Shweta Jain | Age 40 | CEO and Founder, Investography
Assets Under Advice Rs 65 crore
Practising Since 2003
When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is.”—Oscar Wilde
Shweta Jain, 40, founder of Investography, a financial planning firm, swears by that quote from her favourite author. But she says she would rather replace the word “important” with “empowering” based on her experiences with money through her life.
Unlike most children growing up in the early 1990s, Jain was familiar with the stock market. Back then, when only a handful of people knew who a stock market broker was and what did he or she do, Jain’s father worked as a sub-broker.
“He used to go to the stock exchange, and I found that very exciting. At the age of 10, I knew how to fill up initial public offer (IPO) forms. That is where my journey started,” she says.
An Early Lesson
At that time, however, not all brokers knew or followed the basic rules of investing, such as diversification of risk. As a result, Jain’s early life resembled the peak and trough that the stock market, typically, goes through.
At one point, her father made a huge amount of money, so much so that the family moved from a rented house to their own and built and maintained other assets, such as a car, more properties, and so on.
But the family fell on hard times later. “My father gained big from a few stocks, but he did not diversify his risks. So, he saw it all go and we fell on bad times. At one point, I saw our car being taken away because my father had to sell it off. I told myself then that this should never happen to anyone,” she says.
It was an important financial lesson she learnt that has stayed with her ever since. “People become successful and see failures. But that is a part and parcel of life. If someone told my father that he should diversify and invest in other asset classes, like buying mutual funds (which had started then) or buying land, and not invest in just a few stocks, things may have been different,” she says.
Jain, who has authored a book called My Conversations With Money, has helped hundreds of families take control of their finances. Of course, the importance of diversification finds a place in her book as well as her sessions.
Strength To Strength
The financial setback led her into seeking a job to support her family at the earliest. In a way, that put her on a course she had always aspired to take.
Significantly, Jain is the first woman in her family to go to college and take up a job. “I didn’t just take up a job because of the financial condition of my family. My parents always supported and encouraged me to follow my passion,” says Jain.
After finishing the course, she had two choices in front of her—to join a start-up being floated by her lecturer, Lovaii Navlakhi, who is also a Sebi-registered financial advisor and the managing director and CEO of International Money Matters, or to join an established corporate house which was paying three times the salary the start-up would have paid at the time.
Though, financially, it would have made sense to take up the job that paid more, Jain decided to listen to her heart and follow her passion by joining the start-up. That turned out to be one of the best decisions of her life.
Jain worked at Navlakhi’s firm for 15 years before starting off on her own.
She admits to having her own fair share of naysayers in her journey as a woman professional. It affected her so much that even when she ran the entire show, she would hate to take the credit because she felt that her work would be less appreciated if her name was attached to it. But once she started the business, she felt more confident about staking and claiming her own rightful credit. Now she believes that whatever happens, happens for the best.
According to her, money empowers and enables people to do what they want to do. Jain has seen people lose their assets because they could not pay their credit card bills.
“Helping a person avoid such a situation or helping a person achieve their dreams is what drives me. It is about helping people make the right decisions with money when it comes to their life, because it always has to be in their context,” she says.
As for her own life, Jain always dreamed that she would start a business one day, lead her life in a certain way, and have a family. Talking about all that, she turns a tad philosophical and likens her life to a journey.
“One should strive to change the everyday mundane life into something exciting—it could be simply by having a cup of coffee, by spending time with children, or even spending time with yourself,” she says.
Jain has worked systematically against what she believes stops women from achieving their dreams and fulfilling their goals. She feels that one of the biggest challenges women face when it comes to financial planning is self-doubt and the belief that money matters are better left to someone else.
“In the olden days, women had to take care of the house, and the family, and maintain social relationships. Now they need to manage their careers as well. With so many things to handle, money often takes a backseat,” she says.
Jain feels that the younger women of today’s generation are much more confident, unapologetic, and accepting of themselves and their limitations, as well. She, too, counts herself as being one among them.
Being unapologetic about oneself is something that she learnt from Oscar Wilde, one of the first authors she fell in love with. And it is this quality among several others that has helped her along her life’s journey and shine in a profession that has been and is even now essentially considered a male bastion.