Do aur do paanch


Ashish Modani, SLA Financial Solutions, Jaipur



First of all before I go further on to the third and concluding article of this series on team building, let me honestly admit that even I have learnt a lot by writing these articles. It has made me think about various points over and over again and in the process I felt that even within my own organization, there is huge scope of improvement. Point is that no one is perfect and we have to keep trying. So those of you who are scared of having a team as you think you don't know much, believe me, same fear is with me every day. But every time I face fear, I see huge opportunity waiting to be grabbed and then my fear just vanishes... my excitement level goes far ahead of fear levels. Yes, we will make mistakes during the journey but let's accept those mistakes not as stumbling blocks but as building blocks.

Coming on to team building, we have earlier spoken about first moulding our own mindsets (Stop making excuses, Mr. IFA) and then about team selection (To build a team, you need a big heart). Once the foundation is laid, the important thing is how to run the show and how to make the team a cohesive unit that pulls together in one direction rather than a collection of individuals, each doing his or her own thing. From my experience, it comes down to three Cs: Clarity, Consistency and Culture. Get these right and you can actually achieve "do aur do paanch" instead of "chaar".


An RM will be motivated to work with you when he has clarity not only on what is expected of him, but also on exactly how this has to be achieved. Our job as the entrepreneurs is to articulate a clear set of broad guidelines and principles and then let RMs work independently, within the framework of these guidelines.

Let them "own" their business. When I talk of giving ownership, I do not mean to say that you make them partners. That's a different point all together. What I am trying to say is that we should give them the comfort to think on their own within broader guidelines framed by your company. What we need to understand is that system should be independent and your interference in the system should not come on day to day basis. For example, we can make a broad selection of scheme/choices (like STP for 12-24 months) for different purposes and within that set of schemes/rules, RMs should be free to decide.

It is similar to the fund management style that we keep hearing from AMCs. If the CIO were to micro-manage every fund manager, will any fund manager be motivated to work there? The CIO's job is to set the broad policy framework, the house view and the risk management framework - and then let each fund manager manage his fund using his own acumen, but within the framework.

Similarly, we need to set broader rules/selection of schemes and within that RM should be free to choose any. That's the meaning of giving ownership. If they feel that they can be questioned for every action of theirs or for every action, they have to take permission, it would cripple their imagination. Mind you, every RM is in his own way an entrepreneur as he gets rewarded for the revenues he generates - we must respect that. Your role as the leader is to create more leaders in your organization. Give your team a sense that they are allowed to take decisions. This will give them the sense of ownership which is the most important criteria for them to stay long. They must feel that your organization is as much theirs as it is yours.


Consistency is the result of two things: simple processes and focused implementation of these simple processes.

Everybody says "Keep it simple" - this mantra is like common salt.. it is just everywhere. Whether you talk of investment strategy or you talk of practice management of an IFA, it is just everywhere. If you need to grow, first thing we have to do is to uncomplicate. Let me give a simple example of making things simple.

Some time back I posted an article on WealthForum "10-10-10 Rule". At SLA, we don't call it Liquid Debt or Equity, we have 10 day money (shortterm), 10 month money (medium term) and 10 year money (long term) concept. So now, we all speak the same language with all clients. If a client has short term tenure, he can choose schemes which we have defined under 10 day and if client has long term financial goals, schemes identified under 10 year are recommended. I am not getting into what schemes we have under each category, all I am trying to convey is that we now speak one language to clients. Now even if RMs were to leave, the terminology that he is used is that of SLA and not that of the specific RM. This 10-10-10 rule has not only helped in giving one voice to RMs but it has also helped people in backend who many times do interact with clients.

Building a cohesive team is nothing but INDUSTRIALIZATION OF ADVISORY PRACTICE. Think of an industry, there are set processes for every department and those processes needs to be followed by all so that every time an output goes to a client, it is of similar nature and quality. We need to set systems in place for each and every process we have. We need to create a system for on boarding of clients, query management system, forms processing systems, due SIP/STP intimation system and the list can be long. Mind you, system creation does not happen in a day; it is always WORK-IN-PROGRESS. Even today we are evolving systems and processes in our organization. This is the fundamental requirement of scaling up. Do remember that when you are thinking of scaling up, you cannot afford to act like a boutique firm whose every design will be different. Again don't get me wrong that I don't take clients requirements into consideration.. that's the first requirement of our profession but I am talking about overall uniformity in the processes.

From an RM's point of view, when you have clarity and consistency, and you give him operational freedom within this environment, there's every reason to expect him to be motivated and charged to put his best foot forward.



Every family has its own culture. Parents strive hard to instil in their core values and beliefs in their children. They also try to make sure that they bond as a family, do things together, have fun together. Parents who are either unable or unwilling to devote the time and effort towards this, often see their children shaping up in ways that they regret later. Take an example - if you think that making the family happy is to just give more spending money to your better half and more pocket money to your children, are you really raising a happy family? Money does not bind a family together, it's a commitment to shared values and goals and commitment to each other that does.

What applies to your family at home equally applies to your family at work. You, as the leader, have to create that culture, that environment that not only makes your work family want to come to work every day, but also guides them into the right behaviour, by embracing values that are dear to you.

At SLA, there are three things we try to do, to create the right culture of the firm. One is a clear set of values that we live by - client first - always. When you come to our office, you won't find any wall space allotted for manufacturers' promotions - we exist for the client and manufacturers provide us products that enable us to serve our clients. Its all about their dreams and goals. Another value that is very dear to us is respect for each other and especially respect for women. There is zero tolerance within SLA for any disrespect shown by any team member to any woman. To be honest, as I write this, I realize that one thing I have not done so far is to put down on a piece of paper the core values of SLA, which I can hand over to any new person who joins us on day 1. I am going to do this, soon as I finish writing this article!

Second is a learning environment where young team members can quench their thirst for knowledge. We have Saturday Class twice a month, where team members select learning topics and give all of us presentations. We have a clearly laid down 7 day induction program for new recruits - they go to each department and spend time with each team understanding the diverse aspects of the firm's operations.

Third is a conscious effort to create a young atmosphere. We spend a lot of time at office - why not make it a fun place to be? So, we have a carrom board, we are now starting a carrom championship, we have a TT table, we cook up salad and sandwich lunches together on Saturdays, we go for picnics every quarter and we go for an offsite once a year. We bond together beyond work, we create our own work families!


To conclude

Clarity, consistency and culture gets the best out of team members, makes us do much more than each could have done individually. I haven't talked so far about money - money is important, but should not be the sole driver of why people want to join you and why they choose to remain with you. A team that is with you only for the money will never be with you. A team where you offer adequate money and at the same time, an environment to grow, to learn and to have fun - is a team that will stay with you, will share your vision and will work with you to realize the collective vision of your firm.


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

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