.

Since then, it has done a good job of fulfilling its basic goal of capturing price movements dynamically, without taking excessive risk.

For instance, in 2008-end, when the Reserve Bank of India opened the floodgates of liquidity, funds that increased their maturity sharply to 10 years and above made gains of 10-20 per cent. In the next quarter, most of these funds were caught on the wrong side of the yield curve. However, Dynamic Bond stayed within limits, gaining a healthy 6.4 per cent in December 2008 and managed to stay positive with a return of 1.3 per cent in early 2009. Since then, it has been following the strategy of conservative exploitation of opportunities.

The investment objective of this scheme is to optimise returns by designing a portfolio to dynamically track interest rate movements in the short-term by reducing the duration in a rising rate environment, while increasing it in a falling rate environment. The investment strategy would revolve around structuring the portfolio so as to capture the positive price movements and minimise the impact of adverse ones. To maximise returns and gain maximum value out of securities, the fund managers may look at curve spreads on both the gilt and bond markets.

This fund is a good choice for investors who are looking for a dynamic, yet safety-oriented profile.

Who can be a co-applicant for a loan?

 

   A co-applicant is one who applies along with the borrower for a loan. A borrower has the option of having a co-applicant to a loan along with himself. The co-applicant cannot be a minor. Most banks permit a few specified relations who can be co-applicants - brothers, parent and son, husband and wife.


   In contrast, a co-owner includes all the owners of a property. Banks insist that all co-owners be co-applicants necessarily. Again, a minor is not allowed to be a co-owner as legally a minor cannot enter into a contract. Consequently, all co-applicants are not co-owners but all co-owners have to necessarily be co-applicants.


   Two or more persons can jointly apply for a housing loan subject to certain conditions. In the present day, when the cost of living is going up and usually both spouses work, having co-applicant becomes more of a necessity than a requirement. There is no legal requirement to have a co-applicant. However, in order to enhance the loan eligibility, a borrower has an option to resort to by having a co-applicant. This way, the total eligible income for the purpose of computing the housing loan increases, thereby resulting in higher loan eligibility.


   However, only in certain cases of acceptable relationships, as stipulated by the bank, the income of the co-applicant can be included in arriving at loan eligibility of the borrower. Other relatives cannot be co-applicants nor can their income be included to compute loan eligibility. Normally, a bank does not permit friends or relatives who are not blood relatives to take a loan jointly. Only if the co-applicant receives income from a regular source will that income be considered for determining the loan eligibility.


   The owner of the property should always be the main applicant. A person can jointly apply with his spouse. The property may be in the name of any one of the two. The person whose income is considered for the loan need not necessarily be the owner of the property.


   In case of parents and children, these rules will apply:

Father and son    

In case of a father and son, if the applicant is the only son, he can jointly apply with his father with both the incomes being considered. The property should be in their names jointly and it does not matter who the main owner is. This is because in any case the son is the legal heir of the father's property.

Father and sons    

In case a person has two or more sons and if he wants to apply jointly with one of them, he should not be the main owner of the property. This is because, on his death, his children should inherit the property jointly and may cause an inheritance dispute. The father may only be taken as co-applicant and his income may be considered for the loan. He may be a co-owner or not own the property at all. Under no condition should he be the main owner of the property.

Unmarried daughter and father    

An unmarried daughter can apply jointly with their father. However, the property should only be in the name of the daughter and the income of the father should not be considered. This is to avoid any legal complications on the subsequent marriage of the applicant.


   Where applicant is the owner and has a son and a daughter, an affidavit may be obtained from the daughter that she has no claim on the property.

Brothers and sisters    

An applicant may apply with his brother provided they are currently staying together, and intend to do so in the new property as well.


   However, a brother cannot apply with his sister. Also, an applicant cannot have her sister as a co-applicant. Further, a minor child cannot be a co-applicant with the parent in any case.

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