I typically don’t write much on personal finance. The key reason is that it does not hold much interest for me and does not challenge me. After you have spent 1-2 years reading on investing, evaluating a scheme is quick and easy. In addition, there are a lot of other blogs and magazines which do a better job of explaining personal finance for the lay investor.

Let me a list a few criteria I use to arrive at a decision on any personal finance instrument
–        What has been the performance of the instrument in the past? If this is a new instrument of scheme avoid
–        Has the instrument or scheme out performed a benchmark? If it is related to equity, has it outperformed the index for the last 3-5 years. If not, avoid
–        What are the costs involved ? what is the expense ratio, sales load, exit loads etc. The total of all costs should not exceed 2% (typical of most open ended mututal funds which in itself is too high). If the expenses per annum exceed 2%, avoid
–        What is the lock in period ? I typically avoid products with lockin periods. Product with high lockin periods do not necessarily perform better than open ended product. They just tie your money up and you can lose flexibility if the performance is poor
–        What is the kind paperwork involved ? can I do it online ? I personally hate paperwork and have no interest in running to the bank to fill up forms and fill up paperwork every year.

I finally don’t care what is pedigree of the fund house or whether the fund or instrument is from a reputed bank or AMC. In addition I don’t care if the name sounds good or the sales person is a cute looking girl. I will open up my wallet only if the instrument meets my criterias listed above.

Finally you can see this post where I have listed how I select equity based funds. As you can see, it is not complicated to decide on a personal finance instrument. Most of the times, I don’t bother to look for one and tend to buy mutual funds, stocks or ETFs online directly.

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