Interview with an Expert Financial Planner - Subhashini Manivannan


What exactly is "Financial Planning"?

Planning our defined goals within our income and available financial resources according to the time required and target value .


Whom do you suggest that "Financial Planning" is very necessary for?

For each and every earning person and who manages money.

So you mean even a home-maker needs Financial Planning? 

Absolutely!

Can you please explain?

Financial planning starts at home. Budgeting, prioritising & allotting money for specific goals starts from home. Small savings at various assets like Chit funds, gold, silver and cash reserves are the financial planning avenues that homemakers should consider.  Even money lending for income generation and borrowing for emergencies are also a part of Financial Planning.


What is the importance of Financial Planning?

The 3 most important reasons for Financial Planning are

  • To achieve the pre-defined goals like children education, wedding and retirement planning. 
  • To realise dreams like foreign travel etc... 
  • To preserve the existing wealth and to accumulate more wealth. 


Is Financial Planning differs with age?

Yes, it does.

Life stages are very important for financial planning. Every person's financial goals differ with age. There are different stages such as wealth accumulation, wealth preservation and wealth conservation and it depends on the age of the individual.


Can you please explain more?

When a person starts earning at the age of 21, he is in the accumulation cycle. Because he starts saving for the future. At the of 35 yrs  he starts saving for his family maintainable fund reserves and education for children and planning for his retirement which means he is on the wealth accumulation and preservation cycle. At the age of 55 he spends for children's wedding and higher education so he is in a spending mode with his income mostly stopped or reduced.  After that on ordinary scenarios he is in the spending stage only.

Are there any external economic risks that one needs to be concerned about?

Yes, definitely. There are external economic risks such as Inflation rates and Interest rates that will affect the saving capacity of the investor. 


What kind of investments do you recommend?

There are many investment avenues available for investors according to their risk taking capacity (risk appetite).

Life stages (age) plays an important role in the Earning stage and Spending stage .

According to their financing goals, time horizon and risk taking capacity they can choose from the following few asset classes:

FDs/ bonds
Mutual funds
Direct equities
Commodities
Gold and silver
Real estates and
Cash reserves etc.

How often do you evaluate your client's situation and provide an up-to-date forecast?

We can't be rigid in this time frame. I feel that it is good to evaluate once in 3 months. If any situation arises such as my client need to invest more or withdraw funds or switch from one asset class to another then I would evaluate the market situations and send my updates.

Are you an authorised Financial Adviser?

Yes, I am a certified Financial Adviser. I am authorised to advise on Life Insurance, General Insurance products and Mutual Funds.

How long have you been a Financial Adviser?

For the past 11 yrs.

Exactly what services do you provide to your clients?

Wealth Management

Can you please tell us more on that?

I suggest appropriate products based on my client's income, goals and risk taking capacity.

What investment firms do you use in your practice?

I use Asset Management Companies and Insurance Companies. 


Can you give us a few names?

I use the services of Insurance companies like LIC, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, Max Life Insurance, HDFC Standard Life Insurance, Star Health Insurance, Apollo Munich Health Insurance. Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, HDFC Asset Management,ICICI Prudential Asset Management, Birla Sun Life Asset Management etc.


Do you offer different levels of service?

Yes, I do. I make short-term and long-term recommendations as well as offer different plans and options based on my client's interests and needs.

Do you offer different models or investment pools dependent on client’s risk tolerance?

Yes. Each customer's financial need, capacity and time horizons are different. So financial planning is tailor made to suit each client's situation.


Subhashini Manivannan
subhashini68@yahoo.ca

How to Keep Your Facebook Business Page Active


How would you feel when you visit a Facebook Business Page and find the most recent post dated a month back? Won't you feel that either there is no business activity for so long in this place or the business owner is not so interested in keeping the visitors informed about the professional activities of the business? What would be your conclusion? Will you be interested in coming back and visiting the Page again? Will you be interested in doing business with them?

In contrast to that, how would you feel when you visit a Page that is buzzing with a lot of activities? Won't you want to become a part of that activity? Won't you be interested in knowing what actually all the buzz is about? You would. Right? Then that is what a visitor of your Business Page should feel when he or she visits your Page.

There are businesses vying to get the attention of the visitors. When someone visits your business page and see it active with posts announcing the recent developments and new products releases and updates, then they would naturally tend to go through the posts, read the announcements and contact you if they find something that they came to your business page looking for.

Inactivity in a business place means that either the business is dying or there is no business for so long. At least, that is what would be the perception of a visitor when he or she don't see any recent activity in your Facebook Business Page. You wouldn't want your fan page visitors to feel that. So keep it active by posting updates on your Fan Page regularly. Fan Page is like your virtual business space for Facebook Users.

