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Book Review: Money Management

The book starts with India’s new age rich and gives us a few interesting stories about them. Take the case of PayTM’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma

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Shreyasi Singh’s book The Wealth Wallahs is wellwritten but a tad confusing. Is it a book abo- ut how India’s new age rich made their money? Or is it a book about IIFL Wealth which manages the wealth of India’s new age rich? This confusion plagues the book throughout.

The book starts with India’s new age rich and gives us a few interesting stories about them. Take the case of PayTM’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma. Out of engineering college in the 1990s, he started a company and sold it to Living Media India, owners of the India Today group. Having sold the company, he started working for the Group. His parents, like most middle class parents at that point of time, did not like him not taking on a regular job with Infosys or Wipro, as any 90s kid who had done his engineering, was expected to.

Singh also spends some time establishing the middle class upbringing of many of India’s new wealth-wallahs. She also traces the kind of relationship that they share with money. This leads to the reader being told repeatedly that the new age Indian entrepreneur gets his excitement from building a company. The wealth is simply a by-product.

What Singh misses out on, is that in almost all cases, the new age Indian entrepreneur who made his money from e-commerce, the money has come from selling the company. Very few of these companies are actually profitable.

In fact, many of these companies do not even have a basic business model in place. All they were looking to was to establish a certain amount of scale and then sell out. They just happened to be at the right place at the right time, with venture capitalists and pri- vate equity investors flush with easy money raised from the US and other parts of the Western world, falling over one another, to get a stake of the India pie. In fact, many of the e-commerce companies basically have a structure of a Ponzi scheme, which will keep running only till when the investor money comes in. This is a basic factor which remains unexplored.

Suddenly, after talking about a few entrepreneurs, Singh introduces IIFL Wealth, which is in the business of managing wealth of largely new age Indian entrepreneurs. We are then introduced to the team, how the company was set up, how it went on financing itself and so on. The trouble is that this story just comes out of the blue.

And this is a problem that impacts the book throughout.

In between Singh tries to dabble with behavioural economics and talks about the God syndrome and the diminishing returns of optimism, when it comes to entrepreneurship. These are very interesting concepts in themselves and some amount of detailing on this would have made for a very interesting read. But very soon Singh has to go back to writing about IIFL Wealth.

That remains a basic problem with this book. Every time Singh starts discussing an issue, she goes back to writing about IIFL Wealth. If Singh had just stuck to writing about India’s new wealthy and talked about their lives, companies and finances, the book would have made for a good read.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Vivek Kaul

Kaul is a writer and has authored the Easy Money (Sage) trilogy

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