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'Golf Swings And Money Sutras', A Finance Book approached As Step By Step Guide For Golden Retirement - An Interview With Author, Col Sanjeev Govila (Retd)

The three main characters in the book and Golf swings were thought to make the title of the book and the book itself more appealing

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Retd Col Sanjeev Govila

Welfare Foundation, for educating children of deceased Jawans’ families who have fallen on hard times.

Tell us a little about yourself and why you have written the book ‘Golf Swings and Money Sutras’? Also enlighten us on the name story of your book.

I took Premature Retirement (VRS in corporate parlance) in 2010, after being in the Indian Army for 27 years, to pursue my passion of financial advisory. With the aim of giving back to my fauji community as also doing something which was sorely required in my community, I have restricted my company’s (Hum Fauji Initiatives) clientele exclusively to armed forces officers and their close family members. We are now one of the largest, fastest growing and nationally recognized personal finance companies catering to more than 3300+ armed forces families. 

Such a book was very much required for the fauji community since there was nothing available in the personal finance space that catered to their peculiar requirements. Considering the fact that Golf is a very popular personal sport amongst the armed forces officers, I thought the narrative around Golf would resonate better.  I did not want my readers to feel that they were being ‘coached’ on the subject of personal finance, which is perceived to be a ‘dry’ topic.  So the narrative, the three main characters in the book and Golf swings were thought to make the title of the book and the book itself more appealing.

When was your ‘a-ha’ moment? The moment you knew you wanted to write a book?

There was no sudden ‘a-ha’ moment as such. In fact this feeling that I should write a book on this subject, which meets the specific requirements of serving and retired armed forces officers, has been there for many years but I have never been able to get around to doing it. I then suddenly decided about a year back that it has to be now or never, and got down to doing it.  

I must add here that the book was planned to be an easy read from day one and that is why it is approached as a ‘15 Step Guide to Golden Retirement’. 

What was the process of looking for a publisher like?

The publisher was ironically pre-decided and I did not search for a publisher! Creative Crows is a spirited publishing venture by an armed forces lady and is very popular in the fauji circles. In fact they had approached us a few years back after reading some of my articles in TOI, Finapolis etc but at that time, the focus was on setting the processes and simplifying personal finance for armed forces officers. Now when I was done with the first draft and in the process of setting timelines for the editing schedule, Mrs. Ganiv Panjrath approached once again and there was no point in looking anywhere else.

What have you discovered about yourself during your own Retirement Transition? 

While I myself was fairly aware financially when I transitioned from serving to retired, I saw a lot of other officers struggling with such a transition which I watched keenly. They were generally confused about the entire facet of money management. Wealth creation was not a very fancy term back then.

Most of the financial decisions taken by most of the retiring officers seemed to be ‘by a throw of dice’! Their inputs came from what their friends, relatives, social media groups and generalised media posts said or did rather than a logical and rational analysis of their own personal situations – present or future. This is something I have very consciously tried to address in my book and believe that it is the most significant aspect of retirement planning for armed forces officers.

Which part of the book did you have the most difficulty writing?

The most difficult part of the book was in presenting financial concepts, which are the core of any financial management, but are also quite boring to an average reader. Two such chapters, Chapter 3 on Asset Allocation, and Chapter 4 on Financial Planning, were comparatively difficult to present in a way that the concepts are properly understood but do not come out as boring monologues that the reader glosses over. I am quite satisfied with the way they have come out and am sure readers of the book will understand and absorb them well since they are an extremely important part of the book.

Which section of the book is your favourite and why?

While a book is like a baby to an author, there are always favourite children! Since the book is primarily written for retiring and retired officers, my favourite chapter is Chapter 13, ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ – that underlines the  aspects that matter more in life after you retire. Here I have tried to explain that, while having an adequate money corpus is a very good thing, leading a fulfilling and happy life in this phase of our lives is much more important. The ‘gold’ part of the ‘Golden Retirement’ doesn’t come only from the glitter of the money but from a host of other things which may really have nothing to do with money.

What Are The 3 Core Ideas of Your Book?

While it is very difficult to bring together  a complete book, I realise it is even more difficult to mention 3 Core ideas from what is more than a year’s effort. Nevertheless, if I have to do it, it would be – 

1) Every retired person needs a definite customised financial plan for himself/herself. 

2) Financial prudence ultimately leads to financial abundance and financial freedom.  

3) It is never too late to learn the basics of personal finance and benefit from it.

Promotion has become very integral in today’s time for any kind of a book to reach its prospective readers. How did you handle the promotion of your books?

Promotion is not merely advertising but rather convincing the prospective buyers that this book is something which will be useful to you, and your life will be a shade better if you go through it. That is the stance I have taken when I went to the armed forces community and told them about the book. The general pain areas, what we all do right and what not, how it is an easy read and that you don’t have to be prepared to ‘get down to something very serious to read’ when you pick up a copy of this book. The fact that it is actually a conversation between three retiring batchmates in the picturesque setting of a golf course, also helped convey the idea of this book being a comfortable read.

Additionally, since the book was driven by the passion to educate my fellow fauji officers on personal finance and wealth creation, I focused on the outreach so that it reaches the maximum number of armed forces officers. This book was never planned as a revenue earner and that is why all the proceeds of this book are directly getting donated to the HFI Welfare Foundation, for educating children of deceased Jawans’ families who have fallen on hard times.     

What will your readers learn and who are the audiences for your book?

Without a doubt our intended readers of the book are the retired and retiring armed forces officers. They will get empowered with the financial know-how as pertaining intimately to them and also how to change the questions they ask about wealth creation and financial abundance journey. I also expect them to get comfortable and receive convincing answers to their dilemmas about where, why and how to invest their retirement money so that they have a truly golden phase of their life after retirement. 

I personally believe this book can be a perfect gift for anyone who wishes to understand the basics of retirement planning and the logical steps involved in the process. 

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