10 September, 2016

Are you setting up your children for failure?

Spare the rod & spoil the child is a well-worn slogan, from the past.  It’s import & context is now largely lost. Most of us have spared the rod & I fear we are spoiling our children. While the use of corporal punishment is long past, we have turned far too indulgent for the child’s well-being.

Today is the best time to be a child. Parents fawn over their children and do their every bidding. So, today, there is not anything that the children will not be able to make their doting parents do for them. It’s a happy situation for these kids, right?

The answer is – No.

Pampered Little tykes :  Children from families where they have got everything on a platter would not have developed many life skills.  Firstly, they just do not know how to adjust – for they have always got what they wanted!  These kids have not undergone any hardships… many of them have not even travelled in trains and buses. They have always been chaperoned in cars. They have always travelled in the cool confines of AC coaches in trains or have just flown from place A to B, in an airplane. 

These kids have also got the best shoes, a surfeit of toys, books & other knick knacks - so much so that, even when they get an expensive gift like a playstation, these children don’t go ooh-aah. They are quite blasĂ© even about things that the parents have spent time, effort & money to get them. Nothing excites these kids any longer.

Indulgent parents :  Parents have been indulging their precious little ones in the notion that they are giving them a head-start in life.  They put their children in fancy schools & spend small fortunes on their activities, classes & tuitions.  Parents these days don’t spare any effort to give their children that head-start in life.  They eagerly put them in Cricket/ football coaching classes – never mind the expenses. Their children can expect a full-fledged pro kit right at the start, which even a professional player would have been  proud of!  I have seen children kitted up so nicely, that it would appear they represent the district/state, when they have just about joined the classes !

Also people plan to send their children abroad – even those with comparatively modest means.  But educating children abroad is an extremely costly affair.  Many children are not able to land jobs when they complete – hence the situation is far from pretty. This takes away a significant portion of their accumulated wealth, which is not desirable considering the fact that people need to be cognizant of their own retirement needs.  The retirement period these days has become pretty long – between 25-30 year period.

Maladjusted children :  While the parents are doing everything with good intentions, there is an unintended consequence of their largesse.  The children, due to their privileged upbringing, have not experienced the hard knocks of life. They have been largely insulated from the hurdles which for normal children is par for the course. Many of them develop a chip on the shoulder attitude, which does not help anyone in life.

Since these children have been getting everything very easily they tend to have lower thresholds of patience, perseverance  &  hard work,. The drive & the burning desire to excel and come up in life, is largely missing. They already have everything, so why bother - would be their thinking.

 It’s not their mistake. They have turned out that way due to their charmed existence till that point. So the advantage which the parents are trying to confer can actually turn out to be a bane for the child.

Some parents may be thinking  - my children are from well-off backgrounds too – but they are doing well.
True. But the 80:20 rule applies here as well. 80% children  tend to be adversely affected when they are cocooned in luxury; 20% will be able to adjust and make the grade.

A litany of woes :   There is another problem, when the parents are putting their wards in “International “ schools.  Some of these children tend to develop inferiority complex after comparing themselves with other kids in their class/ school.  Even children from well-off families tend to feel poor as many of their peers are from richer households!  Children are actually upset that their parents are not taking them on foreign jaunts, every summer vacation!  And the fact that their parents own only an “ordinary” car rankles, as opposed to the Jaguar, BMW or Mercedes Benz, like the parents of their friends. The list goes on. They are unhappy with their shoes, birthday parties, their bags etc. They are poor by comparison!

There are also instances where children have started seeing their parents as “failures”, just because their parents are not CEOs, Executive Directors or business owners like that of their classmates!  That is so very unfortunate given the fact that parents have been trying to do their best for their children and are helping them to put their best foot forward!

Financial woes : Frugal living is not something these children have been taught. They have been weaned on brands and the high life. When they start earning their living, they will find it extremely difficult making ends meet -  for years. Their progenitors will have to extend life-support for them – for a many more years. That is all the more depressing for these children & their self-worth is undermined. Many parents have helpfully bought houses for their children;  they need not even work towards that!

Also since they live the high life they need to earn very well, their savings need to be good too, to take care of their goals. All these continue to exert pressure on the children and there is a level of tension which hangs over them like a pall of gloom.

Conclusion  :  Parents are overwrought when it comes to their children.  Considering the problems we have discussed, parents would probably do well to stay grounded & act sensibly when it comes to their children’s needs. They can ofcourse give them the creature comforts, but not overdo it. They can give them a good education. But a good education does not necessarily come from a snooty institution.  It’s a fallacy that educational institutions are exploiting to the hilt!

