June 4, 2020

And Ratnakar became Maharishi Valmiki…

Amit Trivedi
Owner, Karmayog Knowledge Academy

Once upon a time, there was a very skilful hunter named Ratnakar. He was not just a hunter; he was a cruel and fearless thief. He was living in the forests and whoever passed by that forest would be stopped and Ratnakar would rob them off all their possessions. He would feed his family through the stuff that he had looted in this manner.

One day, Ratnakar was hiding by the side of a forest pathway, waiting for a victim. Along came the great sage Naradji, who was walking peacefully, admiring the beauty of the forest and singing kirtans in praise of God.

Ratnakar jumped out in front of him and demanded, “Hand over all you have or else!”

With love flowing from his eyes, Naradji said smilingly, “My dear man, all that I have are these rags I wear. If you want them, you may take them!”  Naradji’s fearlessness surprised Ratnakar. As Ratnakar gazed in Naradji’s eyes, his cruel mind melted. Naradji saw this transformation and lovingly explained to Ratnakar how stealing and killing animals was very sinful. He reminded Ratnakar that although his family was eager to share the fruits of his bad actions, they would not share his sins. He asked Ratnakar to go and check it out himself.

Ratnakar rushed home and asked all his family members whether they would share the fruits of the sinful actions. Each one declined! They suggested that it was his duty to take care of the family; how he did that was not their problem.

Hearing this from the family members, Ratnakar rushed back and fell to Naradji’s feet and asked for forgiveness. Naradji taught him to recite the sacred name of Ram. Ratnakar sat down in the forest and continued chanting with closed eyes.

Years later, the same Ratnakar became Maharishi Valmiki and wrote the Adi-Kavya Ramayana. He is believed to be the first-ever poet and hence also called Adi-Kavi.

While the analogy does not exactly apply to an advisor’s business, let us take some liberty here – call it “poetic liberty”, after all, aren’t we talking about the Adi-Kavi?

The financial advisors do not involve in sinful activities, but in our story, we would replace the risks involved with certain investments. It is often seen that when the investment returns are great, the investors are happy. Many times, the investment returns are high because of the risks involved in the respective investment avenue. Take small-cap and mid-cap funds till early-2017, or credit risk funds till mid-2018. These products were generating high returns commensurate with the risks involved and then the inevitable happened.

Clients were happy when the returns were coming, however, when the tide turned, the questions about performance started becoming difficult at first, and ugly later.

If the advisor indicated that the risk was high, many clients felt that it was the duty of the advisor to keep them away from the risks without compromising on the investment returns.

Should the advisor feel like Ratnakar? The family was enjoying the fruits of whatever he was bringing home but were not ready to share the downside.

What should the advisor do in such a case? Should one become Maharishi Valmiki and write Adi-kavya Ramayana? No. That is not what we are suggesting. The Maharishi did Tapasya (penance). And he got the answer. We would suggest the advisors go back to the basics and the fundamentals of investment theory, as well as find better ways to communicate with the clients. It would be useful to educate the clients about the risks involved in various investments and take only those risks that the clients are comfortable with. At the same time, it is also important to highlight the consequences of not taking the required risks. We do not need to write another Ramayana, but only to go back and read out from the existing literature.

What are you doing, dear readers as part of your tapasya to ensure you emerge out of this, a better advisor and your clients, better investors?

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