Are you a Peacetime CEO or Wartime CEO?

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.

My colleague has been speaking to a lot of distributors and advisors the past few weeks. The common thread in most of these conversations was a general sense of negativity and fear.

A lot of them felt that this is not the right time to speak with clients as clients may not understand the fall and redeem. I understand the emotion (fear) that you are going through and there is nothing wrong about fear. It can sometimes help us from doing stupid things. However, the action that you are taking “of not communicating with your clients” is a recipe for disaster. In short you are choosing to do nothing.

Here is what you are actually doing:

  1. You are basically hiding when your clients need you the most and wishing that this problem goes away on its own.

  2. You are opening your entire client list up for grabs to distributors and advisors who do communicate.

  3. You are actually making this the worst phase by doing nothing. Doing nothing might be great advice for investors but doing nothing is not great advice for you.

This is once in our lifetime event that has happened, and this is actually the best time for you to strengthen your business and most importantly your client relationships. Like I have said earlier this business is all about relationships and you are exposing your business to a big risk by doing nothing.

There is this concept of Peacetime CEO/ Wartime CEO by Venture Capitalist Ben Horowitz that I love.

Ben describes Peacetime as the time when a company has a large advantage versus its competition and its market is growing. Applying this to our industry, a lot of IFAs were growing because the stock markets were growing (and with it AUM). Additionally, demand for mutual funds (because of Mutual Fund Sahi Hai Campaign) and advice was growing too.

On the other hand, during a Wartime, a company faces a colossal threat that can come from competition, macro-economic change or a Black Swan event (unknowable and unpredictable) such as Coronavirus. Today we are all in a Wartime situation. What has worked for you before will not work for you now.

Just ask yourself “How do you win Wars or How do you overcome challenges?”.

Reflect on this for some time.

I am sure you know the answer that a War cannot be won by cribbing or crying or blaming someone or even feeling negative.

First you must win the War in your head (This is where it all happens). You do not have a choice whether you want a War or Not. You are forced into one. You have 2 choices.

  1. Do nothing and Accept Defeat.

  2. Prepare for the War and Win it.

So, what should you be doing?

  • Say this to yourself “I am going to make these the best 2 months of my life or I am going to prepare for the next 2 months so I make this my best year ever.
  • Call every client. Talk to them and check how they are doing health and familywise. Ask them if they have any questions or something that you can help with. We have created a Coronavirus Kit for Advisors that you can use to communicate with your clients. Remember this is not a Sales Call, this is a leadership call (You play a leadership role in your client’s life and this is the time to demonstrate it). Chances are that new business could happen as well, but your objective should be to show them that you are there for them.
  • Call every prospect and people that you have met. Repeat Point b for them too.
  • Increase the frequency of your communication with them. Don’t send market commentaries and bombard them with market stuff or financial pornography. Read this post in case you don’t know what that means. You can send them useful verified stuff on Health Matters, Things that are of interest to their business or professional or interesting stuff. All of this can be curated, and anyone can do it (For that you don’t have to be a writer… There are tons of interesting columns and content that you can share).
  • Follow this Time Asset Allocation: 70% of your time should go on calls with clients and prospects, 20% of your time should go on building your skills (whether conversational or learning technology to deliver wow client experiences) and 10% on other matters.
  • This is the time to work your hardest and this applies to you even if you have Rs.1000 Crore of Assets. There is absolutely no substitute for this. You must lead from the front.

If you don’t gather yourself up now and behave like a Wartime CEO, you won’t even need any competition because you would have done their job and made it easy for you to lose clients (something that you have worked so hard for). The bigger threat to your business is not Coronavirus but your behaviour. What I am saying is that if you want, this can be the best phase of your business or the worst phase. Either way you are right.

Repeat this brilliant quote by Jim Rohn “Don’t wish it was easier… Wish you were better

It’s time to be a Wartime CEO, so stop sulking and behave like one.


P.S. Happy to help you in case you need any guidance or assistance. If you feel the need to speak with someone (even if it’s just to vent out), feel free to call on this number: 9167352299 (Rupesh Prabhu) and speak or email us at

P.S. P.S. Speak to people who you think otherwise can help.