Hats Off to the Financial Wizards

     Print Edition: March 2013

The stock market sentiment improved in 2012, but making money was not easy. Every aspect of the country's finances, be it fiscal deficit, interest rates, inflation, credit off-take or currency value, involved challenges. Despite these, numerous institutions and individuals did exceptional work to ensure the financial well-being of investors.

The Money Today FPCIL Awards 2012 honoured those who for years have been extending their expertise in the personal finance space to investors and acted as torch-bearers through the turbulence of 2012. The awards have been instituted by Money Today and the Financial Planning Corporation (India) Pvt Ltd (FPCIL), established by the Financial Planning Standards Board India. The awards have been powered by Certified Financial Planner Certification, a global mark of excellence in financial planning. BDO India, the Indian member-firm of the world's fifthlargest accountancy network, BDO International, is the knowledge partner for the awards.

Justice (Retd) B N Srikrishna delivering the keynote address
"This is a very proud moment for us at it is the first time these awards have been instituted with the aim of awarding organisations and individuals across sectors who have excelled in their respective fields," said Chaitanya Kalbag, Editor, MONEY TODAY, in his welcome speech.

Ranjeet Mudholkar, managing director of FPCIL, said organisations and individuals who worked relentlessly to provide the right products and services to consumers, enabling them to actualise their financial goals, deserved to be recognised.

The awards recognise the importance of ethical practices and cover the entire spectrum of financial services, including asset management companies, banks, capital and financial market service providers, insurance companies and financial planners (both institutional and individual).

"We hope the awards set a new benchmark in the years going forward that will encourage healthy competition along with enhanced innovation and imagination to get better understanding of what makes our money work for us," said Kalbag.

DISTINGUISHED JURY PANEL

Jury Chairman D Swarup addressing the gathering
The awards follow the highest standards of examination, investigation and probity. The awards were ratified by a jury of seven eminent members after rigorous examination."The jury is the most distinguished panel that you can assemble in the country," said Kalbag.

The jury chairman, Dhirendra Swarup, is the member-convenor of the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission. He was earlier chairman of the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority. GN Bajpai, a member, is a distinguished business leader and former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India and Life Insurance Corporation of India. BD Narang, former chairman and managing director of Oriental Bank of Commerce, is widely known in the banking circles. The panel also included MV Nair, chairman of the Credit Information Bureau (India) Ltd, known as CIBIL. Prior to this, he was chairman and managing director of Union Bank of India and Dena Bank and chairman of the Indian Banks' Association. Another jury panelist was Naresh Takkar, the managing director and CEO of ICRA, who led ICRA's teams to develop analytical criteria for various sectors, including banking, project finance and structured finance. Ranjeet S Mudholkar, another jury member, is vice chairman and CEO of the Financial Planning Standards Board India (FPSB India). Shailesh Haribhakti is a fellow chartered accountant and chairman of BDO Consulting.

The event was graced by Justice BN Srikrishna, the chairman of the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission, as Chief Guest. In his address, Kalbag addressed Justice Srikrishna as the most distinguished jurist in the country. In fact, every major commission over the past decade has borne his stamp; the Srikrishna Commission, the Sixth Pay Commission and the Telangana Commission, to name a few. Haribhakti of BDO Consulting described him as one of the tallest personalities he has known.

In his keynote address, Justice Srikrishna said, "It is said that consumer is king. However, in the field of finance, the consumer is as lost as Alice in Wonderland. Unless there is expert advice, it is impossible for consumers to discern the applicability of a particular investment product or its efficacy. The consumer should be the centre of all services."

"This makes it imperative for institutions to constantly innovate and for distributors to constantly enhance competency and skill set to be able to deliver consumer delight," said Mudholkar. Justice Srikrishna said we have seen several crises pass by us-the tsunami in 2008 and the global financial where we didn't get burnt like America nor faced deficits like Europe, due to which there is a certain amount of complacency. Having said that, there was a need to change the regulatory structure and financial laws in the country and it was better to do it now during peace time than war time, he said.

"With this focus, we are building a financial architecture for the country for the next 15 to 20 years," he said.

Justice Srikrishna quoted philosopher-poet Bhartrihari: "Sandipte bhavane tu kupakhananam pratyudyamah kidroeah", which means that once your house catches fire don't start digging a well to get water; instead be prepared for this; no fire-fighting is going to help. In other words, it's best to be prepared for contingencies.



STRINGENT PROCESSES

"The award winners have been arrived at after robust discussions. A transparent jury process was followed that challenged every assumption and then reached the conclusion," said Haribhakti of BDO Consulting. The process involved holistic evaluation of nominees that included quantitative and qualitative analysis, backed by independent validation and customer perception. The awards process, said Swarup, focused on consumer well-being and protection and not just the numbers and performance of nominees.

"There was great focus on parameters such as customer service and satisfaction, regulatory compliance, product effectiveness and risk management, which are all aligned towards governance, creating an investment cult and helping create an environment of financial discipline amongst the public," he said.

The bias of judgment, said Swarup, was minimised by converting as far as possible the assessment of qualitative factors such as financial inclusion, investor perception and resources dedicated towards consumer literacy into quantitative terms.

Chief Guest Justice (Retd) B N Srikrishna (sitting left) with award winners, jury members and sponsors

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