Invest in The Younger Generation and Get Them Working – Jehaan Ismail | Sunday Observer

Invest in The Younger Generation and Get Them Working – Jehaan Ismail

4 May, 2021

The Daily News Business Online spoke recently to investment banker and the CEO of M Power Capital Jehaan Ismail. He shared some views and insights relevant to the state of the finance sector, how pandemic proof the sector had become and the importance of investing in the younger generation, arming them with knowledge and a good work ethic.

How has your role been so far as an Investment banker and would you care to share your journey?

I started as a commercial banker undertaking multiple roles from trade to cooperate banking and was also actively engaged in projects involving commercial and latterly investment banking. My banking career took me to different countries and different roles, including HSBC’s investment bank in Saudi Arabia.

My 16-year journey in Investment banking started in 2004 and continued after I returned to Sri Lanka where I joined a leading investment bank as its CEO.

Since you started as a banker, how has the banking sector changed?

In my formative years as a banker, there was a much personalised customer-banker relationship where we often provided bespoke solutions to customers. That has changed today given the advent of financial crime and other cross border compliance issues. Advancement in technology and digitalisation has made banking easier for customers but has also created a very impersonal banking sector.

In the 1980s and 90s, banks were very patriarchal and rigid and a banking career was usually cradle to grave. It is very different in today’s setting where staff attrition rates are high and there is a growing demand for knowledge in end to end technology.

How do you see yourself as a contributor to the transformation of the Finance Sector?

After graduating from the Charted Institute of Bankers and starting to teach banking, I did a lot of presentations for young bankers and I was a trainer for two years at HSBC, where I had the opportunity to travel as well as share and gain knowledge from a large international audience.

I thoroughly enjoy mentoring and Human Resource management is something very natural to me.

You continue as a banker but in your leisure time your friends know you as a Golf enthusiast and as of recent the captain of the RCGC; would you care to share with our readers as to how you strike a balance between work & play?

I believe that doing what you like doing is important, and I am at a stage where I have a team that is more than capable of handling the work. Even when I was working to a routine back in the old days, I made sure I had time to do other things which included family and friends.

Golf is a very good sport to make connections given the relatively long duration of a round. This allows you to get to know the person and gradually over the years, trust is built on the golf course and outside.

The Royal Colombo Golf Club (RCGC) is one of the oldest golf clubs in the world and a great venue for this demanding sport.

We do not have enough golf courses in the country, especially for tourists and we need to seriously think of development here. Further, golf is considered a luxury sport in Asia and that is why we have begun to actively assist underprivileged kids to play and discover their talent.

As the CEO of M Power Capital, what is your vision for the company and its role played in the investment banking sector?

Having worked in the corporate world for nearly 30 years, it was time to get into an entrepreneurship role and that is why a few close friends and I founded M Power Capital a few years ago. My idea was to engage with young people and get them working in the field. Let the young people work and expand their wisdom, whilst we old boys oversee the overall strategy and direction of the company.

I believe young people should earn as well as learn through the multitude of things that they are engaged in and it is a great source of satisfaction when you see your colleagues doing well.

M Power Capital is a small venture in the investment banking sector, which is steadily growing in Sri Lanka. The Colombo and Kandy based corporate finance, investment advisory and private equity entity caters to various customer segments through various personalised solutions.

How has the finance sector changed in the last year and how pandemic proof is the sector right now?

I think there are a few changes for the good, and one such change is that we are able to do most of the work remotely. The banking sector has eliminated or at least considerably reduced a very important facet, and that is ‘meetings’. Many meetings sometimes go on endlessly and in my opinion, a waste of everybody’s time. I believe the best and most productive meetings are between two people.

A lot of banking can be fulfilled online; you don’t have to physically go to a bank to get things done. I think in an overall sense, the banking sector has adapted well and is pandemic proof.

How would you advise investors to manage this market change during this period?

There are complaints about interest rates being low, but gradually interest rates will go up as rates cannot be kept low in an inflationary environment. In the next six months to one year, there will be an increase in interest rates.

The economy is recovering, albeit slowly. Everyone is working hard to make things happen and tourism will also start gaining upward momentum. There is a near 4% growth in the economy but I predict it could rise by another 100 basis points if we can control Covid19.

We are still a small economy, globally. What is not accounted for is that people have the potential to work a lot harder in this country and we have been taking it too easy. Sometimes, even I am not sure whether this “island mentality” is a good or a bad thing!