By exposing their children to the normal life that people live, they would be preparing their wards for properly integrating into the world as a productive citizen.  Indulgences & gifts should be measured and should be ideally linked to some outcome, to bring out the competitive spirit. Any money ( including pocket money ) given to them should be within reasonable bounds. Parents should not become an ATM for children!  All children should be put through the experience of using buses & trains.  I have heard that children of Godrejes used to travel by the same school bus as other children! 

In all this, parents will also do themselves a favour as they would not need to demolish their hard earned savings in Quixotic expeditions, thinking that they are helping their children “start life with an advantage”. A bit more discipline  & strictness – would do the parents a world of good!

Parents need to understand that, by being doting parents, unwittingly they may be setting up their children for a lifetime of underperformance & failure - which is in fact the last thing they desire!

Author  -   Suresh Sadagopan  | Founder | www.ladder7.co.in

#SureshSadgopan #FinancialPlanner #FinancialAdvisor #Fiduciary #LifePlanning #FeeOnly #HolisticAdvice #Ladder7

Image courtesy of Graphics Mouse at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

07 September, 2016

Jio, jee bhar ke!

I stood up when I saw this… there was this WA message - 45 minute speech by Mukesh Ambani at RIL AGM cost Bharti Airtel/ Idea a whopping Rs.11,950 crores ! 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jio is the cat among the pigeons. The pigeons were doing decently & knew about the cat all along. Now, the cat has pounced. Will the pigeons get caught – or will they be able to outsmart the cat? That’s a trillion rupee question.
It looks like it’s wonderful times ahead for consumers – what with subsidized handsets, low data costs & zero voice call costs – this is straight God stuff from heaven!  We are all justifiably excited. Mukesh is talking of a 100 million subscribers as soon as possible. That does not look like such a tall order with the dhamaka he has unleashed. But when will he make money ? That is a Quadrillion rupee poser!

But, I was intrigued as to why someone as smart as Mukesh has sunk in Rs.1,50,000 crores in a business that is notoriously difficult & keeps sucking capital like a vacuum cleaner!  He needs to make a profit of atleast Rs.15,000 crores pa or more, after all costs ) to make this investment viable. That certainly seems like a tall order, when he doing his Santaclaus-act of giving voice calls free & data at a fraction of current costs. Compounding that is the fact that people don’t have the handsets to operate 4G & he needs to subsidise that too, to ensure that people subscribe to his services.  In a nutshell, he is throwing too many sprats to catch that elusive whale!

Mukesh started off with a cash gusher & is expanding into all sorts of businesses that would absorb the stuff like a sponge – like Retail, Healthcare, Telecom. His brother started off shakily – power, radio FM, Big Cinemas, transportation/ Infra, finance etc., none of which had the potential to turn in any great money. Making amends, he is now getting into defence in a very big way, where there is potential to make it big. That’s a study in contrast.

These are really sharp businessmen whose calculations we may not understand. Only time will tell as to how successful these ventures are going to be & we may read their success stories in the pages of the pink papers, in times to come.

Now let me come to another aspect we think we understand a bit – finances. Even here there is one segment of clients who are considered to be uber difficult to understand. We have made an effort to address this segment and have given an advisor’s perspective on this.  

Check it out here –

You may give us a feedback as to whether we have cracked the code or if we are still in babes in the woods & need some growing up!

These are certainly interesting times. Change is everywhere. And that’s what makes life interesting, alive  & worth living - which is probably why Mukesh chose to call his offering Jio!

Suresh Sadagopan is the founder of Ladder7 Financial Advisories (www.ladder7.co.in)

The firestorm unleashed today...

Devotees are thronging all over, jostling for space. There is chanting, aarthi & abhishekam ( milk or other items poured over, bathing the deity ). It's still 4 o' clock in the morning & the horizon is turning a faint pink. So, if you thought it is some temple festival scene on an auspicious day, you are thinking on the right lines. But, you are wrong. It's not a temple scene at all. And it is not an auspicious day, in the religious sense.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
But, today is an auspicious day, a red letter day in Tamilnadu. It's the day when Kabali is being released!  The scene described was witnessed outside some movie theatres in TN! This happens only in TN, a land where Kushboo has a temple to herself & she presides over her people from her high seat in the Sanctum Santorum!

But, Kushboo, move over. Rajni Sir is different. He is a phenomenon in TN. He is that person, who will shoot a bullet and hold a blade which will slice the bullet into two & the sliced bullets will hit the two villans unerringly !  One bullet, two villans :) His prowess does not stop there either. It's where it all starts... reason why Rajni Sir creates a storm with his movie everytime !   Don't download Kabali - the whole Internet will stop! I was stopped at the nick of time, else you would all not have had internet today :)

Upshot -  I have not been able to see the movie yet. But, the story is all over the net. Kabali is the story of a worker in Malaysia, who is wronged, sent to prison & comes back, searches like hell for his family, strings them together again & in between annihilates sundry villans, . There is also the much hyped "Nerrupu da" staccato, to burnish his persona. 

