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You Don't Mess With The FinMan (Part One)

Part One - The Others

Round One: The Chairman
"Welcome, Gentlemen!" The Chairman was addressing the meeting of the Board and the Department heads.

At 80, he still had loads of energy and spunk. A compulsive flirt with anything feminine, he was loyal like a dog to his wife. He remained so till the death of his wife. Once. Or till they were divorced. Twice. Rumour had it that he was hitting on the wife one of the Director of another group Company.

His sons have no control over him. And he has no control over any of his three sons. He almost 20 years back, around the time of death of his first wife, had segregated his 30 Plus businesses into three and handed over to his sons. He retained absolute control over only two Companies, primarily to keep him engaged and active in the business.

And another rumour had it that he was holding these two companies to attract attention. Another rumour had it that, these two companies were for the child he had through his erstwhile secretary, who had suddenly vanished, and appeared in Manali four years later, with considerable wealth.

And each of those thoughts were going through all the members present at the meeting. They also suspected that, of late, he has turned senile.

They were all looking at him. He slid his hands into his trouser pocket. Took out a pack of Marlbro and extracted one cigarette out of it, and placed it on his lips. He searched for the lighter in his packet couldn't find it. He looked around, and found one visible in the Director's pocket sitting on his right. He went near, and took it out, lighted his cigarette, and returned it saying "Thanks!".

"Huhhhhh......  Foooo..." He was puffing away for a few moments with his eyes closed. Couple of puffs later, he opened his eyes and declared, "Gentlemen, Lets get started." Saying he slid the Marlbro pack across the table. "Don't hesitate. Have one. If you want more, I'll get it for you. I have my box full of it. Benefits of being single."

Couple of Directors took a stick and lighted their cigarette and were ready for the next activity. The Chairman had pressed the buzzer, and in came a tray full of liquor for all the participants. The next twenty minutes were spent discussing the finer aspects of each and every brand of liquor.

"Why are you not having any of these? Don't worry. I won't sack you for non-performance. That is if there is any actual performance possible by you guys." The Chairman was asking the serious looking man, sitting second on his left. The entire room erupted in laughter.

He was the Finance guy.

"Why do we have you? No sales. No employee interaction. No production activity. No customer activity. Not a rupee earned. And now, no puffs and no huffs." The Chairman was puffing and talking at the same time. He had his refill of wine and continued "No productive activity. No productivity. None whatsoever. But you still have a son. How?" There was laughter again.

The Chairman, looked at him, "You should have a pint of drink some time, son. That would make you a bit more interesting to your wife. A pint more would make you more interesting to us as well!" That demanded another bout of laughter. And he declared, "Lets start our meeting. The agenda is primarily performance review of various department." He looked at the Finance Guy. "Knowing very well, some people cannot actually participate in this discussion. Lets get started with the Production Manager"

End of Round One: Finance Guy 0 vs. Others 1

Round Two: The Production Manager
A man in mid forties rose, and started addressing all his colleagues and his Chairman for giving him an opportunity to talk in this meeting. After the customary introduction, he was running a slideshow to highlight the importance of his department, and was discussing some numbers and performance.
"In the last quarter, my dear friends, and dear Chairman Sir, as the Production Manager, my policies have improved the productivity. From a daily production and processing of approximately 18 tonnes, we have now progressed to more than 19.5 tonne. And by the end of this month, should be touching 20 tonnes level. And that's an improvement of almost 8% Month on Month, and an annualized 100%. The utilisation of the plant is now at 98%, and if I have my way, I should be able to increase the capacity, without actually spending on increasing the infrastructure.

"Part of the increase is due to rescheduling of our production lines. Part due to alternative energy management. ...." He was talking for almost 25 minutes. 25 Minutes full of "HIS" policies, power point presentations, graphs and charts, all of which were rising into the future.

"And that, my fellow Board Members would help us accomplish our Chairman's object of having 7800 Crores as our revenue by the end of next fiscal. And, let us remember, no Company grows without having proper production system in place."

