Interview of Pranjal Kamra
Pranjal Kamra graduated from HNLU in 2015 and then completed his post-graduation from NISM in 2017. He is the founder of Finology which offers legal services, online courses and financial tools.
When and Why did you decide to attend law school?
Actually I was consistently bad in studies during my school life. I was a parent’s nightmare, I wasn’t creative, I had no special skills or hobbies and was extremely shy & timid till middle school.
One day my Hindi teacher told me to read a paragraph from the textbook and as soon as I started, she told me to sit because I was apparently inaudible. Usually, I didn’t mind such instances because I was used to them but something pinched me that day.
I decided that from that moment onwards I will make sure that I speak loudly. So I started practising for hours in front of the mirror and in a year, my speaking ability changed drastically. Also, I started reading more and my IQ improved (only slightly).
Then, I started participating in a lot of debates and quizzes. But I was still not good in academics. So, my parents thought that since I was good at speaking, I should choose to become a lawyer. Hence, they told me to prepare for CLAT and since I was anyway clueless, I prepared for it basically to keep my parents calm. I cleared CLAT and law school happened.
How was your law school journey?
Well, I was ranked 131 in a batch of 145, so that tells you a lot. Basically, on the first day of law school when orientation happened, I realized that being a lawyer is not just about speaking dramatically, it involves more of research. So, on my first day at law school, it was clear that I will never be a lawyer.
Couldn’t say that to my parents though, as they would have been distraught. But I was least interested in studies so, in my second year, I sacrificed my entire semester to participate in India Against Corruption Movement, and became one of the core members in the Chhattisgarh wing of the movement.
As an 18-year-old, it was a wonderful experience to not just witness but also be amongst the key decision-makers in Chhattisgarh regarding the outreach campaigns and mobilisation. So, I saw politics, power dynamics and such things from a very close quarter. Other than that, I continued to struggle and in my last semester, I had to clear more than 25 papers to get my degree!
What were the activities and internships you pursued in law school?
I usually avoided parties and social events because I thought everyone was judging me for my lack of seriousness and they viewed me as a nuisance due to my social activities. The only thing that I enjoyed was the parliamentary debates.
I did more than 15 of them, won a few and more importantly, the who’s who of the college wanted to team up with me for debates. So that gave me validation. Honestly, I did just one internship in Delhi and semester breaks were more of relief for me and I craved spending them with my family.
4. When did finance as a subject become your interest?
I was in my third year of graduation when I saw my father watching a program related to the stock market on TV. Usually, such shows are very boring and you hardly understand anything but, that particular show was different.
The expert dressed as a don and he answered caller’s queries regarding which stocks to buy or sell in a very dramatic way by destroying telephones and punching on the walls if the stock was bad. So, that drama made me watch it for a few days and then I casually asked my father for money to invest.
He gave me Rs. 20,000 on the condition that I if I lose it, I would have to focus entirely on my Legal Studies. That very year my father had gifted me my first scooter, which was a TVS wego and I was totally in love with it. So due to this emotional attachment, I invested in TVS motors and beginner’s luck worked in my favour, in almost a year, the stock grew 10 times and the 4 thousand I had invested was now worth 40 thousand. I became overconfident and all the other stocks I bought failed miserably.
I was now in my fourth year and I was determined to learn about investing so that I can compound my investment and moreover my father took my hobby seriously. So I started reading a lot about Warren Buffett, I was reading about him day in and day out, and then I came to know about NISM (A dedicated educational institute on Stock Markets, ran by SEBI).
The NISM entrance exam was on the same day as the CLAT/LLM exam. My family strictly wanted to me to appear for LLM. So, I lied to them that since the Raipur test centre was full, my CLAT centre is now Mumbai. I went to Mumbai and gave the NISM entrance exam and interview. And, the interviewers told me that this was the best interview they had ever seen. So, that was a huge motivation and I convinced my family.
Tell us about your venture “Finology”.
While in NISM, my room-mate was an experienced finance guy and he told me about the rampant mis-selling and biased advice prevalent in the financial & insurance market. He told me sad stories of how lives were destroyed due to vested interests.
So, I decided to do something about it. It pinched me very hard and I was determined that I will start my own venture wherein all advice will be research-backed and unbiased. But, I had no money and I couldn’t ask my father so I basically started Finology as an expanded blog, I learned a bit of coding and designed the website, I started making YouTube videos from June 2017 and for the first 6 months, no one was watching me.
I made more than 60 videos to no response. But, I kept learning SEO (Search Engine Optimization), graphic designing and my personal investments were doing well. So, I was learning various arts constantly and thereby each video was better than the previous one.
Finally, my 61st video went viral and it has been a good going since then. Now we aim to assist everyone who wants to explore the Stock Market by addressing right at touchpoints of investors irrespective of whatever phase of investment they are at. We aim to do it through: Education – There are YouTube videos on financial education and also a plethora of free & premium courses in the ‘Learn’ section of our website.
This is basically for naive investors who haven’t got their hands dirty and wish to learn about investing. Research Tools and Products – Those who already know a bit about investing but are looking to research on their own or are confused while making investment decisions, we’ve got them covered through our products and research tools which are there in the ‘Invest’ section of our website.
