A few months back at a conference, a fellow planner was sharing about his approach to practice. He stressed on an important point which was pertaining to the growth of clients on a continuous basis by identifying an area to develop and allocation of resources in money terms in their budget on a year to year basis and monitoring the progress. That struck a chord with what has always impressed me i.e. work is play when one does things close to his/ her heart.
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A leading corporate has ‘Growth is Life” as a tagline. Even Professional bodies / associations like that of Doctors, Chartered Accountants, CFP’s too have made it compulsory for their members to participate on a regular basis in their prescribed Continuous Education programs. In a simple and plain language communicating that life is dynamic and the need to be relevant and being continuously skilled, is of utmost importance in any profession, even while dealing with client’s life / financial life, irrelevant of the age.
In my experience as a planner, I have come across young parents who are very eager, and naturally so, who think about the future of their kids. They would like to plan for their bright future, to see them grow in all dimensions, be it mental, emotional or physical. In fact many parents dedicate their lives to almost over a decade until their kids settle down. And then as life settles it starts revolving around the growth stories of kids and slowly stagnation builds in. Completely missing that skill sets need to be sharpened at every interval to insure a safe future for self and the family, including the kids.
At times the case is something which Warren Buffett well explains, ‘Games are won by players who focus on the playing field – not by those whose eyes are glued to the scoreboard’. But in today’s business world for many individuals the expectations are built around growth in numbers in their salary slips without parallel growth in quality of life.
With this understanding I started being aware to this idea of growth and it struck that there are ways and means to go about it and I share my findings:
- Going on a Sabbatical: an official break away from the daily rut, granted by the employer to spend time to learn something new or do a research etc;
- Taking a break: a break from existing work to spend time with self and understand the direction of life ahead, with a financial preparedness to enhance skills or take a different approach to profession or a new job;
- On the job learning: can be either related to the job to enhance your competencies or to build a new set of skills.
- External part time courses, going parallel with the profession;
Manish Sharma, in his late 40’s, was pursuing a two year part time management course, to stay relevant in his engineering job, which then demanded people management skills to go up the ladder. He along with his daughter, pursuing her second year engineering, not only burnt the midnight oil or gulped cups of coffee but in the process shared some learning moments and wonderful memories.
While a Mahesh Dalmia, on the verge of retirement has allocated time and money for a stint at IIM Ahmedabad, to be in the profession as a consultant and take up teaching assignments till life permits. He has decided against hanging the boots, as the journey of retirement is going to be a long stint with the average mortality today standing at 78.
Whereas Ramesh Patni a partner with a firm was not satisfied with his working life and the stress it created, chasing clients and the expected ‘Yes’ man ship to keep them happy. Financially equipped, he took a break to draw the map ahead for his work life to make it playful / enjoyable / interesting and to make his strengths as a focus rather than weaknesses. In his quest to identify the road ahead he met people, explored opportunities and started with part time assignments and operating out of home. At the same time he kept exploring new ideas/formats and finally settled for an assignment which provided most of it.
On similar lines Jay Mange, an accomplished head of a function in a CA firm of repute, took a break to explore life outside of the regular rut and also enjoy some family time. After nine months of experimentation he settled for something that utilized his skills and sharpened it at the same time, though it called for tough work hours and also paid a bit less.
The purpose varies from upgrading in the present occupation, doing what you are good at, moving out of the clutter to being relevant post retirement. All of these to have a financially and/ or emotionally satisfying work life.
Further while dealing with clients this idea struck and most of them agreed to it and found the vacuum that needs to be filled. Interestingly the resource allocated need not be only money, it can be only time too, and the remuneration or pay back expected could be either monetary or emotional satisfaction or both.
In our journey as planners in India, most of us are still learning something new with each passing day, be it in the process or technology or client behavior etc, it’s still a long way to go to call India a mature market. Be it for the evolution of the planners or the maturity of the clients it is a virgin market. We are just scratching the surface.
We really need to give time, money, besides putting in big and sincere efforts to get a foothold for ourselves and the profession itself, by upgrading ourselves to meet the increasing and ever changing needs of the clients in a meaningful way in such a dynamic environment. Mitch Anthony of Financial Life Planning Institute speaks about an average of forty five transitions in the life time of an individual. Let’s equip ourselves to face it.
Remember Steven Covey ‘s seventh principle,’ Sharpen the Saw” in his marvelous book Seven habits of highly effective people.