If I was a marketing person in any routine company, I would probably get sacked for what I'm going to say now: you may not actually need the new Value Research Premium service that we are about to launch.
However, since this is Value Research and I'm only answerable to you, our customers, I have no problem saying what I genuinely believe. Yes, Value Research Premium is about to be launched, but it's not suitable for everyone. However, for thoughtful and involved savers who have made mutual funds their investment of choice, the capabilities that Value Research Premium offer will be invaluable.
Let's understand the story from the beginning. It has now been 20 years since we launched Value Research Online. From day one, it has been the number one website for anyone who is looking for information, data, analysis and tools for investing in Indian mutual funds. Along the way, we have added deep capabilities for equity investments too and then gradually for the National Payment System, fixed-income deposits and insurance.
Over the years, we have continuously added new features and new types of content. However, we have been somewhat handicapped by the fact that we continued to use the original late 1990s era technology platform that we had started the website with. My preference has always been to add new features that were directly and immediately useful to our customers rather than expend resources on just tinkering with newer technologies for their own sake.
About four years ago, after having carefully reviewed the direction that investing and personal finance in India was taking as well as projecting technology parameters, I decided that we should build a series of new products as well as completely renew the technology foundations of our existing products. The first result of this new push that was delivered to you was Value Research Stock Advisor and the second was the completely revamped Value Research Online.
Most importantly, our new technology platforms were extensible far into the future, both in terms of the capabilities as well as scaling. Of course, we had teething troubles and things took longer than we had hoped for. As the old joke goes, the first 90 per cent of a project takes 90 per cent of the time and the remaining 10 per cent takes another 90 per cent of the time.
The new Value Research Online is not just about a more modern technology stack and a new, much more usable look and feel, it delivers a whole host of new capabilities to our members.
Are you premium?
However, that's just the first step. For many years now, I have observed that for a certain proportion of our members, the core set of capabilities are not enough.
You are one of these members who want more, if:
- You want to make sure that your life's financial goals are achieved
- You want to make sure that your mutual fund investments will ensure that these goals are achieved, and
- You do not have the time to do all the background work yourself
If all this is true for you, then you should become a member of Value Research Premium. We have a big list of features and tools that we have created for Value Research Premium, but those are just the road we have built for you: the destination of this road is the attainment of your life's financial goals.
And how are we going to do that? It's a process that has four parts to it:
1. Provide a way for you to articulate your goals clearly.
2. Suggest a set of investments and a pattern of investments for those goals.
3. Verify that your existing investments fit the goals and suggest changes if they do not.
4. Continuously monitor your investments to make sure they are heading for your goals, suggest changes if any are required.
I'll guide you to a detailed list of the features that we have integrated into Premium, which are there on the website, but here's an overview of those which directly work towards meeting your financial goals:
These are custom portfolios that are suggested to you as part of your Premium membership. The algorithm that we have evolved takes into account your goals, income, saving capacity and a number of other factors.
Only a few members are starting their investing from scratch. For most of you, a big question is whether your existing investments fit into your goals. This is often a hard question to answer because there are a lot of implications of switching old investments, not the least of which is taxation. In the Premium system, you can get an evaluation and a suggested fix-list based on our expert teams' inputs.
Investors often want to choose their own funds for some particular investment purpose. There are about 1,800 available to you and even with the help of our rating system, it's a lot of work to zoom in to the right set. However, that won't be a problem for you because as a Premium member, you will have access to Analyst's Choice. Instead of the 36 official types of funds, we have created eight investor-oriented categories which match precisely with actual financial goals that you have. In each of these, my team and I have carefully selected a handful of funds that will serve you with the best outcomes.
A lot more...
Of course, those are just headline features. There are a lot more that will help you keep track of your investments, returns, diversification, taxation and practically everything else that will help you achieve your financial goals. Take a look here for the full details.
What if you aren't premium?
So why did I say upfront that you may not need Value Research Premium? That's because the most valuable aspect of what we have for you at Value Research is not any specific feature or tool. Instead, it is the idea of what investment is, why it must be done and how you must go about doing it. Even more importantly, we tell you what it is not. The public discourse of investing is dominated by two opposite extremes. One is of just storing money in bank deposits and thus wasting it away. The other is punting, which is characterised by the mindshare that something like Zerodha gets. Somewhere in between are crores of people who hardly save at all.
When you come to Value Research, the most valuable things you will find are the ideas and the education that saves you from these self-destructive attitudes and guides you to what real investing is. That is definitely not going to be a part of our Premium service.
Oh, and one more thing...
Up until now, our website has been completely free. Value Research Premium is a paid service. I expect that some people will not like this as the general expectation on the web is that stuff should be free. Instead of avoiding the issue, it's better that I discuss it upfront.
Value Research Online has been free for over 20 years because unlike many new generation VC-funded companies, we have many other businesses and in all of them, customers (individuals or businesses) pay for what they get. All these other lines of business subsidise Value Research Online. The free parts of Value Research Online will remain free. However, Premium requires a lot more inputs, both in terms of facilities and people, so we must ask you to pay a modest membership fee.
I hope you won't mind paying because you see nothing is ever genuinely free. The new businesses which keep everything free either go under sooner or later or sell your data and privacy to try and make something, often both.
Value Research has been an independent and stable business for decades now simply because we ask customers to pay a reasonable price for our products. We hope to continue doing so for decades more.