Advisory – We are Chhattisgarh’s 1st and only SEBI registered Investment Advisory and, we also provide legal and tax services. Through our robust R&D team and customer support, we provide absolutely fair and unbiased investment and financial advice.
What role did your post-graduation from NISM play in establishing Finology?
Honestly, NISM was a life changer. Professors there were quite brilliant and extremely dedicated. Also, since I was already studying a lot about the markets, I felt at home with the curriculum and I often excelled amongst my peers.
So, NISM gave me the confidence that I belong here and finance is my future. Basically, it was a fantasy land wherein I could read all through the day and night about the stock market and I was not ridiculed but encouraged for
doing it. I was loved by my teachers and this was a feeling I had never experienced before.
Why did you feel there is a need for a platform which has a synergy of investment as well as legal solutions?
This is an affair that I’m proud of. Since I was quite particular about curbing investment-related fraud and doing my bit to stop illegal activities going on in the name of investment advice, it was at the back of my mind to provide financial and legal services at the same platform.
Co-incidentally, Priya (the Co-Founder of Finology) also had a legal background and she not only readily approved the idea of a common platform but also led its way to execution. Luckily, this also suited well to some of our clients as they were demanding tax filing and other legal services simultaneously with the financial services.
I can also say that since this was a market-driven approach, it is faring well.
What does your average client look like? Who is more interested in investing, young graduates or those who have settled in their profession?
An average client of Finology is anyone who wishes to save or invest money. Since we wish to help a larger audience with our fair and unbiased advice, we keep it this way. About the interest in investing, our priorities change as we age.
Young graduates are more enthusiastic towards achieving their dreams and they are even ready to take risks for that. On the other hand, settled professionals who usually age between 50-60 look for security and are more inclined towards saving. So, investing styles would differ with age but the interest is subjective.
In your opinion, what is the right time and age to start investing?
There’s a very simple answer to this question. There’s a living legend in the world of investing named Mr. Warren Buffett. He is great not just because of the fact that he has acquired humongous wealth, he’s great because of his investment journey. He started investing when he was just 11-years-old.
And, now he’s 89. So, if you start at a young age, you keep evolving and you live long to reap the fruits of your investment efforts, you’ve made it in life! So, the perfect age and time to invest is NOW !
Is there a standard to calculate the part of income one should invest?
There’s a two-step process that we ask our clients and everyone else to follow while investing. First, you need to make sure that you save 25% of your salary/income. In the second step, you need to follow an ‘Asset Allocation’ rule.
It’s quite simple – you just need to subtract your age out of 100 and the result which you get should be treated as a percentage, and that percentage of your savings should be invested in equity.
Tell us about the online courses that Finology offers and who can take these courses?
Basically there are two types of courses that Finology offers- Financial and Legal. In all (free and paid courses combined) there are 4 financial courses relating to Value Investing, Mutual funds etc., and there are 10 legal courses relating to constitution, jurisprudence, current affairs and more.
Click here to see the online courses offered by Finology.
About who can take these courses, since we believe in eliminating boundaries in learning, there is no eligibility criteria as such. Anyone who wishes to learn is welcome to take these courses.
Since mutual funds are subject to market risks, What are the basic do’s and dont’s you prescribe the newbie investors?
I have always believed that it’s more important to know what not to do. If you avoid certain disastrous things in life, good things will naturally happen to you, and it’s the same in investing.
If you resist the temptation to be rich overnight and do not indulge in gambling activities like investing in penny stocks, sector funds, Intraday call, F&O, Currency & commodity derivatives etc. almost everything else will yield good results.
Also, banks are commission-based distributors of financial assets, so avoid all investment products “Advised” by banks; they are literally bad for you.
What are the legal services that Finology offers? How is using Finology for legal issues better than approaching the neighbourhood lawyer?
Finology offers all legal services that are useful for startups and businesses. So, when a startup is coming up it needs registration, incorporation etc. When it starts and stays in the market for some time it requires compliance, tax filing etc.
So, these services basically cover all necessary aspects of a business’s lifecycle. Also, we’ve incorporated artificial intelligence in our drafting (agreement) service which makes it very easy to use. Regarding comparison with a
neighbourhood lawyer, it’s simple, with Finology Legal, we have reduced paperwork by making processes digital which brings down the cost for the client, saves time and it’s absolutely safe & secure.
Also, the prices are transparent and you get a dedicated Customer Support team to assist you should the need arise.
What is your advice to law students and young graduates on investing, insuring and financials?
India will witness extraordinary growth in terms of wealth creation due to shift of demand and services from unorganized to organized sector and, thereby investments in financial investments will lead to huge wealth creation in the next decade and will also lead to numerous job opportunities for lawyers in insurance and compliance domains.
So, as a lawyer, you are set to benefit from the financial sector both professionally and personally.
Parting message to our readers.
As law students, don’t view law schools as placement agencies. Law schools are a great place to build a network, learning new skills, and discovering your passion. I see students discussing placements and CTCs from the 1st semester to the last. That is not how you should be living the most important years of your life.
Personally, for me, Tanuj Kalia Sir was a huge inspiration as he took the path of becoming an entrepreneur after law school and with the upcoming boom in legal-tech startups, entrepreneurship is something which the law students should start considering as a brilliant opportunity.
Click to read more career interviews.