Archive for August, 2009

a letter from Farrukh

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Dear Sir:

Impossible is Nothing:

It’s the day that I have long anticipated. Addressing a man who has become more than a source of inspiration for many – you have become an icon. CA charterholder with a Gold Medal. That must be some effort you must have put to pull this amazing feat. Being a Gold Medal myself, I can imagine what it feels like living this prestige. It feels conclusive. But CA is not the crowning achievement in my books. And after doing CFA, I guess you cannot help but agree. It’s that crown-jewel CFA that makes you special enough that I’m writing to you at this late hour in this night. Who hates a perfectly good nap?

I’m awake because someone once told me about a secret treasure. A treasure that has the potential to confer me with a distinction unlike I ever conceived. Not only that, that treasure would also enable me to pursue my dreams and ambitions and achieve all that I have ever wanted to achieve. It would take me by hand and pull me out of the crowd. A treasure that would present an unrivaled challenge in its pursuit, but would also hold unmatched satisfaction once I’ve managed to get my hands on it. But here’s a catch. That someone who told me about the treasure also told me that only one man holds the key to that treasure: you, Mr. Kamran Rashid.

As you might have guessed by now, that treasure is the intangible suffix that is “CFA”. But I think I would be only adding to your confusion if I don’t introduce myself to you. My name is Farrukh Muhammad Taufiq and I write to you from Islamabad – a city I intend to bring you closer to again. I’m an MBA from Mohammad Ali Jinnah University Islamabad in which, as I told you earlier, I graduated magna cum laude. To add flavor to this success, I have two international publications, both in a reputed UK-based publishing house. Local publications have never been my hallmark, but still it is a familiar territory for me. Two of my case studies were published in ECCH (European Case Clearing House) in UK in 2006.

Coming to the business. It happened two years back in 2007 that I made a mistake. I sometimes go as far as calling it a blunder. And that blunder was joining National Bank of Pakistan. You would be mesmerized that why I made such a decision. Well, the answer to this question lies in the job-market. An MBA Finance has to face challenge in the market that is mounted by CAs, ACCAs and ACMAs: all that are acknowledged to be more knowledgeable and better equipped with financial acumen. An MBA, as underdog as it is considered in Pakistan, is considered no match for the above and given little or no say when it comes to making some stern business decisions.

Adding insult to injury, I was posted at a rural branch where I continue serving as of I write. Well, as if kicking in the wounds wasn’t enough, I was assigned the job of pension officer that happens to be considered a despicable job even at NBP. Just great. I wouldn’t say that I live with regret of joining NBP, because in that way I would be thankless to Allah Almighty who gifted me a job just when about every one of my friends was struggling to land one. But I would say that it was not what I dreamed of after my MBA. I wished for a job where I would be able to tap the most out of my potential and hone my creative flair. Where I would use my analytical skills for problem-solving and above all, make a difference.

That was that. Since I had penned a bond for a period of five years at the time of joining, it pretty much meant that I was doomed. But hope was not lost as I embarked on the journey known as Junior Associateship (of) Institute of Bankers Pakistan. One of the most sought after professional certifications as far as the Pakistani banking scene goes, JAIBP was also mandatory for my promotion as per the roadmap given by NBP. So I immersed myself in the books once more as I did in my MBA. A side-mission was to keep myself in the loop and not lose the touch with the studies. I had initially overestimated the exam as it had the reputation of being notoriously difficult with meager pass rates.

But I’ve always believed in one thing. Impossible is nothing. And with this notion, I geared up for the exams ending up clearing the Level-I in first attempt. As per the IBP criteria, the banks reward their employees for passing the JAIBP exams if they do so in first attempt. So, fulfilling with this criterion, I was rewarded with Rs. 50,000/- for this accomplishment. Fueled with even higher motivation, I attempted the Level-II fall 2008 and also cleared the same in first attempt, this time bagging a whopping Rs. 75,000/- for my triumph. This was no mean feat. I had now joined a rare league of bankers having this distinction.

I tied my knot in January 2009. But a responsibility-ridden life could not stop my charge as I went on attempting the Level-III in May 2009 and ultimately emerging victorious as I cleared it in yet another first go. In the process, I managed to nab prize money of Rs. 100,000/- I don’t want to waste this amount on some shiny consumer electronics item or expensive furnishing. Instead, I want to invest it on something that has the propensity to generate Rs. 100,000/- each month. Sounds big, but if someone has a vague idea of what I might be hinting at, it is you. Yes. I’m going to invest it in finding on that treasure-hunt that I mentioned earlier on.

