Seldom has the Indian equity market seen a refined research mind like Devina Mehra or an unvarnished market strategist like Shankar Sharma. In the stock market, where herd mentality rules supreme, First Global, the institutional broking house co-founded by Devina and Shankar is an anomaly. Their client base is entirely comprised of foreign institutional investors and theirs was the first Indian brokerage to acquire a London Stock Exchange as well as Nasdaq membership.
But getting here was far from easy for these first generation entrepreneurs and they did fight a well documented war to retain their business, not to mention their freedom. The fight with the State did leave a scar and led to Devina and Shankar diversifying their business and financial interests. Even after being 25 years in the business, they have no equal in terms of research quality or candidness and, indeed, are the first couple of Indian investing. Like all high achievers, they have their share of critics and name-callers, but frankly my dear, they don’t give a damn.
Where and when did you meet? What attracted you towards each other?
Devina: We met at Citibank’s investment banking division. Sparks flew during an offsite at the Lake Palace, Udaipur, where Shankar serenaded me for hours. I was looking for someone who was a good human being and had a mind agile enough for me to not get bored. As Shankar himself declared to his friends at age 9, “I’m handsome, good at studies and sports, and can even sing well. What more can a girl want in a husband?” And boy, he was right!
Shankar: What I liked most about Devina was her humility and simplicity. Despite being an absolute genius — with an IIM-A gold medal under her belt — she was unaffected and down to earth.