To build a team, you need a big heart


Ashish Modani, SLA Financial Solutions, Jaipur



First of all, I would like to thank all the readers of Wealth Forum for giving an overwhelming response to the first article of the series. Got calls and personal messages from all over India and it really was a great gesture by all to have appreciated my little effort of sharing my experience on this topic.

Anyways to continue from where I left, I would like to take you all to the next level of my learnings as team leader. Before I start, I would request all of you not to call people working with you as your employee or staff. Lets call them TEAM. This change may look insignificant but it brings a big shift in thought process. Its not I, its always WE who are doing and who will do it.

Become a role model first

Raising a team is similar to raising a kid at home. For every kid when he/she is young, parents are no less than heros. They look at them for learning everything. If you are born in a Tamil speaking family, kid will learn Tamil and if you are born in a Punjabi family, he will learn Punjabi. So you need to be disciplined to make sure that your team members are also disciplined. Often, I find that after achieving a reasonable AUM, the thirst for further growth diminishes. One comes late to office or goes home early. Energy to make new clients diminishes and one goes in that comfort zone. If that would be the case, I am afraid, Team cannot be built.I am not trying to say that one should not start slowing down and should continue to work as one used to do in the beginning but lack of discipline is what I am focussing on.


Whom to hire: MBA or graduate?

Another big dilemma IFAs have.. should I hire a well educated guy like an MBA finance or should I just hire a plain graduate. If I were to keep an MBA, I fear he would leave me but if I were to keep just a graduate, chances are that he may stick longer but may not be that productive and efficient. Answer to this question does not lie in education but somewhere else. Lets take an analogy from our industry itself. Does investing in the best fund guarantee the best portfolio return for an investor? No - even an average fund held by an investor through market ups and downs for a long time can deliver much better portfolio returns than the best fund bought by a nervous investor who is prone to emotional impulses. So is the case with a team member: MBA or not MBA does not matter, it is attitude that matters.

Let me give you a real life example.. I once had to go to Delhi from Jaipur for one day. I decided to take my car and called a freelance driver recommended to me by a friend. I told him I need to start at 6, so he should reach on time by 6 am. He said he will come at 5.30 - I told him 6 is fine, but he insisted that he will come at 5.30 am. I was confused and asked him why. He said he will need time to wash the car and get it ready for the trip!

I was positively surprised. What inspired me about him that he was WILLING TO WORK. On the way to Delhi I asked him if he would like to work with me and he readily accepted and today he is an integral part of our team. He started as a runner boy but looking at his technical skill, we sponsored him for Hardware training. Today he not only acts a runner boy but manages all my banking work and small little hiccups with computer/networking/internet etc gets solved by him. He is still pursuing his graduation but I know one day with his dedication, he will soon be star. Over a period of time, I believe he can become a good relationship manager.

So when I am looking at qualities in person to be in my team, I am looking at intention/willingness in him/her. I am not too much bothered whether he is MBA or not. Not to say that I don't value studies one has done, but I place more importance to his willingness rather than his education. What if one is highly educated but not willing to give more than 100%. It is not so easy to find out such person but when you keep your eyes and ears open, you will find people who could be gem for you.


Mind you, most of the IFAs are not big brand like Banks or other financial institutions. My observation is that fresh MBAs look forward to brands like HDFC, ICICI so that they can use the same in their CV for better jobs. They may not like to join SLA. Even if they are willing to join, they probably will hunt for some big brand which they think looks good on their CV. I honestly would not prefer MBAs. I rather have graduates but guys with willingness to work with you. Now, we do have couple of MBAs as well in our team - but first they were working in a bank, got hugely frustrated with their work culture and wanted a better work environment. So keep your eyes and ears open. You will find people.

Your RM is your investment, not your ATM

Its like an investor looking at an account statement within one month of investing in equity fund. What would be your reaction? Similarly, often its seen that expectation of revenues starts immediately from the sales guy. If one is giving a salary of Rs. 20000, the person should be able to get business that gives more than 20000 revenue so as to justify his salary. Yes, it is true that we are not doing a charity and expecting monetary rewards is quite obvious. Here is where we as entrepreneurs need to show some wisdom and patience.

Many of us expect that the RM should be able to leverage his family and friends connections and start generating business from day 1. We resist giving the RM some of our clients to get him started - we want him to "earn" every rupee that we pay him. Truth is, if he had so many contacts and was capable of self-starting from day 1, why would he not set out on his own, and join a platform as a sub-broker initially? There's a reason he looked for a job and there's a reason why you looked for an RM.

You hired an RM because you recognized that you are unable to manage your growing list of clients. You realized that you are becoming a bottleneck to your firm's growth - that's why you looked for an additional resource. If that's true, don't look to your RM to generate all clients on his own. Be prepared to hand over some of your smaller clients to him to help him get started, and create headroom for yourself to take on larger clients, new clients. Over time, he too will grow in confidence and will be able to bring in new clients. But until then, nurture him and support him.

I make it a point to take my new RMs with me on as many calls as I can - it gives them valuable on-the-job training. When I hand over some clients to a new RM, I allow them to earn incentives on all fresh business they bring in from these clients. Sometimes, when we go on joint calls, I give them incentives on business received in the joint call - even though I may feel I did most of the effort. You need to motivate your team, boost their confidence, invest in your team.


Always look at how to increase your team member's revenue rather than thinking about how will he increase my revenue. In this way, you will work with him and not with clients. Clients will then become comfortable with him and will not talk much with you. That is what will truly free up your personal time to devote to bigger things.

Don't be afraid of investing in your RM thinking he will run away. Don't resist giving him some of your clients out of fear that he will take them and run. Is there a guarantee that he won't run? No, there isn't. The irony is we encourage clients to move from guaranteed return investments to market risk investments in the quest of creating a lot more wealth over time. But we shy away from market risk oriented investing in our team and forfeit our chances of building something much bigger, because we get hung up on guarantees. I have seen a couple of my RMs leave my firm, but we've still grown a whole lot more in the last decade than I could ever have done on my own. And I am planning to add many more RMs - even after losing some - because I was able to retain most, and that's paid off for me much more than freezing at the thought of someone leaving me.

At the end of the day, to be a successful team builder and team leader it just boils down to one thing - have a big heart!


Content is prepared by Wealth Forum and should not be construed as an opinion of HDFC Mutual Fund.

Share this article