There were claps. And more claps. "Fantastic! Fantastic! Now this is performance. Now this is what I want. Having said that, I would like to tell our Production Head that, there are other Department Heads, who are yet to speak. Who may have outshined our friends at Production Department. But still, we all know one department, who would not have ..." It was the Chairman, and therefore, every body were under the obligation to look at the Finance Man and laugh out loud.

End of Round Two: Finance Guy 0 vs. Others 2

Round Three: The Purchase Manager
Couple of minutes of obligatory expression of gratitude later, the Purchase Manager was literally dancing across the screen pointing to various maps and statistics.

"..... and this quarter, precisely this quarter, when all our competitors are procuring scrap steel, washers, valves at rocket high prices, our purchase cost has actually gone down by 50 basis points! And that in rupee terms is an improvement of over rupees nine crores. And that is only on purchase cost. Streamlining of the procurement process has resulted in savings in man power cost as well. And the cumulative impact of all these measures on the bottom line is that the Company stands to gain additionally by around 20 to 22 crore rupees this fiscal."

Everybody once again clapped.Just when the Purchase Manager was about to sit down, he added one more point, "I am sure, the Finance Head would also appreciate the fact that this month his work has also come down, now that the number of purchases has come down by almost 30%. So 30% less transactions to be recorded."
"Really? That's news to me." It was the Chairman.
"Sir? Yes. The number of purchases has infact reduced." The Purchase Manager asked.
"No. No. I was asking about your observation. That our friend's work has come down. I never knew he worked in the first place." And the ritual of clapping continued.

End of Round Three: Finance Guy 0 vs. Others 3

Round Four: The Marketing Manager
".... The single biggest accomplishment this period has been getting the much needed break in the sponsorship of cricketing events organized in India by none other than the BCCI! We have also managed foray aggressively into promoting through the visual media. Most notably we have managed to sponsor full day television programmes, fully day radio programmes, corporate events organized by the FICCI and the like. The net result has been that we have had more enquiries into our products and operations, which I am sure would have been capitalized by our good friend, the Sales Head, and I firmly believe he has translated and converted all these enquiries leading to improvements in the turnover..." 
"That was good. You were honest, humble and forthright. And I appreciate that. And more importantly, you didn't bore me with any statistics. You have conveyed all the important events." The Chairman was speaking his mind. "But, my dear friend, and thats a big butt, our Sales Head is yet to present his side." Another round of laughter, on Chairman's double meaning statements. The Sales Head, truly had a large but, and he was a chairful person.

End of Round Four: Finance Guy 0 vs. Others 4

Round Five: The Sales Manager
"If you can't sell. You can't do business. As somebody rightly said, only the person who has mastered the art of selling, has learnt the art of living......"

And the sermon on importance of sales continued. There were couple of silent yawns. The usual slides continued. The anecdotes followed. Instead of the regular power point presentation, it was all flash this time around. There were lot of gesticulations. It was typical sales talk.

".... and to the most important part, the impact of the revised policies on the bottom line. See, ultimately, it is the sales that really drives the bottom line. I admit, it is a talent to market your products. Everybody does. Then what differentiates the successful company from the not so successful ones? Yeah? It is the sales. Without a proper sales team, the efforts of marketing team would be nullified. And please remember, marketing men don't do sales. But sales men do marketing as well! Often it is the ability of the sales team that really repeats the sale once again. Which means, with a proper sales team, you don't actually need a marketing team", and turning to the Marketing Head, "No offence, mate! But fact is a fact.

"Just imagine you make all the production, but there are no takers. Now what? So, it effectively translates as thus. Without a sales team, marketing has no value. There will not be any job for our production manager. Without any production, what is the role for purchase department?

