Prashant Bhai is retiring better than Donald Bradman: Nilesh Shah, CEO, Kotak Mahindra Mutual Fund

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Prashant Bhai is retiring better than Donald Bradman: Nilesh Shah, CEO, Kotak Mahindra Mutual Fund

Now I know the feeling which players and spectators felt when Donald Bradman announced his retirement or will feel when Roger Federer announces his retirement.

Prashant Bhai is a legend. He has been a brand ambassador for the mutual fund industry for the last three decades. Most importantly he is a true gentleman.

He is a legend not because he is the first fund manager to manage more than Rs 1 trillion in equity funds, has managed funds for more than three decades, or his fund has delivered four times more return than the market over a long period of 26 years.

Also read | ‘Investment discipline over returns chase’, Prashant Jain’s peers weigh on his legacy

He is a legend because he is a role model for all of us.

Calm in a sea of storm

The first thing you notice about him is his warmth, genuineness, and humility. In the worst market correction, he will connect with a large audience of anxious investors and distributors with his calm and measured communication. The entire auditorium would feel his warmth and genuineness. Millions of investors and distributors have benefited from his sane advice over the decades.

He is a man of macros as well as micros. Hearing his interactions with company managements is a master class. He will bring focus on the most critical issues without sounding offensive. So many companies have benefitted from his sane advice – on business challenges to governance issues. His business acumen is so good that he was acknowledged by a corporate legend in his autobiography. To this day, he remains the only fund manager to receive that honour.

Also read | India’s largest fund manager calls it quits. The legacy of Prashant Jain

Prashant Bhai is an analyst and a portfolio manager par excellence. His ability to understand managements, businesses, and valuations across debt and equity, across market cycles was superior to most on the Street. He always stood by his conviction and came out vindicated by the market every time. While the Technology-Media-Telecom (TMT) bubble in 2000 ended the careers of many fund managers, Prashant Bhai emerged like pure gold from the agni-pariksha. Most recently, Prashant Bhai got vindicated in the PSU stocks.

Keeping the mutual fund industry’s flag flying high

Prashant Bhai is a legend because he was always there to tackle issues and challenges for the mutual fund Industry.

On many corporate governance issues, we have fought the battle together to persuade managements to follow the path of governance.

Also read | Has Prashant Jain finally managed to revive HDFC MF’s schemes?

Fund managers are like goalkeepers. They are remembered for the goals conceded rather than the goals saved. Maybe, he could write a book on how many goals he saved over the decades. Prashant Bhai always whole-heartedly contributed to solving the challenges faced by the mutual fund industry from the early days.

While Prashant Bhai is a numero uno on investment, he is deeply spiritual too. He doesn’t eat after sunset. I had the privilege of spending time with Prashant Bhai at Isha Ashram in Coimbatore while interviewing Sadhguru. Those two days showed the profoundly spiritual and curious mind of Prashant Bhai.

Prashant Bhai is the role model for fund managers and youngsters. I am sure that HDFC Mutual Fund and the entire mutual fund industry will miss him. Not only investors and distributors, but also peers like us will miss, yet fondly remember him.

Prashant Bhai is retiring better than Donald Bradman. In his last inning, Sir Don got out on zero and didn’t attain the magic average figure of three digits. Prashant Bhai is retiring after a magic performance when everyone is asking why now, rather than why not.

I wish all the best to Prashant Bhai in his next endeavours. I am sure the market will remain close to his heart whatever he does.

One day when I look back on my work life, one of the sweetest memories will be to have been a contemporary of a legend like Prashant Jain.

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