Money Wise

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Money Wise
21 Oct, 2007, 0000 hrs IST,Aman Dhall & Dheeraj Tiwari, TNN

Sunday ET spoke to industry leaders across segments to find out about their first nest eggs. ET tracks how these bosses managed their money, right from college days to the early stages of their career.


Today, he may be managing one of the country’s largest insurance company. But for Gary R. Bennett, Managing Director & CEO, Max New York Life Insurance, success didn’t come on a silver platter. His success story is no less than a motivational book which speaks volumes on how can one survive and build a future against all odds.

“I learnt it from the book of life and life taught me some interesting financial lessons,” he says. Respect for money is what he feels is the first and the foremost lesson to be learnt when it comes to managing your finances. “I was on my own at a young age of seventeen.

I worked in a clerical position at a custom agency during the day to run my household and I doubled up as security guard in a hospital at night, to save something for future. Those were the hard times and it taught me the respect for money. I built inch-by-inch, accumulated wealth and at the age of 24, I was able to buy my first house,” he says.

According to him, one must have courage to dream, review and renew one’s goals and each one of us has the ability to make our dreams come true. “I never forget those years of struggle that laid the foundation for my financial success. And I am still building inch-by-inch for a better tomorrow,” he sums up.


Bijou Kurien, CEO, Reliance Retail, may now be spearheading the retail growth of the country but it was during the college days where he learnt to manage his resources effectively.

“I lived in Bangalore during my college life. Life as a student was an experience – dreams and aspirations, always running ahead of resources,” he recalls. Kurien feels that unlike today, in the ‘70s, diversions were few and music was the food of life. “Movies were fewer and viewing costs were reasonable. Food was limited to a few hang-outs on Brigade Road and Residency Road, which have given way to the glittery malls of today,” he says. Kurien finds a co-relation between the heady college days and the present economic jargons — “I had a frugal allowance. Personal discretionary capital expenditure had to be met out of savings in my revenue expenditure. Family could be depended on for other major capital purchases.

Financial planning was limited to a week, till the next handout. Budget allocation was driven by the head but spent by the heart. External commercial borrowings were limited to forgiving friends. But at the end, fiscal deficit was within reasonable limits.” But all in all, Kurien feels that managing your finances during the student life is an enriching experience which helps you both in your personal and professional life.


He handles the serious business of gaming. As COO, Zapak Digital Entertainment, Rohit Sharma feels that like a game one has to chalk out a strategy for success when it comes to financial planning. “At the early stages of the career a person generally doesn’t have a long term view of his investment plans and most investments are done with a short term gain in mind.

I feel it is important to prioritise at an early stage on both immediate and long-term return,” he says. Sharma in the early stage of his career started with investing in long term tools such as insurance. “Also being part of the booming real estate economy I invested in property, whereas most people tend to invest in property at later stages,” he reveals.

He feels that his However my decision to invest in real estate market in NCR at an early stage in his career has given him very high returns. “During my early days as a professional we did not have very successful returns on investments in Mutual funds, but I feel that in the present economy young professionals should invest in mutual funds (with 3-years window) and that get yield high returns,” he adds. Sharma emphasise that the basic thumb rule for investments should be to always stretch yourself more than you actually invest. It always pays in the long run.


It’s all about enjoying life. That’s what Kajal Aijaz, CEO of DT Cinemas learned about handling finances when she was in college. Aijaz believes that managing money is not at all a difficult task if the fun element is attached to it.

The 37 year-old, daughter of an Indian Foreign Services officer, feels that today’s youngsters have wrong notion that fun without money is not possible. “During our college days, I remember we were always short of money. But there was a healthy spirit to enjoy life whatever come may,” she says. An Economics graduate from Jesus & Mary college of Delhi University, she remembers being surrounded by collegiate who used to come in cars and spend on luxuries.

“I used to walk around a lot especially if distances were a few kilometres, a virtue almost missing in today’s youngsters. I always believe that money is not important but fun part is. You should always enjoy whatever work you are doing. If you can do that, earning money won’t be a problem because it teaches you the art of enjoying life,” she says.

For her, budgeting was like learning the art of handling a business. “Majority of the money I spent was on travelling by auto rickshaw. Travelling comfortably was always important. Many a times, I compromised on my food just to make it sure that I travel safely,” she says. Kajal believes that it’s not about being satisfied — one should definitely aspire for more but shouldn’t forget to enjoy the moment.

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