Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What work do you do?

A couple of days back, my 11 year old cousin sent me an email, and among other things like how he was enjoying his summer vacation he asked me what work do i do in London. How the hell do i explain it to him, when my parents dont understand, his parents dont understand, (well he could be and most probably is smarter and more aware than his and my parents, they definitely didnt know much about email when they were 11)

Dunno why though. This question keeps haunting me, and I try running away from it.
The first is how do i describe what i do for a living.
When i was working in L&T and i told my dad i am in project management. He simply went around telling my son designs chemical plants. (when i only saw that the pipes to be delivered from haryana to kuwait were not on schedule)

Then now when i said to my parents, I am joining an investment bank, they first thought i wasa glorified teller in a retail banlike in the local bank of baroda. My Maternal grandma also advised me when customers hand in cash better count it carefully.
My dad thought since i am in debt markets the fixed income side, it might be dealing with giving big size loans to corporates, and my mum thought since it says rates structuring, i am the superwhiz guy who decides what is the rate to lend the money. My sis being the smartest person in the family (if you didnt know till now, im the dumbest) she doesnt even care about my existence, leave alone my employment details as long as i am not asking her for money, she really isnt bothered. Well my parents dont invest in the stock market, cause (a) they dont understand how it works (like 90% of retail indian investors) (b) they get scared of losing a dime their poor souls couldnt stand the volatility.

Most of my other relatives dont care what job i do but how much money do i make. And making the mistake of converting the British pound salary in indian rupees, and saying ohh my god, what will you do with so much money. I reply with a straight face, Pay rent, buy food, and little bit of entertainment like a pitcher of beer on weekends, and i guess i might be left with pocket change after each month. (and damn its true after the first month atleast) . And then they complain how the hell can a 24 year old be paid so much. Or damn how the hell can any one be paid so much (Please i say, im not some super rich guy, im being paid in a different currency, and Purchase Power Parity is not a concept they are ever going to understand.

Anyways coming to how much money one makes, Jack Welch had said that the Wall Street is defintiely the place where a lot of average people make a lot more money than they deserve. (Though i am not situated at the Wall Street, but work in a Wall Street firm, I seriously hoep its true) I guess in terms of income as a ratio to ability it only comes 2nd to Hollywood.

I distinctly remember some one had told me, "The way to make more money, is to somehow give happiness to more number of people" The person was Mr. Sanghvi, a Gujarati business man and owner of a firm which did piping design for firms like reliance, and was teaching piping design as a visiting faculty.

The example he gave was:
Why does HLL employee earn more, as he brings happiness to all those who consume its products.

Why does Dhirubhai Ambani of reliance make more money?
He made Vimal textiles affordable to the masses. By Petrochemicals he is indirectly supplying to our daily needs (fuels, plastics, exports raw materials for textiles thus clothes the world)

So i figured why do indian cricketers earn more than badminton, hockey or table tennis players? Since more people watch these sports. More people gain happiness from cricket victories than those in snooker and badminton and thus sponsors are willing to pay cricketers more.

Same explains why do less talented authors who write in english earn more than others (since you have a wider audience)

Why do engineers earn more than history professors (by building products which make more people happy ... and not troubling poor souls by terrorising history exams)

but then why do soccer players in bengal dont make as much money as American Football players? Simple Purchasing power of those people whom you make happy. An average bengali is communist and is not going to buy any of those useless products advetisers are trying to sell, apart from Goldflake cigarettes sold by ITC. So who cares about soccer players in Bengal while European footballers earn huge amounts.
Mr. Sanghavi you were right, but just this little tweek of weighing number of people with purchasing power.

Let me apply this to my profession as a guy working to create structured fixed income products. (aha i am explaining what i do for a living)
My team (and me as a small part of it) look at the financial markets, to find what is cheap, and what expensive. From this we create complicated products where we buy low and sell high, and show these trade ideas to clients (people with money to invest) and hopefully make more money for them. So I make them happy. these are pension funds and hedge funds, and thus if they do well their investors feel happy. And though these might not be many, Damn you add the weightage of earning power, and Lo and behold the numbers go up. And boy it does go up by a very big amount. So a make a few REALLY RICH GUYS HAPPY, and i make some decent money.

Wow, man Mr Sanghavi himself is a really smart man. NOw doubt he is damn rich. (Ok he drove a fantastic big car) Since his firm designed pipes, which ensured that the chemical plants keep functioning well and churn out more chemicals and make more products which affect our day to day lives and make manyu many people happy (Shampoos, soaps, plastics, ... )

But then Damn

Every one hates politicains, and those guys seem to make the most money.
No way do these bring happiness. They Raise taxes, have stupid policies, dont give any services and simply eat a lot of money.

Damn Mr. Sanghavi, your theory doesnt seem to work here. [:)]


FiNK said...

hey whats up? good luck with working in London.. it's such a fantastic city.. I hope that you enjoy it! I get your bit about parents not understanding what you do.. I've tried it so many times.. now my standard line is.. I just try to understand the consumer..the average person! newayz, good luck with the billions scheme and hope that you find happiness in what u do (god im getting old and cheesy now =) )

Navneet Sharma said...

So, what do you do?

nirav said...

@ FiNK
Nopes guess we all get cheesy and old.
And this is some dilemma all of us keep facing, (dont know though about the parents, they might find it much more embarassing about appearing ignorant in front of their own children)

nirav said...

@ Navneet

Damn *%)^$%#^%&
I do something in the world of finance. Some calculations and all :P

Is that explanatory enough