Rajni & his screen wife ( Radhika Apte ) are supposed to have done a wonderful job. The inimitable Rajni style & panache is evident in the movie. Anu Vardhan has donned Rajni in dapper suits which adds polish to the Rajni Persona. Top notch cinematography too adds finesses to the Ouevre. 

However, independent reviews are not too flattering. Most of them are giving 2.5 -3 out of 5. You don't have to sport that long face after all, since you have not been able to see the first show. You may not have missed much!  

See some third party reviews here -

So, if you are working today instead of taking the day off watching Kabali, you have  been unwittingly right. Probably, we can see the same movie after a month in a theatre or in three months on TV and decide whether the movie was worth paying upto Rs.5,000 to enter the sanctum.  

Until then, there is work to keep company... and many, many more worthwhile movies to watch. 

Nerrupu da...  Kabali da...  Ippa vendam da  ( not now man )   :)

Reviewed by Suresh Sadagopan, who was happy to have watched this movie!

Suresh Sadagopan is the founder of Ladder7 Financial Advisories

06 September, 2016

A peek into the life of a genius

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler”, is a quote attributed to Albert Einstein, though it’s provenance is disputed. But the message it conveys is apt – wonderfully apt in the world of abstract mathematics, which, if it is not simplified, few of us will even understand what it remotely means.

Hence movies like The man who knew Infinity will have to be made accessible ( & dumbed down to make it simple ) & yet capture the essence of the top flight work they have done - is a daunting job.  There have been oeuvres like this before – like A Beautiful Mind which is about John Nash – a top notch mathematician.  The man who knew Infinity is about Srinivasan Ramanujan -  about our own Indian genius of a mathematician & has been told in a straight forward, simple manner, without unnecessarily lionizing the person, more than necessary.

This story starts in Chennai – a lad who is almost lost to the world, in the labyrinthine bureaucracy, as a Clerk in Madras presidency.  Fortunately for him he gets mentors who help him and assist him to get in touch with G.H.Hardy in London.  Hardy is impressed enough to bring him to London and is his friend , philosopher & mentor. Ramanujan’s genius is impressive in that he has proofs – without the necessary steps. But that confounds Hardy as it does others.

Hardy is played by Jeremy Irons, who has reprised the role with such finesse that he fits the role like a glove. Dev Patel has done a fine job too. Since the film is set in London, one gets a taste of fine English humour. The dialogues sparkle in their understated, subtle English humour - especially the ones between Bertrand Russel  ( essayed by Jeremy Northam ) & Hardy. The movie does not lag and one does not get a feeling that it could have been edited out. Mathew Brown has directed the movie & has certainly created one that he can put in his resume with pride.

The poverty from which Ramanujan comes is portrayed with dignity. The Chennai portions are fairly authentic. Ramanujan is a Vaishnavite & there are no gaffes when they show the Deity/ God or what shlokas their family intones or the feel of a Iyengar household…   Bollywood needs to learn here – I have seen countless movies where a  Vaishnavite sports a Tilak ( Namam ) and keeps uttering Muruga, Muruga ( a clear Shaivite God )!  But then Bollywood is not known for authenticity & is known more for their pot boilers - with their staple fare of fights, gory violence, whistle inducing dance sequences & midriff heaving song & dance routines.

Bollywood makes films on Dons, Politicians, business tycoons etc. But we needed an International producer to immortlise Ramanujam or for that matter Gandhiji on screen.  Struck me as odd really!
The emotional relationship between Ramanujan & his wife Janaki ( helmed competently by Devika Bhise ) has been handled with aplomb. The electric tension between the mother-in-law/  daughter-in-law duo has been captured well, which speaks well of the director who wants to tell the story from all viewpoints and wants to capture all the nuances in the protagonist’s life.

All in all, it was 135 minutes well spent. The mathematical content has been quite simplified to make it accessible to the audience. Prof.Einstein may not approve; but most of us may not otherwise follow it! 

Eminently watchable biopic.  Don’t seek thrills from this – it faithfully tells the story of a genius, without drama & unnecessary fluff.   If you would like to know him and get a peek into his mind, this movie does a good job.   Gets four star billing from me!

Reviewed by Suresh Sadagopan, who was happy to have watched this movie!

Author  -   Suresh Sadagopan  | Founder | www.ladder7.co.in

#SureshSadgopan #FinancialPlanner #FinancialAdvisor #Fiduciary #LifePlanning #FeeOnly #HolisticAdvice #Ladder7