Friday, December 31, 2010

Seasons Greetings

Relationship Management

When I got back this evening from office, tired from the quarter end pressure, all I could think of was to party on the long New Year weekend.  As I was trudging up the stairs, the elderly lady who stays next door shot me a look of utter disgust that caught me by surprise. Her daughter-in-law who was with her said in hushed tones, “Beta I think you need to really look to change your job. Have you read the Times of India today?” I was befuddled for a second and then it struck me what she was talking about ... 

This morning, the TOI had really got my goat. This is with reference to the article titled “Beware of the charm of the bank relationship staff” that appeared in today’s Mumbai Edition of the TOI. I work as a Relationship Manager with a private bank in Corporate Banking, and this article’s title is the most generalized and derogatory statement that I have read in a long time. 

I have major issues with such a sensationalist article. The title itself of the article is near slanderous and the text is a personal rant against my profession – the jist of the article is that all Relationship Managers work with the intent of duping their customers. Think about it – isn’t it like saying beware of doctors because there has been one bad egg who has caused a death of a patient due to medical negligence. What next? Beware of the Army because of Adarsh Society scam. And what about Journalists and the media– are all of them for sale? Well there is culpable proof against certain “respected” journalists in the recent Radia tapes, you know.

Sample  this: “The names that figure in the so far un-published extracts of these conversations (accessed from audio tapes put out by Outlook magazine on its website), are from respected media Houses like Economic Times, Hindustan Times, NDTV among others. It is amazing how Radia uses them. These conversations, with audio links at the end of every extract, tells a sad story of how some of the biggest names in the business of media, stands exposed, if not for corruption per se (as no quid pro quo is still established), at least for being handmaidens of the corporate houses and their power brokers.” Source:

The TOI article has made some serious allegations on my profession based on comments by unnamed sources such as:

1. “There is too much of muck in the way business is done. It has become a practice.”: Is there any proof to back a serious allegation like this? So what TOI means is that RBI regulations are useless and auditors are sleeping – well, they should be a fly on the wall in the Compliance department of any bank when an RBI audit is on to check the facts!

2. “…the basic qualification to get a relationship manager's job is how good you look and it depends on your communication skill”: Is that so? That means that all RMs are basically airheads who get the job because they look good and can speak well. So we are modern day geishas of the corporate world, aren’t we? It is another matter that all my RM colleagues are qualified professionals with either a post graduate management degree from a top notch B-School or are Chartered Accountants. However, if the writers of this libel are to be believed, then we got our jobs basis our good looks and charms. Well, I’m flattered!

3. “Also, banks lax often don't comply with basic norms.”: I would like to what are these norms are? This is quite a loose open-ended statement to make. All banks and financial institutions are governed by RBI. This allegation is a direct attack on the RBI in my opinion. As a banker, I think RBI is an excellent regulator - their norms and guidelines are followed universally. Having been in Banking for over four years now, I can say with some degree of confidence. In fact, in this very article, two paras above, the consequences of not following guidelines have been mentioned - “There have been instances of the relationship managers in these banks getting sacked for not following the prescribed norms.”

In its rant against RMs, TOI forgot that the genesis of the Shiv Puri scam was one of the seven deadly sins: Greed. Both parties (the Wealth Manager and the customers) were equally culpable to the events as their own article on page 10 of the same edition proves – here’s what the article said: “His wealthy clients saw in Puri a short cut to even more riches. According to the police, over 20 high net worth investors allowed themselves to be lured into his trap. A major problem with greed is that it prevents people from using their intelligence fully.

We all know the old joke: “What is the collective noun for a group of bankers? A Wunch of Bankers” – this article seems to take this joke forward with its extremely amateurish, immature and senseless barbs. It seems to be written with the motive of settling personal scores. I wonder how it got past the editors? I mean look at solutions the article has given to potential gullible HNI customers: “Ensure that you run an identity check of the RM.” – How very original! Well done. Stone Cold Steve Austin said this about a decade back – “DTA” – don’t trust anybody! At the end of the day, would you and can you trust anyone with your savings with your eyes shut? D-uh?!

