Ratish Nair: The broke-at-20-somethings


Some lessons  the 20-somethings — or should I address them more appropriately as young professionals? — today have learnt is, ‘spend money to earn money’,  ‘to make money you need to look good’ or, as they say in Hindi, ‘Jo dikhta hai woh bikhta hai’. 

You come across too many of them in your day-to-day life — your colleagues, mentees at work, etcetera. The city of Mumbai has seen so many aspiring Bollywood actors who come to the city with eyes full of dreams. To land roles with big banners, you need to be visible, seen at parties. Hence the need to hire PR professionals, spending heavily on clothes, outfits, dresses… When the effort fails, we hear of depression, drugs, even  suicide.

Ratish Nair on  the 20-something urban poor, whom the credit card- and personal loan sales guys love. They aren’t poor, but they’re broke

In my career spanning 16 years in India and abroad, I have come across hundreds of these ‘urban poor’ who definitely look a class apart. Their branded clothes, accessories, iPhones will seldom tell you the stories of their crying wallets and bank balances.

I know of people who aim to buy  cars with their first salaries and may not even think of dreaming about their own house. I know of people who hate investing, insurance, mutual funds;  instead, an animal called EMI eats up majority of their salaries within the first few days of every month. Expensive cars but no money for fuel or unaffordable garage bills. The first few days of salary would see lot of emis, rent, utilities, etcetera that have to be  in cash payments. Soon, you see the plastic money at work – ‘for everything (else) there’s MasterCard’. Sadly, they’ve taken the jingle too seriously.

I know of a friend who lived with her family in uptown Malad, but because she was a banker she thought should be seen to be living in Bandra, and so rented an expensive flat there only to host parties for her colleagues. None in her office knew where she came from.

He was surviving as banks had balance transfer options from one current maxed out credit card to a new one. He survived for a few years doing this, and later was black-listed

I know someone who was always very well dressed, well groomed with expensive clothes, shoes and accessories that his salary couldn’t afford. People who didn’t know this about him  always praised his dress sense; little did they know that  he was surviving as banks had balance transfer options from one current maxed out credit cards to new ones. He survived for a few years doing this, and later was black-listed.

These are the 20-something urban poor whom the credit card- and personal loan sales guys love. They aren’t poor, but they are broke. At almost all times. I know of many such people, and  I’m sure you too might come across people who, by the end of the first week of their salary payouts, are cribbing about huge credit card outstandings, personal loan emis, and — a rising trend these days — mobile phone- and gadget EMIs. They spend a majority of their salaries to maintain a lifestyle they think is important. They always live in hope for the next appraisal cycle, not realising that salaries are never enough. The more it is, the more you will spend, ‘coz that’s your lifestyle.

I’ve been there myself and hence I know you don’t say ‘no’ because not only might you cry, you’d also look cheap. Your colleagues plan to spend  Friday night at an expensive club you know you can’t afford  but end up going to anyways as  you don’t want to be the topic of discussion by looking ‘cheap’. Occasions where you pick up that expensive bill and later pay through your nose.

While you are busy dressing for the job or  lifestyle you want, it is important to focus on a successful career and wealth creation

I started my career,  had huge credit card bills that I hid from my dad, was at the receiving end with those scary recovery calls, and later had to go to dad for help. Today when I look back, I feel fortunate that I stood corrected at the right time. I make it a point today to speak to my colleagues about their finances, ask them how they manage finances, if they are having food on time.

While you are busy dressing for the job or  lifestyle you want, it is important to focus on a successful career and wealth creation. Look for jobs that come with a decent incentive policy and growth plan, invest a portion of your salaries in mutual funds, insurance or even the stock market. It is important to have a reasonable medical insurance for yourself and your aging parents. Well managed finance today will give you all that you want tomorrow, with very little or no pain.


Only a fine  professional who is also a young veteran in the Human Resources talent nurturing and  recruitment areas value chain could be qualified for such insightful advice as you just read.  Which is why I’m really happy that Ratish Nair, who has been there and done a lot of that, is writing for readers of this website. He will write about life and lifestyle, humans and professionals caught between vaunted careers and personally wanted or desired occupations, problems and advice. Ratty, as he is fondly called by his friends, thinks, speaks and acts like the crow flies – straight. As you  would have seen above, with Ratish, there’s no mincing of words. But when it comes to pretences, well, that’s another story.

Let me also take this opportunity to share Ratish’s LinkedIN profile summary to give you an idea of the kind of experience and insights he brings to us all. Ratish has 16 years of experience in Human Resources and the entire Talent value chain, especially in the areas of leadership hiring, contingent hiring, compensation benchmarking, recruiting process outsourcing across India and the Middle East.

He’s been with Quess Corp Limited for over eight years now,  and his current designation there is Vice President – Non IT Recruitments. Ratish has grown at Quess into a complete recruiting professional managing multiple business, handling large teams across geographies, managing scale and complexity.

In his current role at Quess, Ratish drives recruitment and project hiring across wide range of industries such as BFSI, Consumer, Pharma Healthcare and Biosciences, Retail and Industrial Engineering along with some  new-age industries.  Before  joining the Quess group in 2008, Ratish was associated with INX Executive Search (IMD network) in various capacities over four years. Ratish’s  relationship skills and his  solution-centric approach have helped him build long-term value for his customers.

I’m sure you will look forward to Ratish Nair’s insightful, thought-provoking pieces here. Keep coming back, for Ratish will, too.  – Pavan R Chawla

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