Subroto Som is Head of Retail Banking Group at Dubai-based Mashreq bank. He moved to the UAE in December 2015 for his third stint in the Emirate. Som, who is a Sinaporean of India descent, is an alumnus of IIT Delhi and IIM Ahmedabad. The 55-year-old banker has three decades of retail banking experience with organisations like Citi Bank and Standard Chartered where he has held several senior business, risk and operations assignments.
Who was your biggest influence for learning how to manage money?
I have learned discipline and conservatism in money managment from my parents, diligence from my wife, to be aspirational from various leaders like Warren Buffet, Li Ka Sing and Narayan Murthy. Many different perspectives from numerous friends most of whom tend to make excellent investments or maybe they only talk about the successes it yields for them.
How much did you get paid for your first job?
After my engineering degree from IIT, I was paid a mere Rs1,100 per month ($160) and after MBA from IIM it jumped to Rs28,000 per annum ($4,000). These were, however, best in class compensation in the mid-80s in India.
What is your most cherished purchase?
Many, but to name two: B&W Nautilus 800 Speakers and Yellow Porsche Open top Boxster.
What is your worst spending decision?
Investing into New York equities market during the dot com boom period only to experience the bust soon thereafter.
What’s the first thing you do after getting paid each month?
Actually nothing! But the biggest reward to me is working with great people, focusing on making a difference and having fun.
Where do you invest your money?
It's been a long journey with many mistakes and learnings. Still the horizon is full of many unexplored opportunities and options. I have come to realise that it is not easy to make super returns. You make great returns in some only to lose in the others! It needs lot of hard work, continuous monitoring and luck. I have ended up having various buckets of investments with specific goals and objectives. As an Asian, I love property investments and work hard to keep them simple.
Do you have a financial plan in place for the future?
Yes. The family and I spend a lot of time discussing and adjusting the same. The world is economically getting a much tougher place for investments over the past five to seven years.