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Career Advice ‘We do not set any targets for our relationship managers’

‘We do not set any targets for our relationship managers’

Gajendra Kothari, MD & CEO of Etica Wealth Management talks to Cafemutual about his company’s HR philosophy and his leadership style.
Banali Banerjee Jan 14, 2016

What are the challenges faced by advisors in hiring and attracting the right talent, given that you are competing for the same pool of talent as banks and national distributors which are better known brands? 

The main challenges faced by advisors are - adequately compensating the right talent (you cannot match the might of larger companies), providing them a suitable training and motivating/challenging career path.

Give us an overview of your HR philosophy and approach. 

Our HR Philosophy is simple. The compensation should never come in the way for the right talent. If employees are working hard and sincere, we would make sure that they acquire the right skill sets and we give them appropriate training and exposure. We would also want them to have a sense of ownership of the company and take decisions as if it was their own firm. They may make mistakes but we wouldn’t mind as long as they are learning from their mistakes and not repeating them. We also don’t make them stay in office if there is no work. We normally don’t like to disturb our employees on weekends unless it is really urgent.

Who is your inspiration or role model in shaping your leadership style and HR philosophy? How have they influenced you?

My ex-bosses from UTI (Debashish Mohanty and Narendra Joshi) are my inspiration. I learned a lot from them, particularly in building people skills. Mr. Mohanty could connect with any employee with his ever smiling approach and he has always tried to help his colleagues in whatever ways he can.

In a business which is affected severely by market volatility and regulatory changes, is it possible to have a consistent HR policy? Have you rationalized/downsized staff or cut salaries in response to the many changes that have taken place in the environment? 

It is very difficult to have a consistent HR policy in an industry which is highly volatile and influenced by regulatory changes. However, the broader structure and policies should remain consistent. We have never cut salaries or downsized staff. In fact, we started our company in November 2009 when the markets were not doing well. So we haven’t seen a period of excesses yet. 

How do you incentivize them? Do you think monetary incentive is good way to motivate your staff? How do you ensure that such incentives are aligned to client interest? 

Yes, monetary incentives work. We give annual bonuses and decent salary hikes. Also, we believe that the office should have a very congenial atmosphere. We take our team out for lunch/dinner on a regular basis, celebrate festivals and birthdays with the entire office and attend their family functions, etc. For relationship managers, the incentive is solely linked to client interest. We do not set any targets for our relationship managers. All we want them to do is create happy customers who will provide us referrals.  

What activities do you undertake to train and inculcate soft skills, technical skills, etc.?

We send our team members to regular training programs offered by AMCs. We also send them to other paid seminars/events so that they can upgrade their skill sets. We encourage them to take up relevant courses in order to brush up their knowledge.

Most of your team is client facing. How do you train your employees to be customer centric?

We tell them to imagine themselves in client shoes. Imagine if I were a client, how would I liked to be treated? For instance, our team is always cheerful and their written communication is professional. Also, they follow ‘ABC’ approach of client segmentation, the A category client is treated with utmost priority and so on.

How do you retain your employees? Have you faced attrition challenge? 

On the very first day of joining, we tell them that we will not fire them unless they are dishonest and not sincere in their work. Even if there is downturn, we would like to keep the employees (even if it requires taking a salary cut for myself or even paying from my own pocket). I always tell my team that if they keep the client’s and the company’s interest in mind, we will take care of their interest.

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