Friday, April 5, 2013

Interview : Akhil Khanna

Akhil Khanna an MBA with specialization in the field of Financial Management from the University of Sheffield (U.K.), wanted to make the financial world a little more accessible to the common man and his attempt led to the book 'Let's Talk About Money' (reviewed here). 

Here is a brief e-interview that I conducted with him for the readers of Literary Sojourn.

1.     What all led to the writing of the book?

 In the year 2007, I was handed over the responsibility of managing the family portfolio of investments. I found that most people belonging to the middle income group invested in some asset class based on either recommendation of their friends and relatives or based on advice of the experts in the media. Following this investment method, a large no. of them lost a substantial portion of their savings after a period of few years. This led me to research about the reasons why an investor should invest in a particular asset class. My research led me to believe that a global financial crisis was brewing, which was likely to affect almost every human life on earth. I started writing articles on Global Financial Crisis in 2009 which were published on the net and were well received by the readers.

I realized that people can better manage their savings if they understood money in a simplified manner without the fancy jargon thrown at them. Moreover if the middle class of the society were shown the bigger economic picture with logical reasoning, they would be in a position to take judicious decisions as to the level of risk they would like to expose their savings. The response to my articles gave me the confidence to write this book which explains money management to a non finance person using illustrations which they can relate to in their day to day lives. This book identifies and evaluates various investment options and tries to logically link the effect of the ongoing Global Financial Crises on these investments.

2.     Do you think you have been able to achieve what you wanted to through this book?

 I think I have been able to achieve my objective because I believe that if anyone older than a high school student from any profession like lawyer, doctor, engineer etc takes out time to read the book “Let’s Talk Money”, he/she will be able to manage the individual savings in a better manner and enjoy a better standard of living in the long run.

3.     What do you think is the major hurdle for a layman to understand the financial system?

 There are two hurdles that prevent an investor from understanding the financial system, one is procrastination and the other is the belief that someone else out there in the world will make my life better or is actually interested in making me rich. Every investor has to realize that no one is more interested in your financial well being than you yourself and for that you have to devote time and effort to understand money and the rules of the game as they exist today and change from time to time.

4.     How much expertise is required in managing one's own money?

 The only thing required to manage one’s money is the intention and willingness to do so. The whole financial system is much simpler than it is made out to be. We have to keep in mind that a normal investor is not out to become a financial wizard but is looking for enough information that helps one to broadly decide the level of risk one wants to take with the savings. Such a call can only be taken when an individual knows the level of risks associated with the different investment alternatives available. Moreover an understanding of the overall economy is important because there is no investment strategy that works at all times and it is necessary to change investments in response to the changes in the financial environment.

5.     What are the two mantras that every individual should keep in mind with regard to money and its management?

I agree with Will Smiths quote that summarizes todays thought process about money
“Too many people spend money they haven't earned to buy things they don't want to impress people they don't like. 
The two mantas that can help an investor with regards to investment is :
  • Never put your money in anything that you do not understand. If you badly want to put your money in it, take out time and effort to understand it first.
  • If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
6.     What next after 'Let's Talk Money'? In the world of sequels, do you plan to write one too?

My main aim regarding Lets Talk Money was to simplify the basics of investing and the explanation of the ongoing Global Financial Crises to a normal investor as I believe that this unstable financial environment is going to be with us for the foreseeable future. Moreover the inherent weakness in the political systems and democracy prevalent today is likely to ensure that this crisis gets much worse before it gets better. I have tried to assign logical reasoning and highlight the key issues which led me to my conclusions.  The sequel of Lets Talk Money is only likely if there is a change in the way the global central bankers and politicians tackle the ongoing crisis. Till then all the likely outcomes that I can think of are already covered in this book.

7.     How easy/difficult was it to get your book published? What were the challenges that you faced in the whole process?

This is my first attempt to write a book. A new author is rarely backed by established publishing houses. My manuscript was turned away by a no. of publishing houses because it is a non fiction book and not a topic of mass appeal. I am grateful to Times Group Books for the confidence they placed in my manuscript and their willingness to publish it.  I had made up my mind that in the worst case scenario I would go ahead and publish the book on my own as my intention to bring financial literacy to the middle class non financial background was bigger than the profit or loss made in publishing the book. 


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