By age 10, Vishal Kampani knew what he wanted to become when he grew up—an investment banker like his father. After all, Nimesh Kampani, co-founder of JM Financial Ltd, was one of the three famed Ks of the business (the other two being Hemendra Kothari and Uday Kotak). The elder Kampani began grooming his son when he was in his early 20s. Now 35, the younger Kampani has a sizeable number of deals to his credit, including Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd’s purchase of a stake in Pantaloon Retail India Ltd, for which JM Financial was the sole adviser. He’s also taken the firm to the top of the league table for qualified institutional placement, or QIP.
“Ever since I was in class five I heard my father speak about deals over the phone. I never had any qualms about being an investment banker because the way my father spoke about investment banking made me feel there was no better world beyond it,” he says.
When he began sitting in on meetings more than a decade ago, no one questioned his presence or his powers of discretion.
“They knew I was Nimesh Kampani’s son and I will not breach his trust. Over a period of time the clients started trusting me as well,” he says, stressing that this trust was key to JM Financial’s success.
“My dad repeated multiple times after a telephone conversation that I should keep my mouth shut about the deal and so I learnt the most important lesson in I-banking—what is there in the stomach should remain in your stomach,” he says.
As far as academics was concerned, he was told to “focus on your personality development but should not fall below the 10th rank”.
After his MBA from London Business School, Vishal Kampani joined Morgan Stanley in the US in 1999 where he was involved in the equities side— research, sales and capital markets. At the time, he was fairly certain that Morgan Stanley would offer him a job because, after all, it had formed a joint venture with JM Financial in 1997. That venture ended in 2007. JM Financial has not actively been looking at joint ventures since then.
“Post the split with Morgan Stanley, we increased our focus on building JM Financial into an Indian financial institution of global standards and reach,” Vishal Kampani says. After a year of working at Morgan Stanley in the US, Vishal Kampani came back to India to start his career in corporate finance.
He now heads the firm’s institutional securities business. The firm will continue to retain its advisory focus and won’t be diversifying into unrelated areas as rivals have done, he says.
How different is he from his father? “I am good with delegating work. My father has an eye for perfection; he takes care of every task personally.” The father-son duo are solution-oriented and “fast thinkers”.
How do his employees perceive him as a boss? “I can be nice as well as stern just like my father.” The younger Kampani is keen on fitness and used to hit the gym five times a week but now has taken to yoga.