Long long ago….really long long ago a friend had got an appointment to meet the legendary lawyer Mr. Nani Palkhivala. He had a written note..and he said “I am meeting Mr. P tomorrow at 11am”. I was surprised – because knew that at 11am the big man would be in the court. I asked to see the letter…it was 11pm.

Why am I bringing that up now?

Simply to bring to fore how lawyers charge. You could have a conversation with them, a conference with them or even lunch. One person I know got the seat next to Mr. Palkhivala on the flight from Mumbai to Delhi…a 150 minute flight in those days.

It did not matter – you always paid the bill. Both these persons whom we are talking about are now dead…but I am sure that many people reading this post must have paid such bills. I have paid for lunch, tele-conversations, conferences….of course on behalf of a few (handful) of corporate clients…

However, when it comes to charging fees, there are instances when I should have sent clients for the following:

1. One client with a net worth of about Rs. 2 crores (including the living house) was approached by Citibank to invest in a Venture Fund…The ticket size? Rs. 50 lakhs.

I almost choked when he asked that question. The investors who should be investing in Venture funds, Real Estate Venture funds, etc. should have a net worth of about Rs. 15 crores  and should be able to write off Rs. 50Lakhs in a worst case scenario. I still do not know whether he appreciates the quality of advice.

I think I should have said “I have considered your question, and I think you should not invest this amount”. My bill for this is Rs. 100,000 – which is 2% of the amount that I have saved for you. I DID NOT DO THAT.

2. A client who was being sold a Pension Plan: He had about Rs. 20L lying in the savings account. His Relationship Manager smiled, cajoled, coaxed him into buying a Rs. 9 Lakhs per annum pension plan. He paid the premium and then asked me. I said “You already have a single premium pension plan…the reason why I have asked you NOT TO TOP THAT UP is because it is a very inefficient product from tax point of view…HOWEVER if you were hell bent on investing in a Pension Plan…you could have topped that…that would have been more tax efficient….well well the damage was done. Over.

My advice was not even sought – though this man tells everybody he listens to me. God bless both of us.

3. Subra I know LIC endowment plans are not good…but my uncle wants me to invest in a Jeevan Shree..what should I do?

Stupid question, you know the answer..So my answer is “NO” and here is my bill for Rs. 100,000 – being 2% of the premium saved over a 10 year period…


Hmm…how many advisers have been able to BILL FOR negative advice? Interesting answers please!!

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  1. I would end up declaring bankruptcy just accounting the neg. Advice from your books and site even at 1% cover charge.

  2. as per OED desi edition 1815,

    advice: (n) sthg given or taken for free.

    therapy : (n) advice given or taken for payment; usually on a per hour or on consultation basis

    It is not a big surprise that “advisers” are not getting paid for dispensing financial “advice” bcos junta know their english 😛

    Stop cribbing, change your names to financial therapists.

  3. A person whom I advised against continuing in a budding ponzi scheme was very upset with my words. But after many years he mentions my caution in a public event and thanks me for saving him a few lakhs. Negative advice only fetches you a disgust upfront, not a fee LoL

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