Financing your child’s overseas education through ESOPs

ESOPs are a priceless tool for attracting and retaining talent at start-ups and MNCs. Many of us working here get ESOPs in overseas companies. Since the Indian Rupee has depreciated against other currencies like the dollar over the years, overseas investments may be a good option to help reduce currency risk. And with strategic planning, parents can secure their child’s overseas educational dreams through ESOP benefits. The lumpsum that ESOPs provide, could be suitable to fund the large investments required.

If your company’s ESOPs are overseas, it would help to reduce the currency risk. A lumpsum gain from your domestic ESOPs could also help fund education.

Multiple factors must be considered while signing up for ESOPs. They may not be good for the risk-averse as they are linked to the volatile stock markets. They may also not suit someone looking for liquidity in the near term. Sure, stocks can be volatile. This is why it is important to time the sale of ESOPs. 

The decision to sell the shares acquired under ESOP is like any other investment decision. You need to take into account the capital gains implication as well as the need for liquidity for arriving at the decision. Moreover, whether and when to sell will also depend on the prospects of the company and how the stock is performing.

So, before you decide to liquidate the amount, take note of your three options:

When stocks are performing well.

Sell when the stock is performing well. If your child’s education is a few years away and the stock price of your company is already faring well, it is best you exit the plan and park it in debt options.  

When you expect a better performance in the future.

Alternatively, you may also choose a staggered exit at a few higher prices. But take note of your risk appetite if you decide to do so. Since stocks can be volatile, don’t keep these investments for the last minute.

When stocks are performing poorly.

If the company’s stocks have seen better days, you might as well take a loan to finance your child’s education. When your ESOPs begin to look up, you may exit and square off the loan.

ESOPs can be very successful when implemented in the right situation. They can be a good way to fund your child’s education. They allow their owners to create sustainable and transferable value and a well-prepared and successful exit. However, keep in mind that they can also be volatile. Take heed that you exit it in advance when the stock price is doing well and move it to non-market-linked options. That way you guarantee yourself good returns at an optimal time.

How to Select the Right Portfolio Management Service for You?

Portfolio Management Services, Portfolio Management, PMS advisory services, Portfolio Management Services in India

Portfolio Management Schemes (PMS) have done well, so you may be looking to invest in one of them.  Since the minimum investment into a PMS is Rs 50 Lakh, you may not be able to diversify as one does for Mutual Funds.  Further, most schemes also have an exit load up to 2-3 years.  Hence, choosing the right PMS becomes critical for you. A few points to consider:  

  • Establish clarity of purpose

There should be clarity and understanding of your risk appetite while choosing your service provider. i.e. Do you want the highest returns (which comes with higher volatility) or a consistent performer who manages risk well. You should accordingly shortlist the most suitable ones.

  • Vet the credentials of your PMS provider

Make sure that you have gone through all the required credentials of the provider like the past track record, transparency, and risk-adjusted returns; and draw out a comparison. Ultimately, there should be a consensus of minds before finalizing any deal and you shouldn’t be discriminating based on past performances alone.

  • Make informed decisions about the cost structure

You should be well-versed with the cost structure. It should be flexible enough to accommodate all your financial constraints and should allow you to choose between fixed and variable fee options. Annual fund management charges normally apply both for fixed and variable fee structures.  Variable fees are normally computed as a percentage of the profits generated above a threshold but would have a lower fixed fee component. Make sure that your manager briefs you about the expense structure apart from the fund management fees.

  • Choose a fund that aligns with your goals

Whether it is a large or multi or small cap fund, choose a fund based upon your risk-taking capacity. You may also choose your strategy based on the market environment as it keeps oscillating between large and midcap funds.  One way to take a mid path through a multi-cap fund.  It’s important to see what you are capable of and align your investments accordingly.

  • Allocate your funds suitably

While the PMS requires you to invest in lumpsum, many PMS houses have created a systematic transfer approach into the equity fund. They take your money into a debt fund and allocate it in a phased manner based on your instruction.  This protects you from the risk of buying equity at its peak value and a down-cycle may impact you adversely.

Things to watch out for

First, going after the highest returns could also mean higher risk. Ask yourself if you have the risk appetite to bear higher losses. In any case, you can mitigate risks through systematic transfer mechanisms.

Secondly, pay attention to your portfolio size. Considering the minimum investment is Rs 50 lakhs, track what percentage of your investment is going into this scheme. Some portfolio managers may allow mutual fund strategies to lower the risk for you.

Remember, diversification complements your safety margin with a value-driven approach. It also helps smooth out the effects of changes in stock price momentum and other market risks. If it’s too complex, get a professional to help you there.