"Coming to the performance part, this quarter, this three months, there has been an tremendous improvement in sales. And we are looking at 12% improvement in sales! We have ventured into new markets. And incremental sales would result in more than proportionate improvement in profits. And my friend from the Finance Department will concur with me. With an improvement in sales, and the PV ratio being constant, the profits will eventually improve..."
"I like that. I really like that." It was the Chairman. And turning to the Finance Head "See Mr. Pokerface, we Engineers also learn accounting."
"You said it sir." It was the sales guy. "Our knowledge of accounting is far better than the Finance people's understanding of Engineering. We also know that credit is income and debit is loss. And credit for the correct department should always be given. And whichever department is a debit, should also be known. No offence to you, mate."
The Finance Head just smiled and didn't react.

End of Round Five: Finance Guy 0 vs. Others 5

Round Six: The Human Resource Manager
"..... I am not here to run down anybody. But, I am here to assert the significance of the HR Department's contribution. In the pursuit of improved bottomline, one shouldn't lose sight of the contribution of the HR policies. Without a proper HR policy, there wouldn't be any happy employees. Without any happy employee, there wouldn't be any sales in the first place.

"The most significant development from the HR perspective in the period under consideration has been the modification of the payroll package, and revising the incentive plans. This was done in line with our earlier discussion on the same, which was again based on the proposals I had put forward earlier. The revised policies have basically ensured that there has been an average improvement in employee's contribution per month. At the same time, it has also ensured that the average cost per employee is maintained at the same level...."

"Great work! Great work! I like the improvement in efficiency of the employees part. Even the dour department of HR has something to contribute. I am proud of you my boy. I am really really proud of you." The Chairman always rants a lot the good work of HR Department. "Of all the people here, I can understand your contribution more than anybody. For, I did my masters in Labour Relationships. Now that all the performing departments have spoken, let us turn our attention to the Finance Department and our Finance Man. Though practically, the meeting is over, ritual demands that we listen to his accounting related discussion."

End of Round Six: Finance Guy 0 vs. Others 6

The Accounts and Finance Manager
"First things first. We are accountants first. Finance people next. What is our contribution? Do we make atleast one sale? No. We don't. Do we retain atleast one employee? No. We don't. Can we produce one thing? Answer to that also is no. What we are capable of doing is, speaking the truth."
"You mean Satyam kind of truth." It was the Chairman and the Sales Head together.
"Yeah.... Sir. That kind of truth as well. And some other kind, which some of our friends may not actually like knowing."
"Really? Let's see. Carry on. But no sermons please. Stick to facts."
"Right. My role is to state the fact that is very very important to you sir. I cannot state anything new. All I will do is put the facts presented by various Department Heads in a different perspective, which has been conveniently omitted. It's my turn now."
End of Part One. [To be continued..]

Part Two = The Accountant's Turn

[Note: Inspired from the real experience of a Finance Head of a Group of Companies, based out of Chennai]


Sundararaman said…
Cant wait for the Finance guy's explanation .. As early as possible sir. Please.
G Saimukundhan said…
I will post it pretty soon. Won't delay like the History of Crushes (Part 2 of which btw is complete).

The post was too long, and hence had to split. Only two more responses to be added.

Krishna said…
Wow!! If this was a real life incident, the Finance Guy must be an equivalent of a Superstar (no sarcasm intended).
G Saimukundhan said…

It isn't 100% real or true. I don't think it is more than 50% true. It is just a fictionalized account of what I came across long back.

I have exaggerated the negative impact of Production, Purchases and Sales policies. I was told that these board room jibes are pretty much happening everywhere, though at a much subtle level. All those people were cut down to size by the CA (The Finance Head) on these lines, I just made up the numbers at extreme levels.

HR Department and Marketing Department, I just made up those assertions and arguments.

The real world CA (must be around 52 or 53 now), was the only one of the Directors who had later become VP of the Group (IIRC). Funnily, he was a reluctant accountant. He didn't like Accountancy / Finance at all. He shared this experience when I had just completed my CA.

To me, he definitely is a superman, though he didn't actually disprove the other people's assertions to this extent.

JRSD said…
When people value their status/ qualification seriously (E.g CA), it reflects in a positive manner in their work. E.g Oz and the baggy green!

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