“The most precious commodity is time”
It was 3:45pm of 8th of July,2016 as the XI batch of PGPX students dressed in sharp business formals as well as few other interested audience filed in to CR-1 to attend the talk of Mr. Sorabh Agarwal, Catalyst at Esha Foundation and an experienced finance professional. Mr. Agarwal has over 15 years of experience – most of which has been in Financial Research & Corporate Development. As a Senior Managing Director at Copal Partners he has set-up big research teams for multiple large clients and was also responsible for providing guidance on large strategic transactions as well as managing the post transaction integration and implementation.
An alumnus of IIM Calcutta, he has now left his corporate job to pursue his dreams and is now associated with Esha, a NGO working for empowerment and inclusion of blind, which has been started by one of his batch mates from IIMC.
Mr. Agarwal started off his speech describing his background: a Mechanical Engineer from MNNIT, Allahabad, he joined Tata Motors fresh out of engineering college for a year and then cracked CAT along with a host of his other batch mates. He joined IIM Calcutta as it had the reputation of leaning favorably towards finance. After stints at CRISIL and Tata Auto Plastics, he joined Copal Partners where he was the Senior Managing Director.
Mr. Agarwal spoke at length about the financial services sector and the students had a very interactive and enlightening session with him. He discussed the financial structure and where people could find good fits for themselves in the industry. Product Specialist roles for Finance and Military jobs are coveted ones as well as ones in regulatory bodies. He also spoke at length about investment banking, Corporate Banking and Retail Banking. Corporate Banking is on the rise as most of the banks are lending to small and mid size corporations and also overseeing compliance to the loans. Retail banking is more of a high volume and low ticket management with 5000+ banks to look into.
He talked about Asset Management in detail. Angel/ Venture Capitalists , Private Equity, Hedge Funds and Mutual Funds(MFs) are the areas where the Asset Management jobs are, and these are the desired fields for people who yearn to be in the Finance domain.
Mergers and Acquisitions(M&A) which are an integral part of the Finance Industry was also discussed in great detail. Mr. Agarwal mentioned that of all the mergers which take place, 70% are not successful. It takes a great deal of patience and effort to do a successful merger. There has to be a specific plan for the acquisition(90 days plan – Integration, Implementation and Monitoring) and it has to be actively followed. All the parties involved – the buyer, seller as well as advisors have to be ready for the merger. There can be several reasons why M&As fail like :HR issues, Post implementation issues, Wrong reasons for acquisition, lack of diligence to name a few. All these reasons need to be investigated and mitigated.
Outsourcing was another topic that was touched upon. India is at the forefront of outsourcing and it is a huge global market of $32.9 Billion. The Indian KPO market is 70% of the total market and employs about 70K people, growing at a rate of 24% per year. For Banking, there are three areas of Research, Lending and Compliance where outsourcing may be performed. Compliance to regulations are taken very seriously in the Financial services industry, as everything is in the public domain and all firms have to be careful to comply. Asset Management has outsourcing opportunities in Research, Reporting and Product Development, and Corporates outsource in Research, Reporting as well as Analytics. The employment opportunities that outsourcing offers are tremendous.
All the students were actively engaged in the session and there were a lot of questions from the students on the Financial sector and all the data that had been shared by Mr. Agarwal. He answered all the questions with candor and left the students wanting for more!
Mr. Agarwal emotionally talked about his association with Esha, an NGO for the blind and it was a notable gesture that he started to work for an NGO while in the peak of his career. He was influenced by spirituality at that point in time . Working with an NGO that helped blind children helped him somewhat in his quest to find his inner self. Faced with the choice of passing time Vs. living time, he chose the latter. He has recently become much fitter and has been training for marathons and mountain climbing driven by his determination. He swears by his beloved movie ‘Wall Street’s dialog ‘The most precious commodity is time.’
As the session ended, and we drifted out towards the tea and the snacks waiting outside, we were left to reflect on the truth of his words.
Sandeepa D. Sinha