Wednesday, August 15, 2001

UTI is... UTI is not... UTI is...

More than bad management or low returns, the problem at UTI is a structure that encourages corruption.
Gautam Chikermane
DESPITE ALL claims and actions to the contrary, in its functioning, in its structure, in its very reason for existence, the Unit Trust of India (UTI) is, quite simply, a mutual fund–a medium not only for saving money but equally to create wealth and meet life’s major financial objectives. There are seven main characteristics that make a mutual fund. Had UTI adhered to them, the current crisis would have only been one of bad fund management or low returns–a problem not entirely restricted to UTI. These seven points are why mutual funds are the best investment vehicles, not only in India but across the world. In my opinion, in five of these, UTI scores ‘Poor’, in two it scores ‘Fair’. Overall score: Poor.
Professional management. When an asset management scheme (AMC) floats a scheme, it brings into the product a few of the top minds in the field of finance. These are experienced and skilled professionals whose job is to research companies, analyse industries, crunch numbers, evaluate the future, observe stock prices, interest rates, currency fluctuations and so on. They then match these analyses with the objective of the investors. Only after this rigorous exercise do these professionals buy stocks, bonds or gilts. So, for a small fee, you get the services of these professionals, services that would otherwise be impossible for you to avail of. UTI’s score: Poor. Due to its large holdings, the skills of fund managers have not been allowed to develop, as they are prisoners of inter-scheme transfers (a fund on which there is redemption pressure sells to one which new investors are buying). Besides, research took a backseat in the past few years, as investigations reveal.
Opinion in Outlook Money

Wednesday, August 1, 2001

The Essential Drucker

An essential, but incomplete, compendium from the mahatma of management.
Gautam Chikermane
AS I eagerly await Peter Drucker’s next book (the last one, Management Challenges for the 21st Century, was published in 1999), all I get are compendiums–Peter Drucker on the Profession of Management (1998) and, now, The Essential Drucker. No one’s complaining–be it a book, an article, a collection or a speech, there is always a freshness and a deep insight into everything this mahatma of management touches. Even in his early-90s, Drucker is, in a sense, much younger than many young writers (including myself), and more open, more incisive than all of us.
This collection–put together by Drucker himself–is essential, but incomplete. Essential writings on management, the individual and society include masterpieces drawn from his 30 books in a 60-year-long career. So, we have The Information Executives Need Today, a must for all leaders; Picking People: The Basic Rules, a must for every manager; and The Second Half of Your Life, a must for everyone. It is incomplete because it is my firm opinion that Drucker can’t be sliced: in every book, he takes up a theme and expands on it in great detail, and surgical procedures don't do justice to that theme or his handling of it. How, for instance, can you encapsulate the vastness of his 1985 classic Innovation and Entrepreneurship in five small excerpts?
Book review in Outlook Money