If you are wondering how to keep your fan page active, then go on and read below.

Showcase your products as often as possible

Look how Shabnam Creation - Quilling Paper Jewelry business page is active with their updates almost every day. They have shared their beautiful pieces of jewelry. Fans have liked them, posted their appreciation and asked for prices. So keep posting your products regularly to evince an interest in the new visitors of your Page. And you will get repeated and regular visitors when you keep updating your business page regularly.

Share your business activities

Your facebook business page would look fresh and interesting if you share online as well as offline business activities of yours such as meetings with your clients, your experience with a vendor when you purchased a material for your product or an article that you have written about the importance of using/choosing your products, your own customer experience etc. Showcasing just your products all the time might make your fans lose interest.

Post Quiz, Contests and Giveaways

Make your virtual business place interesting to your fans by posting quizzes, contests and giveaways. I can assure you would see a new flurry of activities on your fan page. Look how contests and giveaways are performing in this business page - Quiz Clothing and UNiDays. You will get some ideas for your own business contest, quizzes and giveaways that you could host on your Business Page. 

Share Videos on your business page

Facebook has set the videos to autoplay when a user scrolls their newsfeed or visit your Page. Videos have always been the best marketing media for any business. So make a video of your business and share it with your fans to make a one on one contact with them. You don't have to be an expert in videography. You can make videos right inside the timeline of your Fan Page. All you have to do is to choose 5 to 6 photographs of your products and create a slide show that would run as a video on your fan page once it is published. Isn't that amazing? Look at the screen shot that I have given below for your ready reference. Earlier building a Photo Carousel, Slide Show and Canvas was only available for the Facebook Ad users. Now Facebook has rolled out this feature to all its Page users. Make use of this amazing tool and keep your fan page active and interesting.



HAPPY BLOGGING!

For Your Growth :)
Uma Mahi.

Interview with Varsha Grover of HER CHOICE



Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi, my name is Varsha Grover. Married and have a son. I have done a diploma in fashion designing. I run a women salwar kameez garment store along with my parents. I always loved clothes and colors. I feel very happy to work in a place surrounded by them.

How did you get into this business of designing clothes for women and not for men?

HER CHOICE was started in the year 1982. That was the time when salwar kameez was introduced in the South Indian market. My parents saw this opportunity and ventured into it as they knew a lot about fabrics. My mom was well versed in stitching ladies garments. So that's how I grew up. My parents taught me a lot about this business. I learned to choose the designs from my dad and learned to stitch from my mom. I didn't do men's garment because I felt there was a lot of scope in women's clothing. I don't mean that it is not there in men's clothing, but with women's clothing, we have a lot of variety and designs to choose from. 




How long have you been helping your parents in this business?

I worked with my parents for 5years before I got married. And after a break of 4yrs, I joined back with a promise to not to quit.

Have you learned all the tricks of the trade to run this business successfully in the future?

Have I learned all the tricks? Well, no. But I am getting there, and soon. I am very confident that I would run this business successfully.

So you mean you are ready to take over the business and give them their retirement?

'Retirement' is not a word that I could associate with my mom. If the decision is left to her then she would make me take retirement and she would continue working. Plus it would be impossible for me to let them go. With me around they find more time to relax and to travel. 

What is the best and worst part of running a family owned business?

The best part of running a family business is that I am allowed to bring in new ideas and experiment with them without any fear of being judged on the outcome of the experiment. I wouldn't say that this is the worst part, but it is very challenging to work in a family business because I have to strive hard to keep up the standard and the reputation of the brand that was built as well as the respect that the family earned from our customers over the years.

How is the support you get from your immediate family members? Can you explain a bit with an example?

My family has always supported me. My strongest pillar is my husband. I am very proud of him. He was the one who urged me to get back in the business. He turned a shy woman into a confident one. His trust and belief in me made it easier for me to start working again. I feel so grateful about that. Not all aspiring business women get this kind of support from her better half. 

Which woman business person has influenced you?

There is only one business woman who has always influenced me and that is my 'MOM'. I always look up at her with great respect. Today I am so happy that I get to learn and work beside the woman I idolize. When a customer tells me that I do business just like my Mom, I feel that it is the best compliment.

Which part of the year is your busiest? why?

Our busiest year is from August to January, as it is the festival season.  Also, we have our annual sale that we put up just 20 days before Diwali.

What is the specialty of "Her Choice" that women don't find in any other women's clothing store?

