Audi Quattro Conversations with Rahul Parmar

Words: Aatish Mishra

Photography: Gaurav S Thombre

Meet Rahul Parmar, A banker with ICICI Securities Private Wealth Management. I asked him what that means and he says he manages wealth for his clients, advising his clients to achieve their financial goals and stay invested in a period of dead investment. Basically, he makes rich people richer. But he hasn’t been doing this all his life. He started his banking career in retail banking where he looked after Corporate salary accounts, current accounts and Forex. After 15 years of hard work he rewarded himself with an Audi A3.
We caught up with him early one morning, just before he drove down to Nasik in his new Audi for a meeting.

Would you call yourself a car enthusiast?
“Like most guys who have grown up in India in the ’80s and ’90s, yes. We grew up in a time where all we saw on the roads were Premier Padminis and Ambassadors. But it was the fancy cars in the embassies that sparked my interest. I learned to drive in a Padmini itself, my father’s car. After saving for a long time, he bought the car in 1985 for a massive Rs 70,000. Just like most kids, I began by parking it in the garage, and maybe sneaking it out for a few rounds here and there. We had that car for a very long time. The first car that I bought with my own money was a Tata Indica, in 2003. After that, I stuck to Hyundai for a while. I had an Accent and then a Verna diesel. And now I’ve finally moved up to an Audi.”

On markets and investments
“As a domestic market, investment penetration in India by domestic investors remains low. We have just some two odd per cent penetration of DMAT accounts for the whole population of the country — not a whole lot of investors within the country. However, as part of the global investment scenario, India is placed very well. Our economy is very diverse — we have the largest number of products and services offered by any economy. Other developing economies are either service driven, product driven or commodity driven. India is a blend of all of these in a very good ratio, making it a very good place for investment. Everything in India is looking positive at the moment, and I am hopeful that the investment environment will only improve. If every initiative is taken to conclusion, I think it will be a very good next decade or two for investment in our country.

If you were to ask me what would be a safe investment today, an investment where there is complete security on your principal and some returns, I’d say you first need to understand that every investment has some risk involved. Fixed deposits are presumed to be safe as long as you are with a large bank which has a good liquidity ratio and good regulation compliance in place. I think that forms a good safe investment. Off late I have seen government tax-free bonds form a good investment over a long term period.
You also have various corporate bonds and debt products. Debt typically means fixed income, so you have bonds and corporate papers where you can invest in mutual funds. They form this typically safe segment of investment, however as I said the risk differs, government tax free bond would become the safest benchmark and everything carries some amount of risk. Your corporate bonds will give you a higher yield than government of India bonds because of the risk factor. The only way to invest properly would be to sit with some sort of financial advisor and chart out how much risk you are willing to take or not, and invest accordingly.”

The A3
“Japanese cars are very nice, I have heard people say that a Toyota outlasts its owner. And I believe that’s true. If I have an option of owning multiple cars, one of them will be a Japanese car. But the Germans rule as far as automobiles are concerned. Every kid from my era remembers Ravi Shastri winning the Audi 100. That was the very first brand we aspired to have as far as luxury is concerned. This thought was stuck somewhere in the back of my head, and the fact that they make phenomenal cars made me pick Audi.
The A3 is a logical choice for a city drive. It’s more compact than the A4 and the A6. Driving it around, parking it, manoeuvring it around is easy. Once you are in the cockpit, you don’t feel like you are driving a very big car. The size makes it very practical. It is somewhat of a split personality — on the regular drive mode, it is a gentle beast. But in sports mode it’s a different animal altogether! In Pune, 99 per cent of the time, you will have to drive slowly, watching out for people crossing the roads and two wheelers on the road. But you can go out to the expressway and have a bit of fun as well. The suspension is absolutely brilliant. Even on Pune’s roads, you notice that it is rather comfortable. The way it sticks to the road is very impressive as well. It doesn’t feel dangerous at all when you corner at higher speeds.”

On technology and design
“Technology is what makes the car today — it makes all the difference. The way the engine performs, the way the car drives is completely dependent on the technology it utilises. For example, the S-Tronic gearbox. It never fails to surprise you. It is seamless; you never feel it shift and it always has enough power every time you want some from it. Technology is the number one consideration in buying a car today.
The Audi A3 has a very clean design which will work for every season. There are some car manufacturers who come up with a design that works for some time and then it loses its appeal. Audi has a design language which will appeal to every person. It looks sporty with the LED headlamps at the front. From the side it looks like a good corporate car that I can drive to meetings with clients, I mean, we can’t drive sports cars. The design according to me will remain fresh for a long time, it is not something that needs to change soon.
They’ve taken care of the little things. Like the air conditioning duct has a diffuser so that you can focus the airflow and diffuse it as you please. It has a sunroof, automatic rain sensors and all the little details have been taken care of.

The wolf of Dalal street
I get a lot of calls from my friends saying “Is your world really like what they showed in the Wolf of Wall Street”? I always say “no, thankfully no”. Typical dealing room scenarios are not that tense at all. You are working for the clients, so it’s not really an environment where you should be tense about doing your work. As long as you work in a way which is beneficial for your clients and you work with integrity, I don’t think it will ever be that strange. India saw its share of scams in the early days of the stock market when regulations were not that stringent and tracking mechanisms were not that efficient, but that is way behind us. Now the governing body has very good regulations in place, there is stringent tracking, and implementation of the law is very strict. In today’s time, I do not think that we have incidents like that. One or two, smaller in magnitude would have existed in the past, I guess today’s environment is not very conducive to financial fraud and it is only going to get more and more stringent. It’s good that we are not leaving any loopholes for such things going further.
Rahul insists on driving himself, unlike many who’d rather employ chauffeurs and soak in the opulence from the backseat. He feels like Jason Statham out of the Transporter series, he says, when behind the wheel of his A3. Without the suspicious packages in the boot, we might add.

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