Manju Mastakar: Redefining CEO Concept with Ardent Determination and Brawn

Manju Mastakar

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A CEO is the driving force of an organization that frames a clear vision for achieving organizational goals. A CEO breeds credibility and accountability across the organization and helps harvest confidence via business. Every thriving CEO is backed by an inspiring story that sets the world ablaze.

A prudent protagonist of such an instantaneous success story is Manju Mastakar (CEO and Founder of Armstrong Capital and Financial Services Pvt. Ltd.). In 2000, Manju began her career in the stock markets of Mumbai and worked with various stockbrokers as a front-end executive providing advice on buying stocks. She moved to Bangalore in 2007 and worked with few wealth management firms as an Investment Advisor. However, Manju lost her job during the 2008 financial meltdown. Due to difficult times in the industry and a lack of jobs, she decided to start her own job. She had a few customers and had initiated contact with a couple of more people, and started operating from home. As she was pursuing entrepreneurship and motherhood simultaneously, it helped her maintain a work-life balance. In 2010, she encountered an investor who was influenced by her dedication towards work and agreed to fund her by asking her to start and scale-up professionally. Thus, Armstrong Capital & Financial Services Pvt. Ltd. was born.

The basic motive behind starting Armstrong and continuing it was that the way wealth management was dealt it the back end was not very encouraging,” quotes Manju. She mentions that while several organizations were focused on generating enormous revenue, Armstrong focused on building a long-term relationship. The company understood the needs of clients and then offered solutions. According to Manju, wealth management firms cannot be built with money, but with time and trust.

Mirror Review had an excellent opportunity to participate in a conversation with Manju and learn about her company, her candid views on being a CEO, and the associated roles and responsibilities. Following are some snippets of the fascinating conversation.

What are the unique services and solutions offered by your company?

Armstrong is financial planning and wealth management company. Before advising, we try and understand the upcoming financial commitments of the clients. At Armstrong, we carry out complete end-to-end financial planning. We retrospect the clients’ investments, show them a complete picture of their future financials along with the state of annuity during their retirement.

Our key offerings are financial planning, mutual fund advisory, and wealth management. Our financial plans are comprehensive. It is the key differentiator and backbone of our advisory.

Being at the helm of the company, how would you define your roles and responsibilities? Can you walk us through some of your notable achievements?.

I engage with the managers of different business units and oversee their performance. I feel that the biggest danger is the hard-working attitude of the team but yielding no progress. Identifying these gaps and innovating some other strategy that may take it forward is the most important role of the CEO.

There are very few women in the Financial Markets, and the count is further lower when it comes to client-facing and advisory jobs. I feel my greatest achievement is the ability to influence people to guide them through the wealth-building journey. I feel good when people in the industry respect me for my advice and seek guidance.

Being a part of the wealth management industry, how do you ensure optimum customer satisfaction?

Being Financial Doctors, we speak only the truth, and it often sounds bitter. We are very vivid and honest with our clients.  We welcome feedback from clients on improving our service, platform, and user interface. We work towards improvising and providing the client a better experience. As the CEO, I answer random clients and interact with them. I enjoy asking them questions and digging deep to get candid feedback.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your company? How did you tackle the challenges?

When the pandemic began, it was difficult for my team to cope up suddenly with the work from home culture. As an organization, we recruited interns and converted them into employees. Since they were freshers and a lot of peer-to-peer handholding was required, I felt the best decision would be to let them go.

Being the leader, I had to alter the business model and transition to complete digitalization and business automation. It was a good move as we had to evolve as a business and achieve new highs. We reskilled the existing employees to take up additional responsibilities and stayed focused. Currently, we have resumed working from the office and installed a hybrid model of working for a few employees.

As a woman leader, how do you focus on surpassing various challenges presented throughout your journey?

Being a woman CEO is tougher as I have to managing being authoritative and accommodative. Influencing men and being cautious that I do not hurt their ego is tough. I also strategized creativity and innovation on low budgets. Initially, it was difficult for the team to agree to this but they later realized that if there is an equal probability to fail then it’s better to have a low budget and save the buck for a rainy day. I try to maintain an optimistic and happy culture as our profession is managing other people’s money and it can get very depressing when the stock market crashes

What would you like to convey to the aspiring leaders anticipating making a mark in their respective concerned industry?

I would suggest taking responsibility. Making more commitments is the first step towards becoming a self-led leader. Make decisions that might not suit your buy may gratify others.

Manju Mastakar

Also Read: Top 10 Futuristic CEOs of 2022

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