Financial advisors as game changers

May 30, 2013 / Nandini Vaidyanathan | 69 Downloaded |  5044 Viewed | | | 3.0 |  10 votes | Rate this Article
Financial Advisory article in Advisorkhoj - Financial advisors as game changers

One of the things I am often asked is: Is there a difference between an entrepreneur and a businessman? The answer is: Of course. They are both chalk and cheese!

To my mind the big difference is a businessman starts an enterprise because it is a source of livelihood, it is a career option, it fetches him lots of money and the status in society that money brings and it supports the lifestyle that he desires. So he ideates, zeroes in on a business idea and goes about building the business around it.

An entrepreneur on the other hand becomes one because he doesn’t like the world around him. So he wants to change it. He wants to change it because he knows he has the power to change it,to transform the world around him.. He is driven not by an idea but by his obsession with changing the world. He is a game-changer. Not a businessman.

So are financial advisors businessmen or entrepreneurs? What is that one absolutely must-have leadership quality that a financial advisor needs to be called an entrepreneur?

He needs to possess Garuda Dhrishti and SarpaDhrishti in equal measure!

Let me explain.

 In the scheme of things in the Universe, Brahma is the Creator, Vishnu is the preserver and Shiva is the destroyer. Brahma’s role is to create the new order, Vishnu’s  is to keep it working and Shiva’s is to destroy before it becomes moribund. It is the most ideal virtuous circle. But Vishnu’s role is the hardest, making sure that order prevails and perpetuates. How does he do it?

If you have seen pictures of Vishnu in your pooja room, you will remember that sometimes he is seen riding on the back of the eagle, high up in the air and at other times, lying supine on a serpent, pillowed by its hood. Have you ever wondered what this could possibly mean? Riding high on the eagle means a 30000 feet view of things, in other words, as preserver, he needs a bird’s eye view of the entire expanse under him. But is that enough? Obviously not.  He also needs the ground level eye for details. He will not be able to do justice to his role if he had one or the other. He needs both!

The financial advisor in the next decade will need both in equal measures. It is not enough for him to say that he knows his customer. He will need to know his customer inside out. Experience design will be the new science that entrepreneurs will have to learn. There was a time when we were told: give the customer what he wants. Then there came a time when that was not enough and we were told: give the customer more than what he wants. In this decade even this has not been enough and we already know we have to give the customer what he does not even know he wants!  

It is not enough for him to say that he loves his team. No more can he take credit when things go well and pass on the blame to his team when things don’t.  He has to stand tall, look at himself in the mirror ruthlessly, confront brutal facts about himself and everything and everyone else around him, and deal with it with courageously. Courage here does not mean absence of fear. On more than one occasion, he will be petrified, he will even tell his team he is petrified but together they will conquer their individual and collective fear.

It is not enough for him to say that he invests in his team. He is part of his team so he has to learn to invest in himself! He has to be like the proverbial eagle which embarks on a long bloody adventure to reinvent itself. Legend has it that the eagle comes to a cross road when it lives for about a decade. It can continue the way it is and live maybe for a couple of more years. But if it chooses to reinvent itself, it can add as much as five decades to its life.

If the eagle chooses the latter it has to seek an isolated rocky place where for the next two weeks, it sharpens its beak against the rock till its mouth is reduced to a messy bloody pulp. It then meticulously plucks every single feather on its body for the next few days. It patiently waits for the wounds to heal and the feathers to grow back before it faces the world again, this time, new, wholesome and ready for playing a long innings!

It is not enough for him to say that he’s a preserver. He needs to be a destroyer too. He needs to let go the old before the old is dead and the new is powerless to be born. He needs to be disruptive in every aspect of his business, innovation should not be a catch phrase underlying his elevator pitch, it should be in his organization’s DNA!

You may say, well this sounds like an idealistic gobbledygook. I haven’t completed my story yet. This is the prototype of the financial leader as entrepreneur in the next decade. Will one person personify all of these qualities? Highly unlikely. He is a wise financial advisor who knows what aspects of the proto he embodies and what he lacks and instead of whining about what he lacks, he will bring on board people who have those very qualities. In other words, going forward, leadership will not refer to a singular pronoun but a plural one. We will see the emergence not of individual leaders but of a leadership collective.

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