My humble request to the Editorial team is that do not print such a scathing attack on a profession without substantial evidence. Admittedly there are bad eggs in every basket (allegedly such as Shiv Puri), and the media does its job by enlightening the public about their misdeeds. The media is the watchdog of society - however, in this case is clearly barking up the wrong tree!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What a Year!

"So what do I wish for my hero in the future – well if wishes were horses then I would want him to score atleast 15,000 runs in test cricket (well that’s only 2227 runs away), complete a century of international centuries (only 14 more to get!), to break Lara’s record of the highest test score of 400* (it’s sad that Sachin hasn’t got a triple ton till date…) and break Saeed Anwar’s record of the highest ODI score of 194 (well Sachin came close in Hyderabad scoring 186* (150b) on 8th Nov 1999 – a game I was priviledged to have watched at the Lal Bahadur Stadium)… but above all else, he must win India the World Cup (his stature demands it!)."

I wrote the down this fantastic wishlist on 20th September 2009 when Sachin completed his two decades in International Cricket - at the time, I did not imagine that in just over a year down the line, playing his 21st season for India, at 37, my hero would achieve almost all of the above.

To say that 2010 has been an incredible year is the understatement of the year!  

In Oct 2010, Sachin who made history  by becoming the first batsman to score 14,000 runs in Test cricket, says his desire to improve remains as intense as it has ever been. Currently he has 14500+ runs closing in on my first wish of 15000 test runs! Here's the Master getting past 14000:

Instead of struggling for form with advancing age, SRT has had the most prolific year of his Test career in 2010  - He has made 1,532 runs in thirteen Tests this year (with one more match of the three-Test series in South Africa scheduled for this year, Tendulkar has opportunity to surpass Mohammad Yousuf's record of 1,768 runs in a calendar year set in 2006 - hey he needs just 257 runs) at an amazing average of over 85 runs per innings with 7 centuries including the 50th of his Test career last Sunday (19th December 2010 - Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar became the first batsman to score a monumental 50 centuries in the 133-year history of Test cricket. No other batsman has scored more than 39 Test centuries) - and he insists rather than considering retirement he has many more goals to fulfill...that's good news for me then because with 46 ODI tons and 50 Test tons, he is now just 4 away from my second wish of 100 International Tons (even Curtley Ambrose thinks so!)

Sachin's 50th Test Century

Now on to my 4th wish - in February 2010, a few days before his 37th Birthday (and one day after my 29th!), Sachin scored the first double century in ODIs thus eclipsing Saeed Anwar's record! What a birthday gift!

Tendulkar's record-breaking ODI double century has found a place in the Time magazine's top 10 sports moments of the year. "Certain sports milestones seem simply unreachable: In cricket, it's the one-day double-hundred: no man had ever produced 200 runs for his team during a one-day international match," 'The Time' said. "In February, however, India's Sachin Tendulkar, the greatest run scorer of all-time, hit the magic milestone against a powerful South African squad.

Sachin's ODI 200

"Tendulkar smacked three 'sixes' - the cricket equivalent of a home run - during his epic performance, and the build up to 200 was exhilarating.When he reached 199, the home crowd in Gwalior waved Indian flags, and roared, knowing they were about to witness history. The diminutive Tendulkar, dubbed "The Little Master," slapped a single past the South African fielders. The world's 1.5 billion cricket fans had a moment they'd never forget," it said.

So with 50 Test tons, 46 ODI tons and over 32,000 runs in the bag, here's what his record currently looks like:

(Also, check out this link for his CV!)

With all this and more, is it any surprise that Sachin won the ICC Cricketer of the year?!

Sachin @ the ICC Cricket Awards

And in February 2011, the entire country (including his coach, Achrekar Sir) will be willing him to lead India to World Cup victory.

Well at least Lara's 400 is safe for now - I'll settle for a triple ton or two. If wishes were horses...