At Her Choice, we believe in valuing our customers. We try to give the best of everything. We never compromise on the quality of our fabric, the stitching of a dress, the before and after-sales service to our customers. We don't leave any stone unturned to make our customers comfortable and satisfied.




We even do facetime to our customers who live abroad. They choose their stuff and do an online transaction of payment. Then we courier their clothes to them.

Our designs cater to all age groups. We have traditional as well as contemporary stuff. We have wedding wear, evening gowns, and casual wear. If our customers come to us with a picture in their mind then we try our level best to bring the picture into reality. :)

Our staffs are like a part of our family. They have been with us for as long as I can remember.


Where are you located and how can a customer contact you?

We are located at the below address:

HER CHOICE
SHOP NO.1-B, 
K.G.BUSINESS CENTER,
65,T.T.K ROAD, OPP. SHANKARA HALL,
ALWARPET,
CHENNAI-600018

Our contact numbers are (044)-24983023, 42108363, 7358048012
We are open from 10.30am to 8.30pm 7 days a week.


Photographs shared in this post are the property of HER CHOICE.

How to Run an Online Jewelry Business


If you are a first time visitor of my blog and if you want to know who Durga Devi is then please read this blog post before reading the below interview.

In this interview, I asked her a few questions about financial investments, online customer experience, online customer interaction, tips to store the jewelry etc.,

How much one should invest to start this business online?

Initially, one can start from Rs.1000.00 to Rs.2000.00. Once you start getting orders, you may need to spend more to fulfill your orders before the final payment from the customer.  
How many designs should be made ready to show to the customers first, when you introduce your business for the first time online?

I suggest making 5 to 10 models ready in each category of jewelry. Only when the customer finds something attractive new designs with a reasonable price tag, would they contact you to give orders

From where do you buy those decorative items for your jewelry?

I get all my stock from different shops in Parrys Corner. If there is an emergency or urgency then I get it online.

Do you buy any specific brand of items from Parrys Corner for your jewels?

No, I don’t look for any particular brands. I just look for the quality of the items. Sometimes I go by the customer’s feedback.

Which online store would you prefer to shop?

I don’t buy my stuff from any specific online stores. I am a member of two Facebook Groups namely Silk Thread Creations and Silk Thread Jewellery. Both are closed Groups. I post my requirement in the group and I buy from the best bidder.  

How exactly do you prepare a design? Would you draw a design on a paper or a cloth before actually start making the jewelry?

No paperwork at all. I do all the design in my mind. The creativity starts flowing when I start working on a design. I usually get ideas when I start to work on a design. I don’t preplan a design. At least not yet.

How do you choose the colors? Do you go with your client’s instructions or with your intuition?

I mostly go with the color preferences of my customers. Some customers give me the freedom to choose my own colors. At that times, I choose the most liked colors such as Pink, Blue, and Red.

Imagine if you are going to design a bangle for a lady’s wedding, what are the main questions would you ask the lady?

When a customer say that it's for her wedding then I show my Bridal Collections as well as other new models. If they don’t choose any bangles from my collections, then I would ask for the design of their choice. I would also give them my suggestions about how would their choice look with their wedding dress and with other accessories. I always leave the choice to them unless they ask for my suggestions specifically. I also make sure to know what kind of design they would like and not like. For example, some like geometrical designs and some prefer floral designs.

Would you try to change the thought or idea of a client if she chooses a design or the color that doesn’t compliment other attires such as the color of the dress or the color of their scarf etc?

Yes, I do. And it has always ended up with both the parties happy and satisfied.

Have you ever handled tough customers yet? What was your experience with them and how did you handle them?

Oh yes, many times. I come across customers that keep bargaining and ask for the lowest prices. I usually explain to them politely that the price is always reasonable compared with the effort I put to bring the jewelry to the market. Some would still want to negotiate. In that case, I would simply let that customer go.

Have you come across a client that gave you specific instructions on design and colors and that it has all gone wrong?

It has happened once. When I showed her the design with colors that she wanted, she didn’t like it. And then she didn’t mind telling me what exactly she wanted and letting me do it all over again. She liked this second product. That was a happy ending. That was a new experience. :)

Since you are doing an online business, where do you store your jewels and how do you store them so that they don't lose their quality and shine?

These jewels should not be kept in the open. They should be kept inside closed boxes free from dirt. Else they would lose their shine and brightness. I store all my jewels in my room in airtight boxes.

What should a customer do to keep their jewelry safe so that they don't loose their brightness, shine and color?

Store it in airtight boxes. If you don’t have one, then put inside an airtight plastic bag and store the bag in a dirt and water free zone.

