The days when life was simple and we had but one or two choices in decision making are long gone. Remember when we were kids and the only choice for a car was between the good old ambassador and the fiat (padmini) or when to buy insurance meant LIC or mutual funds meant Unit Trust of India.
Today there are many choices for any one need. Each company and each product with its own messaging and pitch to customers! Each with its own strong and ever growing distribution!
How many times have we all felt the need of information that could help us decide which product or service best meets our needs?
As a “participant” in the financial product market place, I have often looked at the complexity around me and wondered how people can make informed choices. The fact is that financial product companies and the regulations that govern them have rendered products incomprehensibly complex.
There are myriad charges that are levied, product structures are not uniform, costs of distribution are opaque, and the market remains immature to a large extent.
In my experience, the Indian consumer is extremely conscious of the choices he or she has to make and usually makes an effort to find out more before taking decisions about financial products. Most consumers still depend only on traditional sources of information that they trust – namely friends, family and, often, the neighborhood advisor. Often, this advise is based on personal experience or what has been heard.
Unfortunately, this also means that not all available information is taken into account. Experience shows that the best selling products are not necessarily the ones that have the most benefits or the lowest costs. This is fine, as long as customers are aware of the products and have not selected them. Often this is not the case!
Enter the Internet!
In today’s world it just makes plain sense that one uses a comparison engine that allows a customer to compare products, so that they choose the product best suited to their requirements. One has to look for comparison engines that are unbiased, comprehensive and help the customer cut through the clutter.
In the international market there are many examples of companies that provide these services for financial products. In India, the best known comparison sites are those in the travel space.
Watch this space for more…
(The author is Founder @ i-save, a soon to be launched comparison portal)