Shristi Banka, founder-partner and CEO of Banka and Banka CFO Services LLP, has truly been a young achiever. At age 24, serial entrepreneur Shristi has over six years of experience in working with industry leaders and leading multinational companies in the finance, law and accountancy sectors. Team Optimist spoke to Shristi Banka on her journey so far. Excerpts…
Team Optimist: As a social entrepreneur with such remarkable achievements at such an early age, what’s your secret to success?
Shristi Banka: When I think of my professional journey so far, I attribute it to two key factors — planning and prioritization. At an early age, I realized the importance of having a long-term vision, which I used to chalk out with my father and then, regularly followed up on them and assessed my progress.
There were times when I faced challenges across various multi-faceted pursuits and learned the power of prioritizing. However, one must know that planning, in itself, is of no use until it’s backed up by purpose-driven execution. I was focused on not only completing a task, but also excelling at it.
I believe in the power of having a futuristic sense, which often helps me foresee the outcome of my actions. But none of these factors would’ve helped me achieve an entrepreneurial drive if it weren’t for my vision of instituting a change in the fields of consultancy and finance on a global scale. I believe there’s a long walk ahead of me to achieve these remarkable dreams and I shall keep striving to do my best to fulfil these aspirations to establish a more balanced ecosystem for start-ups and small businesses.
Team Optimist: What’s been your experience with Banka CFO? What were your initial plans for it?
Shristi Banka: Unlike traditional corporate businesses, our social entrepreneurship venture intends to focus on maximizing gains in social satisfaction and creating a positive social impact to boost the nation’s overall start-up ecosystem. We, as young entrepreneurs, want modern businesses to devote their precious time only to core business activities and repose faith in our services for the remaining business needs. We structured the consulting services so that our clients get exemplary accounting and financial services and maximize the returns of their ventures by having a specialized expert look after their professional service needs.
Through Banka CFO, I realized that there’s a dire need among start-ups and MSMEs for a ‘financial brain’ in their organization and we seek to be just that. Start-ups don’t necessarily have sound financial support, even though our country has some of the best technical and innovative minds at work. We seek to minimize this gap because poor financial planning is one of the primary reasons for failure of many start-ups.
Team Optimist: What are the basic qualities needed in a serial entrepreneur in India?
Shristi Banka: As the saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.” As the owner of a leading digital marketing channel, I always had to be mindful of what content I was putting out there. This taught me to be accountable and be aware of my actions and what effect I was hoping to create through them, keeping in mind that they should lead to a positive social impact. As the so-called millennial generation, our responsibility is not only to create new jobs, but also to have a renewed sense of purpose to further our society.
That being said, a serial entrepreneur should always strive to be a leader. I believe that a leader, in the truest sense, is a person who motivates others to lead. Above all, any great creation takes time; so, patience is one’s biggest virtue and one must be prepared to work hard for it. I firmly believe that nothing worth having comes easy.
Team Optimist: Your Instagram page on pop culture has such a huge fan following. Is digital work slowly replacing the traditional media?
Shristi Banka: Certainly, in some aspects. Despite the fact that there’s still a large market for traditional media, the comfort, interactive engagement, immediate feedback and ability to adjust to continuous changes of audience’s needs are major factors that work in favour of the digital media.
Speaking from experience, digital media has allowed me to collaborate with international clients from remote locations in a seamless and efficient manner. The transition to this newer age of digital media not only helps regain the faith of the audience, but also enhances one’s business horizons.
In the end, it’s about what’s best suited to one’s customers and what makes their experience a memorable one — whether digital, or traditional.
Team Optimist: Do the existing finance, law and accountancy sectors need a major overhaul? What suggestions do you have for policy-makers in India?
Shristi Banka: At present, the finance, law and accountancy sectors are quite separate, even though, in reality, they work in close tandem with one another. There’s a need for financial law that reflects an understanding of market failures in finance and their correct effect on your balance sheet position. The objectives for financial regulators and mechanisms governing their functions should be clearly specified and laws should hold leaders of government agencies accountable for their performance.
Certain measures needed to provide an impetus to the economic development of our country are: Providing incentives for the housing and automobile sectors to revive demand, for instance, even temporary, time-bound relief; a quick quality review of non-banking financial companies and helping those that are well-managed and vital to recovery; a round of reforms to boost agriculture for growth and rural demand; working with willing states for a new labour policy that removes all restrictions as such a move should lead to a big increase in foreign direct investment, especially in the labour-intensive industries.
Further, India radically overhauled its indirect tax system more than two years ago with the introduction of the goods and services tax. It now has an opportunity to do the same with the direct taxation system. It should rewrite the present income-tax laws through a direct tax code that’s in line with the present economic needs of the country to keep pace with evolving global best practices.
Team Optimist: Is ‘A successful woman entrepreneur in India’ altogether a myth? What challenges did you face personally?
Shristi Banka: Absolutely not. India’s home to dynamic, powerful women leaders and has bred a generation of visionary women in business — right from Indra Nooyi and Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw in the corporate sector to Arundhati Bhattacharya in the banking sector and the likes of Priyanka Chopra in the media and entertainment sector.
Indian women have been taking over their respective fields, across the globe. I believe that now is the best time for a young woman entrepreneur like me to seek inspiration from these ideals and embark on my own remarkable journey. This is an era where women deserve to come into the limelight and walk the path of success.
Personally, as a working woman professional, I faced several challenges, one of which was to be taken seriously by my male counterparts. As women, we’re required to put our point across in a better and well-packaged manner to attract merit to it, which is extremely unfortunate. We’re considered less able to undertake strenuous tasks simply because of our gender.
However, we have to learn to manoeuvre around these challenges and alter the situations to our advantage. On the academic front, I’ve always been inclined to constantly learn and upgrade my knowledge that leads to pursuing various professional qualifications. Coming from the Marwari community, I’ve often faced ill-humoured opinions from people, such as no boy would want to marry a girl more qualified than he is.
However, I’m extremely fortunate for the unconditional support of my parents, who’ve always taught me to ignore such comments and consider them simply as background noise. They’ve always encouraged me to dream big, believe in my dreams and set out to achieve them without looking back, or being affected by any negativity.