But as I told you earlier on, you are the one who holds the key to that treasure. Your reputation precedes you as far as CFA coaching is concerned. With an immaculate record and highest number of candidates passing with you at helm, you must just be the right resource person who can take my hand and help me catapult across this chasm. But I’m here in Islamabad and you’re there in Lahore. And upon recently learning that you’ve quit Islamabad, my chances of success suffered quite a blow. CFA is essentially a self-study program, but an indispensable coaching like yours has no substitute. I would not be kidding when I reiterate that I need you… as do so many other CFA hopefuls in Islamabad.

Now the thought crossing your mind would be that what I can offer you in return. Well, apart from fee, I’ll be bringing my unequaled devotion to the table. I WILL crack this nut and I WILL do CFA, whether I have to pierce my hands with nails, period. But without you, it’d only take longer. With so much money at stake, I won’t be sitting idle or taking my eyes off the ball like some non-serious candidates do. I’m burning my hard-earned cash here by investing in this endeavor and I must have a very good reason to convince my family for this exploit. I mean, adding some more money could have given me a decent used car even. But I’m thinking long-term. And I think you’d be appreciative of my philosophy.

So here I am. Writing to a man who has waived Islamabad adieus, maybe because he desired better results from the twin cities or maybe because the low headcount turned him off. Whatever the reason maybe, such decisions are rarely made overnight. You might be pursuing greener pastures by planning coaching centers in Dubai or Karachi, and they might well succeed (InshaAllah). But writing Islamabad off so early would not only be robbing students of your adept guidance, but effectively leaving the twin cities in drought, without a capable CFA facilitator. I don’t think much in commercial terms, but I can only wonder how can a segment as large and seeping with potential as Islamabad be left ignored? You are a CFA/CA. You tell.

I think this letter has become long-winded and we have yet to reach a conclusion. You must have a very good reason to be leaving us all here, depriving us the taste of CFA. Wrapping it up, I need you. We need you. What I can promise you is passion and resilience unheard of. I don’t want to waste my life signing pensions, hell no. I want to pursue my dream of landing a good role in Investment Banking, where I can make my worth count. Where I can make a difference. Yes. I’ve taken the decision to plunge into the CFA program as a challenge and I will live up to this challenge like I always have. With an apt game-plan and a managed routine, I can get this monkey off my back. I just want you to be here and help me with this.

While I can’t say with certainty, but I think there would be many potential candidates out here in Islamabad, currently dissatisfied and disgruntled with their jobs and seeking new avenues to give their careers massive uplifts. After all, like Lahore candidates, we too have right to live our dreams, make good bucks and have a fun life. But all good things come to those who wait (and strive). I believe there is a latent pool of potential CFAs waiting for a Kamran Rashid to come and reveal the doorway to that dream life. An unknown author once said, “When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in the first place.” No comment.

As I said, who hates a perfectly good nap? Well, I have. But at least I’ve done so in belief that my effort won’t go in vain. I have this faith that Kamran Rashid will return to Islamabad and pick up where he left off. Life without challenges is so boring. And with so much achieved, I still believe that you won’t be gratified leaning back on a plush seat and saying “This is it”. You’re one of those people who are always looking forward to the next marathon. As far as the poor results from Islamabad are concerned, I would say that don’t get discouraged. It’s often the last key in the bunch that opens up the lock.

For the headcount, I can assure you as the CFA fever spreads, more and more candidates would want to enroll and benefit from this immensely worthwhile program. You can leave this up to God. After all, He’s the one who accompanied you across your journey from humble beginnings to the brand-of-a-man you’ve become. Even if this letter gives you second thoughts, I would consider it as my success. As I earlier said, I would do CFA, but without your aid it could only take longer. But there are many who need Kamran Rashid to begin with. With so many friends of my own expressing their dire desire to benefit from the CFA program, I have this hunch that you’d find a surged level of drive in the Islamabad candidates.

I have a firm faith that efforts of man coupled with sincerity rarely go unrewarded. With this, I conclude this letter. I guess as much as it took me to type, it’ll take you comparably, if not equally longer to read this letter. What would be your decision? Only God knows. After all, you carve your own destiny. If you still believe that your cost-benefit analysis doesn’t justify your return, then that would be perfectly fine with me. After all, it’s your call. – and your life. But in likely event that you do return… well, in that case I just won a charter. It would vest me with pride and fulfillment that may surpass even the euphoria that I would feel the day I hold that CFA charter.

Best of luck sir. Keep changing lives. For that is, and always has been, your destiny…

Keeping hope(s) alive,

Taufiq, Farrukh M.