this was written in 2007-8 and appeared in an abridged form in moneycontrol ….



Congrats on the nice job you have got! With a degree from an Ivy League school this was a nice job to land. I know you have majored in Finance and are hoping to make money by the tons. Of course I will be sad if I see your picture in the newspaper – these days newspapers only talk about financial scams.

There is nothing wrong with the Love of Money. In fact all generations had its heroes – and for this generation the ‘rich’ man is the hero. However do not forget what Mahatma Gandhi said – the journey is as important as the destination, so Kiddo do not take short cuts. As doctors your Dad, Mom and I could have taken short cuts – but would not have the kind of respect that our family name carries.

Among the news items I see people with a net woth of $ 1 billion CHEAT their own fund off $ 600,000 – to me this is amusing – not worrisome. I remember a few years ago the Indian CEO of a brokerage house was seen cheating his OWN client off Rs. 58,000 – when he was being paid a salary of Rs. 38 lakhs. Again is this because money is not means to an end but a scorecard? Be careful of the people you meet.

Also compared to many of your classmates your salary of US $ 64,000 looks small, but comparisons are so foolish. I charged my patient Rs. 8000 for a bypass operation – because that is all he could afford. Your mother teaches in a government medical college – for a princely sum of Rs. 235 per lecture. Surely we ‘deserve’ more, but can live with this can we not? You also need to remember she paid almost no fees for the medical post graduation! You were still in school when a man named Grasso said “I have done great things for the New York Stock exchange – so why is there a furore over my $ 140 Million salary?”

I think there is a crisis out there – the sense of entitlement – especially in the financial services industry world wide – is assuming terrible proportions. Yesterday I had dinner with Mahendra Bhai who happily sold off his financial service business for US $ 180 million – he himself found the valuation laughable. Of course as a shareholder of private company I am entitled to about $ 10 Million – which your Dad, Mom and I have decided to give it to Mahendra Bhai’s charitable school. I hope you earn enough to laugh off this donation when you are my age. However I will always love you for what you are not what you earn.

So go and earn your spurs. Do remember if you wish to be a school teacher you inherit my Defence Colony bunglow – or it becomes the HQ for Mahendra Bhai’s school. Mahendra Bhai was just a graduate when his father asked him to take over his family brokerage business, but he did a great job. He used to say “Business is about creating value for society through cooperation – which I cannot create alone”. When you are as successful as Mahendra Bhai your Board will be too scared to argue with you – so be careful. It is your duty to be able to hear criticism, so welcome colleagues who criticize you.

Also remember most people are Honest when they are being watched – it is not only easy, but also necessary. However at 12am if you enter a One-way street at 80 kmph and find a truck coming from the opposite side, you were only being practical. You knew there would be no policeman, so …..Similarly in the Highway of investing life – start early, invest smartly, believe in compounding, and avoid short cuts. It does not matter if the policeman is not watching – No entry is a No entry. It kills. You remember your classmates in class XII who banged their Merc and lost their own lives. I still meet Chandrakant Bhai who lost his grandson and the Merc. You know which asset he misses more.

Do not judge yourself by the amount of money you earn. Success to me is if kids want to emulate your behaviour – not if they want to buy a Merc if you have one. As a family we do not have a Mercedes – do you have any doubt about our ability to own one? I get a greater pleasure travelling in my 4 year old Honda City!

What is a couple of crores for a Wall Street Hot Shot executive? But hey Kid do not play this game of self delusion for too long. Keep questioning your contribution to your employer, your customer (he pays your salary, your employer is just an aggreagator) your contribution to society. Ask why your mother spends more on petrol than the ‘fee’ she gets paid for teaching in a government hospital. Or why your father charges only Rs. 15 per visit for slum dwellers? Not that doctors are paid more or paid less – your Dad, your Mom and me took the “Enough” route. However thanks to the fund management skills of Mahendra Bhai, Magic of Compounding, a booming stock market, and our own disciplined investments, we have more than what we require. So will you by sheer hard work – yours and your Money’s!

Go and have fun. You should see the whole of USA – the infrastructure they have created is awesome. If time permits see Europe too – those are great investments too!

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  1. dear subra,
    How straight forward and simple your articles are. Its a reader’s delight. I think you are AMITABH BACHCHAN of financial world.
    Do you blog daily to write the articles or you have collections of your writings which you share daily with us.
    Once again congrats.

  2. thanks. I blog as and when i can, but the software lets me schedule it to appear daily. The biggest challenge for a professional is to use simple day to day ideas and put it across to people without hurting or intimidating them. CAs (oops I am one too!) talk of p/e, VAR, PAT, EVA….and people get scared. All professions have that issue. If you can say buy why say purchase? if u can say driver why say chauffer? that is skill. Sadly people love complicating.

  3. hey Subra very well written. When I see my bank account I do not feel I’m overpaid, but at the end of the year when I see the no. of digits in the gross pay I realise it is really gross :). My father worked much harder and my annual gross salary is 25 times his PF accumulation. Forget telling him, I think it is too much. Like Michael Lewis of Liars Poker, am scared one day I will be caught. Well written article though!

  4. Dear Subra,
    Wonderful article! I recently started reading your blogs – got a link from Manish Chauhan’s jago investor.

    I particularly liked this one – “the journey is as important as the destination”

    Thank you for making it appear so simple. I am aware of the skill needed to say things in a very simplistic way.


  5. Excellently written, but completely from a very rich man and a very high plane. Nobody born after 1975 is going to identify with a simple living high thinking kind of Gandhian (Rajaji, Bhave, JP Narayan, Morarji Desai, Acharya Kriplani) kind of thinking. I, me, myself is the thought for today sir!!

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