What are the things they should avoid if they want to use the jewelry for a longer time?

Since these jewelry are made of thread, they should avoid using it underwater. I suggest them to remove the jewelry and store in a dirt and water free zones when they wash their clothes and utensils.


Where can a customer see your pieces of jewelry and how can they buy from you?

I have a facebook business page for Chithoo Jewels. I keep it updated with my new models and new product introductions.

Can you show some of your new designs to your readers here?

Yes. Here they are. 

Some of the Bangles of Chithoo Jewels - Adults Collection




Some of the Danglers of Chithoo Jewels



Some of the Danglers of Chithoo Jewels - Kids Collections



Some of the Bangles of Chithoo Jewels - Kids Collections





If they want to see the entire product lines then they can visit my Business Page. If they need any information on the products then they can send me a message in Whatsapp 080159 34785 or FB Messenger. I would reply them asap.

Are you open to teaching/ training other women to make jewelry?

Oh Yes! I would be more than happy if I could help someone by passing the skills that I have learned.

Durga Devi

Successful Woman Entrepreneur - 17 Years and Going Great Guns



Can you give a small intro about yourself?

A woman entrepreneur, engaged in the business of air-conditioning, we are channel partners for Daikin Air Conditioning (I) Ltd., engaged in projects of VRV, Ductables and Room air-conditioners.  We offer complete cooling solutions and have been in the business for the last 17 years.  My name is Sukanya Sriram, and I am one among the few thousand women entrepreneurs chosen and trained by Goldman Sachs at the Indian School of Business and awarded a certificate    

How did you get into this profession? What is YOUR story?

My entry into the business was more out of a necessity.  My husband Sriram is an engineer and had a unit that was making room air-conditioners in Pondicherry.  As an offshoot there was a need for a service set up in Chennai and so I started at home, moved to a small office, and started to cater to the servicing and maintenance of the air-conditioners that his company had sold.  We started taking up AMCs and once we were successful we moved on to the business of sales and service, providing complete cooling solutions for the customer. 

How long have you been running this business successfully?

Have been in the industry close to 17 years, and we are still growing.  Our success is measured more in terms of our clients rather than the money we make. 

Can a woman who is interested in doing ANY business enter into this business of selling air-conditioners?

I think women are extremely smart species in the universe.  They are doing the most difficult job of nurturing a family and therefore anything else is just simple for them.  I was a novice when I got into the business.  If we can learn the trick of the trade, I think it becomes easy, especially when we are committed to work hard.

Is this a man’s world? If it’s not can you provide some references?

Personally, I think it is a world where we have equal opportunities.  Women are capable of doing things better than most men.  But there is still a gender bias where we ourselves restrain our mind more that we are not capable of doing things that men are capable of doing.  Women are in the army, the air force, women have reached Mount Everest, and women are everywhere! Women are world leaders, and are simply capable of doing almost anything. This is my view.

Which woman business person has influenced you? How did they change the way you run your business? Have you met them in person?

I am always at awe when I see women entrepreneurs.  From small to big, every woman entrepreneur is a wonder.  My first was my mother, she was a retired principal and when my father retired, they moved to Hyderabad and she started selling sarees. She very soon added value with embroidery and prints on it.  It was a small business, but her commitment was simply awesome. 

Others are my friends in the Indian School of Business, entrepreneurs who juggle home and work extremely efficiently. Be it online businesses, garments, flowers, or restaurants, they do it so well.  These people are my role models, each one for a different reason!


What would be your one important tip/suggestion/ advise that you would like to give to an aspiring business woman?

Simply don’t let go! Just do it! You may have so many to discourage you but you should never give up!

What is the best and worst decisions you have ever made in your professional journey?

There are no best or worst decisions.  We learn each time, sometimes we make mistakes, but more often they are not very big that has affected anything too badly.
Best decision was to expand, and that opened up a lot of new opportunities.

Can you share two of your funny customer experiences?

One was when one of my customers insisted her room was full of water because water was dripping from the air-conditioner indoor unit even when the aircon was off.  This baffled me and finally after a lot of inspection, we realized it was a room below the water tank and water was dripping from the ceiling in one corner very minutely. It took an entire day to find and finally we managed to prove we were not responsible for the water leak.  The customer was a light hearted person and even told me that she was happy that my unit was generating water out of nothing and it could be a wonder!

Other than that we have had customers who have been rough in the beginning but once they see our work, they become customers for life.
  
What is the best part of being a woman business owner?

