Friday, February 14, 2014

Guest Lecture by Mr. Ashvin Parekh

Continuing the rich tradition of guest lectures by eminent industry professionals; February 14th, 2014 marked one more of such memorable occasions. SIMSREE students were blessed with the presence of a well-known veteran in the field of consulting industry: Mr. Ashvin Parekh. Mr. Parekh is currently working as the Managing Partner - Ashvin Parekh Advisory Services LLP and Sr. Expert - Advisor, Global Financial Services - Ernst & Young Pvt. Ltd.

The distinctive feature in Mr. Parekh’s illustrious career is that he has worked across all four of the “Big Four” consulting firms. He has been a Partner and National Leader at Ernst & Young. He has been the Executive Director of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India from July 2002 till June 2005. He also held senior positions in Arthur Anderson, Price Waterhouse Coopers and KPMG. He is considered as an expert in financial services industry, having worked on gamut of areas like business strategies, corporate planning, institutional strengthening and business transformation across industries including banking, insurance, pension and capital markets. He has also been working closely with the government, having been part of several committees set up by Ministry of Finance, RBI, IRDA and SEBI.

Mr. Parekh made it clear at the start of the session that rather than having a set format for the lecture, he would welcome students asking him various questions and pointing out the topics they would like him to talk about. Students responded with plethora of questions, with topics ranging from financial inclusion, to valuations in mergers and acquisitions.

Mr. Parekh started with his take on the Indian economy, clearly pointing out the differences between pre-2008 and post-2008 situations. He pointed out that between 2003 and 2007, Indian economy grew at a rapid pace and foreign investors were generally positive about India. Post 2008, however, this enthusiasm has largely reduced and investors (FIIs and FDIs) are not very convinced about India’s growth prospects. He cited signs of policy reversal as one of the reasons, pointing out issues like spectrum allocation and retrospective taxation.

He then talked about his experience in the banking sector, having worked as a business adviser with almost all large banks. In 1992, Mr. Parekh was closely involved with the formation of four new private banks, which was a unique experiment at that time. He opined that the experiment was largely a successful one, benefitting customers with product innovation, technology and improved service. However, he did not share the similar views regarding the new banking licenses about to be issued by RBI. He questioned the need for the formation of new banks, and stated that strengthening the present banking system instead was the need of the hour. He also stated problems such as the stringent clauses affecting the viability of the banking business, and the issue of corporate governance coming into picture. Talking about regulation, he strongly advocated Urjit Patel committee report, and the need for the monetary policy to be rule-based.

In the last part of his speech, he explained various career options in the consulting industry and the typical journey in a consulting firm from an Analyst to a Partner level. According to him, the main responsibility of an analyst is to do issue analysis and putting across the solution for the issue and communicate it with the members. Whereas, partner primarily deals with maintaining the inner environment of an organization and keeping the client environment healthy. He also touched upon various challenges faced by consultants in today’s business environment. All in all, the session was a great success and the students were delighted with the kind of knowledge they gained through the session.

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