In Los Angeles – and must be true in most cities of the world – the taxi service is either dying or dead. Uber rolled out in 2012 – and the taxi business is down by 75% since then (these are 2019 figures) and it looks like it is going south.

Remember that in India Uber (and Ola) fares are lesser than the ‘kaali-peeli’ taxi, but the gap is not too much. It was much higher in the USA, and hence the demise is perhaps coming faster.

Look at how the taxi business was run. There were 9 taxi companies which employed drivers – on a salary and commission. A person wanting a ride had to call a company which would then allocate a driver to you. OBVIOUSLY it make the whole process expensive. Now the taxi companies are getting together and creating an app – and the app I guess will perform the same way as Uber or Lyft. Technology, attitude, everything has to change – to just survive.

In Mumbai too for putting up a kaali peeli taxi you need to pay the state government money and buy a “badge”. In LA they called it “medallion”. No, the state government does not add any damn value – kyc, training, re-training – nothing, just a fee. Like how only a government organisation can do.

Now you have Ola and Uber – about 1.8 million drivers are associated with them – I am assuming that there could be some double counting, but still it is a great job creator! The government knows that both these companies pay a ton of Service tax. Most of us do not claim the credit of this ST. Also almost every driver will have to pay Income tax – you leave a long trail of money anyway. So it is a great win win even for the government.

Now come to Financial advice – you will pay for it in some way. Either you will pay an embedded commission, or a fee or you will find somebody charging you for “teaching”. All are clearly different ways of paying for knowledge. Nothing comes free. Of course each model justifies that theirs is the best, and there is no conflict of interest. Bull. As long as I know that there is a commercial interest most of us know how to take care of that conflict. The medicine that you buy has some embedded costs – just think hard. When you come to a “free” website, you will see Google ads. Sure, I can charge you a fee and make it ad free. However, there is a cost, and it has to be paid.

So if you are an IFA, I do think you are doing a great job. However, no IFA association runs a “Advisor Zaroori hai” kind of a campaign. Most people do not know what an IFA should do. This week I was in Jalgaon and I saw an IFA who used “making a will” as a strategy. Of course it makes sense. Many “investment advisers” will not think it is their job. THEY ARE CORRECT – they are investment advisers, not personal finance advisers. Not sure that many people understand the difference. I have met absolutely stupid people who know a part of the whole personal finance process, but can pass of as a guru of personal finance. Remember it is still cowboy country as far as personal finance is concerned. Anybody can call himself/herself as an expert.

Remember it is in the Bhagwad Geeta – “kalyug is when a guy who can speak well is called an expert”. Frankly it is just a great communication tool.

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