Wednesday, December 27, 2000

The spirit of enterprise

When you get in touch with the spirit, you will be able to take greater risk and turn resources into wealth.
Gautam Chikermane
Nainam chindanti sastrani; nainam dahati pavakah;
na cainam kledayantyapo; na sosayati marutah
No weapon can pierce the soul; no fire can burn it;
no water can moisten it; nor can any wind wither it.
–Bhagawad Gita, Chapter II, Verse 23
If it’s a comfortable retirement or a home in the hills you’re looking for, you could manage it with your monthly pay cheques. Invest money in diversified financial instruments, ranging from the plain-vanilla, risk-free schemes from the post office like public provident fund (it currently yields 11 per cent) to medium-risk instruments like an index fund (a mutual fund that mirrors a stock market index, like the Sensex or the Nifty, which could give you 18 per cent). You could also look at putting some of your money into high-risk sector funds or directly in stocks (25 to 30 per cent).
But if it’s wealth you want to create, the raw material is risk, the process is entrepreneurship. The highest investment and financial risk is taken by entrepreneurs, a breed of people that is virtually impossible to define (Peter Drucker’s 1993 masterpiece Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Practice and Principles is the best treatise on this subject). As a group, they use and optimise the physical, financial and human resources of a society. When they succeed, they become the leading wealth creators of a country. When they fail, they lose their investment–and that’s their risk: the risk of venturing into new, uncharted territory or looking at old businesses in new ways.
Opinion in Outlook Money

Wednesday, December 13, 2000

The race for intangibles

The day accountants calculate intangibles accurately, investors will give them a standing ovation.
Gautam Chikermane
"May I speak to Mr Gautam"
Yes, this is Gautam.
"I read your article No future in accounts. It was the worst article I’ve ever read! It shows our profession in bad light. Besides, there are many things that are untrue, inaccurate and written with vested interests in mind."
Vested interest? He had my attention. I’m used to angry calls from readers, but never has anyone accused Intelligent Investor of harbouring vested interests. Who’s?
THIS READER, an accountant with one of India’s leading firms, went on like this for some time. Meanwhile, I was bombarded with similar sentiments on e-mail and through letters (To read a representative sample of these responses, follow this link). The article was written to illustrate how accountants, who are best placed to work out the value of intangibles in a business (intellectual capital, brands, franchisees, and so on), are the least concerned about valuing it, and warned them that if they continued their innovation-free practice, they would become redundant. For lack of space I had omitted an important point: that Indian minds are among the best in the world and I have full confidence that if intangibles have to be valued, an Indian has a great chance of doing it. Wake up, my accountant-countrymen, put your minds to this global problem, and help the rest of us calculate wealth more efficiently.
Opinion in Outlook Money