Ethics in our business – Uday Disley

If one ever thought about ‘ethics in I banking’ being an oxymoron, think again. It’s no different from all the other businesses out there, which are vulnerable to ‘ethical dilemmas’, on a daily basis. One might ask, if we are immune to questions of ethics.

No sir, sorry, most of often than not, we keep asking ourselves ‘whether we are in the right profession at all’, thanks to some unreasonable situations. So how do we go about life, well, without asking unnecessary ‘existential’ questions, our sagely stance has always been that, ‘this too shall pass’ and a chapter addition to the ambitious autobiography that one hopes to write.

If you ask any seasoned I Banker, he/ she would tell you that, one becomes wiser with experience, better if it is a bad one.

Our dilemma

Sample this, a client (prospective) has sub $1 Million in revenues, says that revenue is booked in one entity and expenses are booked in another, wants a minimum $12 Million to sell and says he is sitting on an offer already.

It gets even better, the promoters and their investors would like their purchase consideration to be paid overseas or if possible in cash. The best of us would say this person has smoked something very potent, but the tragedy is that, the deal is possible, at least theoretically.

The ethical dilemma is whether this deal is straight enough for us to be involved in or is this a opportunity for us to showcase our skills in structuring a complex deal. The big aside also is if this client’s thought process is like this, there is a good chance that we may never see our fees.

As has been our experience with some far thinking clients who have enough intelligence to think far in their business, but end up spending considerable amount of it on finding loopholes in the system and doing the disappearing act when it comes to paying their advisors.

So would ethics override anything that we do in business, well some very successful businesses seems to think so. The Narayan Murthys, Tata’s, Premji’s etc. at least have demonstrated remarkable success in not paying bribes, but only as we know it, but let’s face it we are not them until we are them.

Our cynicism

Recently there has been so much talk about corruption in the public domain, that one can only get more cynical about ethics, worst being that, one tends towards believing that nothing is straight forward in business at all levels (be it a huge scam or your day to day kickbacks).

Even we do get cynical about these things especially when you see some fellow I bankers fall in this trap, but our stance has always been to stay away from ‘Bad deals’ or ‘Unreasonable situations’. On the view that there will always be people who will take up these kinds of deals, well good luck to them and their ecosystem, we are happy to work with client’s who value what we value, even though the number is small.


About Deepak
Venture Capital and M&A advisor, Entrepreneur, Startup enthusiast..

2 Responses to Ethics in our business – Uday Disley

  1. Ravi says:

    Nice piece. Why blame the Rajas and the Yedis – India Inc. is equally corrupt, if not more. Thanks

    • Ravi,

      Indian Inc is corrupt, tell me about it! Entrepreneurship is romanticised in India and there is need for so much more transparency. Is it in the nature of Indian business to be corrupt or do you think business is such and transparency will only be a natural progress in the future. Do you think anything has changed after Satyam.

      The EDITOR

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