August 17, 2018

No Strings Attached

Sadique Neelgund

No Strings Attached

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Many things in life bring a smile to our faces, especially toys like puppets which bring back our childhood memories.

While they have always entertained me in the way it dances and performs, I seldom realised it was that invisible hand of the puppeteer at work who was getting things done. I ask myself: how on earth did I not see the puppeteer?

In introspection, almost all of us, at some point in life have had these instances where we have been made to dance on various tunes akin to the puppet. The various regulators and client behavior, almost everyone wants to hold the strings to control us. Encountering such incidents although unintentionally and dancing on someone’s tunes isn’t a very good sight to imagine, least is to act in one. I am sure as a finance professional, most would sooner or later be either thinking of ways to let go or would want to move on becoming smarter from such incidents. Who on earth would want to be a puppet and remain at someone’s mercy?

Let me admit upfront, it’s easier said than done. On one hand, we have the marketplace growing thick & fast and on the other side, we have the fly by night operators. Add to this the constant feeds of news that gets fed to the client by the news and the regulators. The bigger question then is to seek solutions to master such situations and try & attempt to unravel this situation.

Let’s first look at the challenges and ways to change this situation.


#1: Newcomers or first timers and fresh entrants find it hard to establish themselves.

#2: Client seek immediate gratification with the IFA who agrees to whatever the client says.

#3: News and media are deemed to be more authentic. With so much of news coverage and posts doing the round, clients adorn the crown of “I know it all”. They assume whatever that is written in media to be the truth, nothing less – nothing more.

#4: High handedness by client. Many clients/ prospects look down on IFA. Treating them as doormats.

#5: Unprofessional setup by the IFA. Many IFA do not possess the necessary skill sets on professionalism. How can we expect continuous flow of business in the absence of systems and best practices?

#6: Sales precedes suggestions. Most aim to grow their practice from the very first day. In the bargain, most tend to push for sales more than suggestion. This creates a vicious friction detrimental to the profession. Constant changes by regulator too brings uncertainty in approach

#7: Rebating/ freebies are rampant in every businesses. However loyalty and service is the last thing to expect from clients and IFA’s both favouring these practices.

The BIG question, however, is “How to overcome” this syndrome?

#1: Admit we aren’t experts and acknowledge, we don’t know it all. Do not hesitate to seek time and go back to ones drawing board.

#2: Share success stories in brief. Ideas and stories that has benefitted some of the clients. If possible display testimonials on specific problem areas where you helped clients.

#3: Write blogs, articles and keep posting them on social media. Share them with prospects and clients. It will increase our value as a domain expert.

#4: Learn to say NO. Most clients or prospects feel it’s difficult for us to say no in a competitive market, however do what is unexpected. If things are unreasonable and aren’t in our scheme of things as a domain expert, say a firm NO

#5: Although the bait of toeing the line is too tempting to avoid, one has to stick to the highest level of ethics and professionalism. These qualities will help you stand apart from the crowd.

#6: Ask WHY? Whenever we come across a client who throws around his weight by citing his “research” and wants to impose his financial decision on you, ask “WHY DO YOU THINK SO”? I guarantee, most times the clients just goes for a long pause. This is where the advisor needs to act and guide client deftly.

#7: Be opiniated. It’s perfectly fine to be quoted out of context. One should never hesitate to voice opinions that matter. Nobody likes to follow someone who doesn’t have an opinion of his/ her own. Make your voice heard.

#8: Go with the flow. Although as IFA’s we are subjected to lots of changes, too many too frequently: it is important to stand firm on our feet and also show perseverance and resilience. If our focus remains on servicing clients, there isn’t anything that can dethrone you from your profession.

My sincere advice to everyone is to follow the path of professionalism with integrity, passion, perseverance and hard work. Our approach towards our profession should exhibit the highest levels of professionalism. We ought to take the help of technology and share our stand as often.

It’s neither any fun to be a puppet nor become a puppeter. As Nelson Mandela puts it aptly: “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”. Our profession is not about managing money, it’s about managing people and their expectations. Let us stop being dictated by clients and external changes and make our own storyline.

The situations and masters will keep changing time in time out. One thing that stands the test of time is to be true to self.

Let the real puppet show begin.

6 Thoughts to “No Strings Attached”

  1. Its perfect and well articulated. I liked it.

  2. Dinesh Hattangadi says:

    Very nice article covered on various economic situations prevailing in world over

  3. Ravi Narayaan Rao says:

    Very informative and educative article.

  4. Dipak Doshi says:

    Good and motivational article. But the sad part is that regulator and manufacturer are hand in gloves to bypass our services thru various unfair and unjust means. Like recently, Amcs withholding our brokerage for want of PAN/address of clients etc. Ideally, all three components -amcs , RTAs, If as are collectively responsible for such updation. But amcs and regulator just pass on bugs to ifas.No amcs will deposit their pie of share of direct clients with regulator whose details are not available. Such vindictive actions and double standards by amcs are unjust and unfair and lacks accountability. These and other some actions put us in bad spots shaking our confidences about best practices they follow in interest of investors.

  5. Ajit Bam says:

    Great article. Best wishes
    Ajit Bam

  6. Vikram Sapparad says:

    Very helpful when meeting a prospective client. Thank you..

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