5-hour Customized Process. Not the 2-hour Robo++ Process

  • The 2-hour Robo++ Process is the prevalent model in India
    • The 2-hour Robo++ Process (with new clients) provides almost the same plan to all clients, just like a Robo-Adviser does. This requires less than 1 hour of effort. Since the Robo++ plan is almost the same for all clients, often the RIA delegates the preparation of the plan to a junior employee or automates the preparation of the plan
    • Additionally the Robo++ Process provides the client with around 1 hour of interaction with the (primary) RIA to clarify some aspects which are unclear 
    • The Robo++ Process typically requires the RIA to put in a total of 2 hours of effort with new clients
  • I follow an 5 hour Customized Process with each client
    • The Customized Process involves 2.25 hours of discussion and 2.75 hours of back-end work to go into sufficient detail with each client:
      • To identify at least one important issue that the client had not realized (e.g. that the client was taking too much investment risk) or address at least one critical question that the client has in mind (e.g. should the client retire now or later)
      • To explain the recommendation and reasoning in detail so that the client understands it and is hopefully convinced by it
      • To educate the client about critical aspects of financial planning and investing e.g. how do you calculate how much you have to save for retirement; asset allocation between equity / real estate vs. safe assets
    • I co-created the Customized Process in India along with one other Hourly-Fee RIA 
      • The 5hour Customized Process is similar to the approach of best Hourly-Fee RIA in the US, where financial planning is far more evolved
      • Note: This earlier used to be an engagement with even more hours of engagement. However, as explained on the Fees page, SEBI regulations indirectly limit the number of hours of effort in the engagement. Hence to make the engagement fit within the number of hours of effort that is allowed by regulations, I have recorded some generic aspects of the engagement as audio presentations. Clients watch those audio presentations before the call so that the client and I can focus on client specific aspects during the calls
    • The Customized Process in India typically requires the RIA to put in 6+ hours of effort (including discussions and back-end work) with new clients
      • The second half of this article provides an illustration of one part of the Customized Process in one particular situation
      • And this article in MoneyControl provides a bigger-picture illustration of the Customized Process
      • My process, with new clients, involves 3 hours of discussion (3 calls, each of 45 minutes, spread over 1- 2 months).  Clients have to put in an additional 4 hours of effort apart from the discussions. Hence if it is not possible for you to dedicate that much of time, then this approach is not a good fit for you

Risk-averse Approach


  • I advise clients and occasionally, where critical, I try and convince a client
  • Clients take the final decision about whether or not to partially / completely accept each recommendation


  • Clients are responsible for implementing the Financial Plan. Typically, this is done online
  • I try to guide the client through the implementation of the Financial Plan, but I do not have any direct or indirect control over the client's investments

Logistics of the Process

  • Clients interact only with me and I do all the client work
    • There are (deliberately) no team members
    • So life-or-death recommendations about the client's future are not being made by a 23 year-old (unlike some RIA firms that have a large team of junior employees that provide such recommendations to clients) 
  • With both existing clients as well as potential clients:
    • The primary mode of discussion is over pre-scheduled audio-calls 
    • I do not do face-to-face meetings  / video-calls with anyone 
      • Distributors and RIAs the charge a Percentage of Assets Under Advice like to meet face-to-face because they have to hard-sell to convince clients to pay their ridiculously high fees and it is easier to do that face-to-face
      • There are various pros and cons of Audio vs. Video calls...
      • ...Video calls help the client to build confidence in the RIA
      • ...Audio calls help to focus the discussion on the numbers (without the distraction of being forced to keep looking at the other person and looking away from the numbers). There also also other important advantages of Audio calls
    • I do not do calls when the (potential) client is in a noisy environment and / or traveling by road
    • If there is a single person on the call from the client's side, then the client should use a headset (i.e. not speakerphone) during the call 
  • With existing clients:
    • Pre-scheduled audio-calls are typically, from Monday to Saturday, 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 7pm
    • The only mode for formal investment advice is over email i.e. all other modes of discussion are only informal discussions (Note: This is due to SEBI regulations)
    • The client should be able to access a laptop / computer during every audio call
  • With potential clients:
    • Pre-scheduled audio-call are typically, from Monday to Friday, 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 7pm
    • I do not provide any investment advice during this introductory audio call

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