Education Article #4: For the Joy of Sharing

Financial and Budgeting Skills I Learnt From My MoM

By Oliver Sequeira
Senior Management BFSI experience across Sales, BD, Operations and Customer Service

Foreword by Venkat
This sweet and beautiful article by Oliver reminds me of pollination and seed dispersal in Botany. From a fruit comes a seed and from the seed grows a tree with many fruits. Likewise, from experience comes new learning and from the learning comes new experience. While some lessons grow us into new areas, others grow us deeper in the same domain. Skills in finance and teaching fall in the second category growing us deeper with every experience. For mothers (especially of the generation where Oliver and myself belong) who used to deal with local grocery vendors, hawkers and shopkeepers literally everyday, the knowledge and experience in home finance was undoubtedly rich and deep. It is so wonderful to see the core principles of savings, budgeting, negotiation, upselling, cross-selling, goodwill and trust from Oliver’s “MoM” learnt early in his life have made him a fine financial advisor and successful in his financial career.

Enjoy the lovely recollection of lessons from Oliver’s memories of his mother on her birthday which he began to write on the International Mothers’ day. A touching tribute to all mothers indeed!


Hi, this is Oliver Sequeira. I started my career in 1991 and worked with Banks, NBFCs, IT, Insurance and Real Estate companies for close to 3 decades. Brands I was associated with were ICICI, ABN Amro, L&T, ING and a few others. At ING, where I spent 13 years of my career, I had the opportunity of leading the country-wide Sales Operations and Customer Service teams.

I began my personal investing journey when I was 19 where I invested my entire first year’s income in 1 stock. Thanks to some early advice from my dad and a disciplined journey, I could earn my F.I.R.E. (Financially Independent and Retired Early) status well before I was 40 years. During the last few years I have been an angel investor apart from helping my clients on their journey towards wealth creation and earning a F.I.R.E status. My profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/oliver-sequeira-233b295


Financial and Budgeting Skills I Learnt From My MoM

Today, the 20th May 2022, while I create this article is also my MoM’s birthday. She would have been 75 years today, however left us a year and half back to a better place. I wanted this article to appear on 8th May which is celebrated as International Mothers day, however I later thought 20th May is more appropriate in her memory. Mothers as we all know are genuinely gifted by the almighty in financial and budgeting aspects. Each of us will have some pleasant memories of having grown up to their thrifty and smart money management skill which helped me in creating the acronym MoM to mean Managers of Money.

In my previous article, while I had credited my Dad’s initial influence on helping me start investing when I was just 18 years and helped me attain F.I.R.E. (Financial Independence and Retire Early) status at just 38 years, it was the on ground experience with my MoM which paved the way for savings and budgeting which is an important starting point before one begins their investment journey. Its no wonder that financial gurus coined the term MoM which in the financial parlance means Multiple of Money. For those who are unaware of this important term in financial management, it is referred to as the cash-on-cash return or multiple of invested capital (MOIC), basically the multiple of money (MoM) is one of the most widely used metrics for measuring the return on an investment as well as tracking the performance of a fund.

Having set the context on how MoMs directly or indirectly influence our behavior towards money management, let me now share my personal learnings from my MoM:

Savings

Like most mothers, my MoM also saved every paise (yes those days we could start saving from as low as 5 and 10 paise) by storing them in boxes which were neatly tucked away out of reach till she required to spend on some yearly short term goals like clothes for us, curtains for the house, gifts for Christmas etc. The question is where would a home maker get this surplus from. Trust me it would come from small acts like selling old newspaper, magazines etc. and later in her life by giving tuitions too. This behavior of hers also influenced me to save whenever I had an opportunity later in life.

Budgeting

MoM was always conscious of the annual budget and would regularly convert the small denomination of coins and notes saved into larger notes and place them neatly in envelopes which would then get into our Godrej locker for the larger annual spends. She also ensured she had an envelope in the kitchen which had sufficient funds for the monthly expenses like electricity bill, society charges, groceries etc.

Negotiating Skills

Amongst the siblings, being the eldest I had the privilege of tagging along with MoM for all types of shopping (off course the motivation for a foodie was that most of them ended with gorging on some snacks and juices). During these trips, I learnt the art of negotiating which earned me the reputation of being a skilled negotiator even in my corporate life. Be it the vegetable vendor or the saree shop she spared no one (once again I am sure it’s with most of the MoMs). She would start by negotiating with the price. If they didn’t budge, she would ask for something extra. Even if that didn’t work, she taught me the art of slowly walking away and keeping our ears glued to the hawker or sales guy who invariably would call us back and offer something better than his last offer. Now someone may ask, what has negotiations got to do with savings? It’s finally nothing but “a penny saved is a penny earned”.

Introduction to upselling and cross selling

The earliest sales lesson I learnt was during my visits with her to the saree shops. She would ask me to observe how the saree salesman (most of them had studied max up to their 8th grade). He would make us very comfortable, ensure we have a proper place to sit, address MoM as Didi/Bhabhi (elder sister/sister in law), ensure there was an uninterrupted supply of chai (tea) till we refused and now comes the most interesting part. Once MoM shared her budget, he would start by showing sarees 5 times the budget value and slowly start coming down to her budget. All this while he would never reveal the price and even if she asked, the reply would be “didi aap pehle dekh toh lo” (sister don’t bother of the price but just have a look first). However thrifty MoM was, very rarely I saw her manage to stay with her budget and landed up buying a minimum 40-50% costlier. The salesman would then also pitch other accessories to go with the saree showcasing how beautiful they look with the chosen saree. The reason I am sharing this in an investment related article is because these ground level experiences ensured that I always excelled in relationship building, having tremendous patience in a sales lifecycle and most importantly ensuring that I did not miss an opportunity to cross/up sell to my clients, thereby ensuring always leading my teams at work to be always in the top quartile performer and incentive earner.

Goodwill and Trust

Even before I reached my early teens, MoM would ask me to run local errands like visit the local market to buy fruits, vegetables etc. By this time I was well versed with my negotiation skills and the local hawkers would joke with their hawker friends nearby saying bhabhi ne ladke ko acha sikhaya (his mother has taught him well). For me buying a dozen bananas would always mean 13 and not 12 (only years later did I know there was a term coined bakers dozen), buying lime or coriander/mint would mean free ginger/chillies. There were times I would return back forgetting some items and she would send me back again without any cash and ask me to inform the hawker that either she or me will pay him tomorrow. She explained to me that they would give me something only if they trusted us and by us ensuring we paid them without fail the next day further enhanced our goodwill. This was an important result especially as one grows up in the corporate hierarchy coz with trust and goodwill also comes higher roles and responsibilities, remuneration etc. leading to higher savings and investments.

While there are plenty of other interesting incidents, keeping to the length as an article I will keep it short for now. I am sure all readers here would have some interesting lessons they have learnt from their parents especially their MoMs. If you are keen to share them, please do so at oliversequeira@gmail.com

Till next time….Cheers!

By Oliver Sequeira
Senior Management BFSI experience across Sales, BD, Operations and Customer Service


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J Vaidhinathanj
J Vaidhinathanj
May 22, 2022 6:42 am

Wonderfully down to earth article to learn from mother’s…well coined MOM. Yes, my wife has it in plenty of the negotiating skill, so much so, I am afraid of purchasing anything for myself, as I may, unknowingly, pay double the cost or the quality of purchase is poorer from her standards. Excellent write-up. Compliments aplenty to Mr Oliver