I remember that Dipali was our first OCI client & definitely that day in 2011 – I would have google “QROPS or UK Pension”. I have learned a lot from working with her – professionally & personally.
I asked her few questions about her personal & financial life as an OCI….
What does Financial Freedom mean to you?
Working because I want to, not because I have to.
Do you get any special benefit of being an OCI?
Financially, not really.
However, I have relocated to India and then back to the UK in the last 6 years and the ease with which I was able to do this is due to the OCI card. So knowing there is no barrier to movement, investing (unless you are planning to go into agriculture) or living in India is a huge relief.
In my heart, I feel I am still an Indian, irrespective of my passport and this is because I identify with my country of birth as much as I do with where I reside
As you have shifted your base few times in the past – how different is working in India in comparison to the UK?
There are huge differences – probably less so than there used to be. My primary reason for wanting to stay in the UK when I first came here was the work-life balance.
In India, we had a live-in maid, which is a luxury you can only dream of in the UK. However, I worked all hours and also on weekends. So my daughter was being brought up by an illiterate lady and that was definitely not alright with me.
The ability to work flexibly was not a right by law at the time, but most companies were willing to extend that facility so long as it was not abused.
Another example of this is that if there is a need to work longer hours or weekends, it is not a given that your boss will expect you to give up your plans to do so. Your personal time is precious and though working long hours and during holidays is inevitable at some point, it is appreciated and that appreciation is shown.
In India, more often than not, this is something an employer/manager takes for granted, possibly because he/she was the victim of the same attitude at some time.
Though this was the primary reason, there were other important ones.
One was the respect and value for the individual irrespective of their position in the organisations hierarchy. A simple example – you are in the lift with a senior executive, say the COO. You are at least 3 -4 levels below him so the chances that he knows you by name are slim. Say the topic is the match over the weekend – how comfortable would you be in criticising the COO’s teams play?
Strange question? Not really when you consider I have witnessed people being uncomfortable to express a difference of opinion on a non-work related subject with their boss. I don’t feel that I have to be in office before my boss reaches or stay till he leaves. As long as I have done my work and am responsible about it, I have no barriers to working my hours.
Having said this, one does tend to form more personal connections in India. Some of my best friendships have been formed in the work-place. We tend to know about each other’s families and trials and also help where we can. We eat together and celebrate festivals irrespective of our religions. This is something I miss sorely when I am out of India.
Financial Freedom is “Working because I want to, not because I have to.”
Net Worth is the very important number for us as that actually becomes base of financial freedom. I remember last time when we discussed your plan – you were bit surprised by seeing that your net worth went 7 times in last 7 years. What went through your mind?
That is probably due to my not tracking my portfolio as well as I should have and also getting used to near 0 inflation and hence rates in the UK. I was genuinely taken aback and elated that the investments had grown so well.
Considering the near-0 position we started from, it’s commendable how far we have reached on this journey – or rather I should say that how far you have brought me 🙂
Ultimately, a huge sense of relief in feeling more secure financially and for the future.
Recently you finalized that your daughter will join a college in Europe. Is there any benefit that you got due to your UK citizenship? What other things that you considered before taking this decision?
Our primary driver was the location where she wanted to work so that she would benefit from job placement.
In the UK, you need to be resident in the country for 3 years in order to qualify as a local student. So we were at a disadvantage on this count since she is not eligible for scholarships, etc.
Apart from the work location, we considered college status, course, etc. – all the things that anyone would while making this decision.
Finally, I would like to ask, the best financial advice that you ever got & that can help other NRIs.
Fix a monthly amount to save/invest and spend on frivolities from the balance. Always be clear on whether you need something or want it.
I would like to thank Dipali for taking out time & sharing her views. Hope Dipali’s advice help NRIs to remember that their’s difference between needs & wants.