Tuesday, September 23, 2008

ULIPS vs Mutual funds

Insurance is NOT an investment. ULIPs are definitely NO-NO.
because ULIPs are being mis-sold (mis-sold being a polite way of saying con job) like no financial product has ever been mis-sold in this country. In India, ULIPs are a product which have been cynically designed to maximise profits to insurance agents and insurance companies while hiding the true numbers from investors. Nominally, a ULIP is a product that combines insurance and investment characteristics. In reality, they combine an extraordinarily high cost structure (meant primarily to feed agent commissions) with a non-standardised revelation of expense so that any meaningful comparison of investment performance between different ULIPs or between ULIPs and mutual funds is impossible. In other investment products, either there are no agent commissions (as in bank FDs) or agent commissions range from 0.25 per cent to 2 or 3 per cent (as in case of Mutual Fund Advisors). In ULIPs however, commissions range from 15 per cent to (hold your breath) around 70 per cent and are typically 25 per cent. And for some bizarre reason, this is considered acceptable by everyone concerned

Basically, ULIPs are expensive and opaque mutual funds disguised as insurance. This permits insurance companies to circumvent the strict transparency, expense, and commission-related laws that govern mutual funds. It also enables them to escape the scrutiny of SEBI, which has historically been a tougher regulator than IRDA.
Insurance is a great idea and most of us need it. But we need real insurance, which is to say term insurance. Here's what you should do. Make a liberal estimate of how much money your family will need if you die suddenly. Shop around and buy the cheapest term insurance you can find. You'll be stunned at how cheap term insurance is and also at how difficult it is to buy (The quickest way to get rid of an insurance agent is to say that you're interested only in term insurance). You probably won't be able to think logically about insurance as long as you don't realise that it's an expense. It's a necessary expense, like buying a helmet or going to a doctor, but it's not an investment. You need both insurance and investment. To get the best deal in both, don't mix them up.
Best of luck,
Srikanth Shankar Matrubai

No comments: