A Critical Thing to Learn from the recent India – Australia Test Series

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

Amar Pandit

A respected entrepreneur with 25+ years of Experience, Amar Pandit is the Founder of several companies that are making a Happy difference in the lives of people. He is currently the Founder of Happyness Factory, a world-class online investment & goal-based financial planning platform through which he aims to help every Indian family save and invest wisely. He is very passionate about spreading financial literacy and is the author of 4 bestselling books (+ 2 more to release in 2020), 8 Sketch Books, Board Game and 700 + columns.

What do you need to Win an International Level Team Sport?

Think about it.

The answer to this question lies in the question itself.  You would have figured out the answer by now. It is the “Team”.  Visualize the recent India Australia series that India won. Everyone had written India off. The reasons – first, our best and most experienced players were not playing and second, we had not won on those pitches for the last several decades. So, what made the difference? The Team. While individual players are important, the most critical part is how they play as a Team and Leadership. (I will make an interesting mention about Leadership in the end).

Imagine 11 Virats or 11 Bumrahs playing a match. Will we ever win any match? Even the greatest 11 players will not help us win the key matches. The same applies to you and your business. The quality of the team and its ability to work together are the 2 most critical parts of any wealth business. This is what drives everything including client experience, client acquisition, emotional connection with the prospect, engagement, servicing, relationship, and communication.

Some of you might say “I am a Solo Practitioner. I don’t need a Team.” I do not personally imagine anyone saying this aloud but even if you do, you are highly mistaken. Even a solo practitioner needs an excellent support team without whom he/she simply cannot thrive. You can run a sub optimal and a mediocre firm having this thought process, but it is unlikely to take you far.  I think most of you will agree with me on this front.

Now getting back to your own firm, ask yourself this question. Have I invested in a real team?Do not think of it only in terms of hiring people or increasing headcount, think about it from the following perspective:

  1. The quality of people you are hiring. Are they skilled or are you hiring low-cost team members?
  2. The compensation you are paying.
  3. Are they people who could have got any opportunity but are with you and your team for the vision, challenge, change that you intend to bring in this space, and for their professional and personal growth? Or Are they with you because they have no other option? Can they be with you even when they have other options?

A very dear friend of mine in this profession asked me the other day “In this industry, we are not getting good talent because of the low cost.” I asked him Why are you not paying more and getting great team members? Who has said we can’t get high quality folks in this space”?  There is so much talent beyond the financial services space, but we ought to look for skills and not just specific experience. The mistake that people make is to keep looking for talent within the same industry and even when they look outside, they look for low-cost talent. Yes, we are so obsessed with costs and low costs that we have just lost sight of high quality and being world class. You get what you pay for and when you are especially looking to get affluent /high net worth clients in the future, your competition is likely to be very different than what you have experienced in the past.

Twenty to Forty years back, you were likely the only ones in the profession and the whole value proposition at that time was providing access to products. Thus, many were also able to build assets as there was zero to little competition. Yes, there was competition (to those who might disagree) but my point here is that the value proposition was providing access to mutual funds or insurance or stocks. Today the value proposition has moved from access and transactions to asset allocation to financial planning and now into client experience and guided transformation (This concept is explained in my book in the chapter Client Experience). The competition today is very different and most importantly client expectations are different. Your clients are now exposed to different experiences from other industries such as Apple (Design and Emotional Connect), Amazon (Speed), Starbucks (Experience), Tesla (Driving Experience) etc. are changing entire value propositions.

Your competitive edge in this domain will not come from selecting mutual funds or products. It will come from your duty of care, your client experience, your value proposition, your way of taking care of your clients, your ability to guide people during tough times and to help clients live the life they have imagined with their money. This calls for different skill sets and different types of people. Do not look at people as costs or resources. Your team members are real people. Give them the Freedom, Flexibility, and the Respect they deserve while providing a platform for world class work, challenging engagements, and helping them grow as a professional and a person.

If you manage to address the above questions and work on building a great Team (even if they might not be the most experienced) while being a great leader, you and your team are likely to experience the magical results just like our Indian team experienced in Australia with a silent leader like Ajinkya Rahane.

Ajinkya might not be flamboyant or visually aggressive like Virat but there is no doubt that he is an outstanding leader, and he has proven his mettle with a young and inexperienced team. Inexperience internationally does not mean that they did not know how to bat or bowl. The fact that they are in the national team requires them to practice, practice, practice and be the best at city, state, and national levels.

Most people misunderstand the role of a leader. The real job of a leader is to build teams not manage people. Understand this distinction, implement it in your business and make a real difference to your clients, your team, your business and to our industry/ profession.