I’m truly proud.  For my boys I am like a mother taking care of them, they all stay in-house and it’s more like an extended family.  My time is never fixed, I can manage to take off from work if I want to, attend family get-togethers or my social functions.  My time is very flexible.  Being economically independent is a blessing. 

What makes you happy?

My work, my family everything makes me happy. 

Technocrat Engineers
Plot No. 29, II Street
Ganesh Nagar
GK Industrial Estate
Alapakkam
Chennai 600 116.
Ph: 044 4769490 Mobile:+919841827361 



All You Need to Know About Air Conditioners


What details would you want from a customer to give them a clear guidance?

We would primarily want the size of the room if there are any east facing windows, and if there is a floor or open terrace upstairs.  Based on the above parameters, one can decide the capacity of the air conditioner unit.    

Can the currently installed ductwork be used (if any)?

The duct can be used, provided it is not too old or damaged and if it is okay for the present installation set up. 

Are air conditioners efficiency rated? Can your customers expect a decrease in their utility bills?

Definitely. More the stars, better the rating. Between a 3 star which can be used in places where there is an 8 hr running, and a 5 star that can be used for more than that and in commercial cabins.There is a Saving of 20% on electricity consumption.

However, there are also inverter air conditioners which save power. Inverter air conditioners reduce the wear and tear of the motor and compressor which run continuously at variable speeds depending on the heat load in the room.  They save up to 40% electricity.  

Is there a correlation between the energy efficiency and the product price of a system?

Not necessarily, but a good system can be a little expensive.

What brands do you offer, and why do you prefer those brands?

We primarily sell Daikin. We are Sales and Service Channel partners of Daikin. The product is good in terms of energy efficiency and support from the Company is quite good.

What kind of support do you get from the Company?


Technical support at the site and also most importantly spares. It's a system driven company so procurement of spares is quite easy

What are the payment terms?  Does your company or the manufacturer offer to finance?

There are schemes, but we prefer down payment.

What kind of guarantee does your company make on the installation? What is the guarantee on the unit? Is a service contract included or available?

The unit has a warranty of one year on the system and additional four years on the compressor.  However mishandling or repairs that are undertaken by unauthorized persons makes the warranty claim null and void;  There is a service contract that includes (or excludes) spare parts. The customer has the option to choose whichever.

What is the timetable for the installation, from start to finish? Do you haul away the old unit (if any), and is that included in your fee? Is clean-up included and will the work area (ductwork, walls, flooring) be finished as they were before the work commenced?

Usually, a room air conditioner takes about 5 to 6 hours to install. The old unit will be hauled at a nominal charge. Cleaning of the floor will be done. About the walls, the customer will be informed to do the final coat of painting after the installation of the air conditioner. In occupied homes, we will ensure our staff use gloves to prevent dirtying of the working area of the wall.

Can the system be used for dual purpose such as cooling as well as heating

There are systems that can be used for heating and cooling.  But right now in Chennai, we have cooling systems.  We can get specialized cooling and heating systems too.  In very cold places in India, there are such systems that are being used.

When does a customer know it's time to replace the existing system?

The customer will know when the system is too old; he will also know if the system has been corroded and the coils damaged or if there is frequent gas leakage.
  
How does the air quality from the system affects the health of the users? How can it be prevented?

This is a very important aspect in an air conditioner.  The indoor air quality will be very poor if the system is not serviced regularly.  People get breathing problems and chest congestion if the air conditioner is not serviced because there can be fungal or bacteria formation in the filter because of the dampness.   We have a technique where we completely water wash both the indoor and outdoor units in a split air conditioner once every year during the AMC without bringing down the system.  This is a unique concept of ours and it has been received very well by our clients.

How often should a system be cleaned to maintain the efficiency?

Ideally, an air conditioner needs to be serviced once every three to four months.  It prevents damage of components and also, cooling is good and there is energy saving also.

Are there any tips and tricks that you would like to share with the readers?


Use your air conditioner regularly. Run it at least for about half an hour three times a week so that the motor does not get damaged.  Maintain it well to save energy and also to have good indoor air quality.

Switch off air conditioners not only with the remote but also the main power supply because this saves you a lot of energy. You save at least Rs.2000.00 a year when the stabilizer is switched off because the stabilizer also draws power. Most of us don't realize this fact.    

Are you willing to answer any questions on Air Conditioners from the readers?

Yes, of course, anytime!

Sukanya Sriram
Technocrat Engineers
Plot No. 29, II Street
Ganesh Nagar
GK Industrial Estate
Alapakkam
Chennai 600 116.
Ph: 044 4769490 Mobile:+919841827361