“Building a Successful Career in Financial Services” by Radhika Gupta at 2nd Financial Talent Summit, Delhi 2019

Building a Successful Career in Financial Services

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Speaker- Radhika Gupta, CEO, Edelweiss Asset Management

Moderated By: Dr. Monika Chopra, CFA, Assistant Professor, International Management Institute

Contributed By: Shivani Chopra, CFA

“How’s the market going?” is a question that people regularly seek a reply from Radhika Gupta, CEO, Edelweiss Asset Management. But “No one is sure ever! “is how she feels about it, given the highly volatile business environment. Financial services is a sector where one is learning every day. However, in order to successfully build a career in this arena, the speaker encourages everyone to thrive on CHAOS –

C – Core Strength

H – Happiness

A – Adaptable

O – Opportunist

S – Simplicity

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Radhika shared stories from her life and related to each of the five ingredients in CHAOS, in her aptly titled presentation – “Around the world in 35 years”. She deliberately picked up stories from her life as she strongly feels that bull and bear periods are not only about the capital markets but also about our lives. Her father was a diplomat and with her family, she moved across countries every three years. This opportunity gave her distinctive experiences to learn from. She shared her learning from her experiences in five different countries.

Life Stories

Story #1 from Italy – What’s your CORE?

Coffee is an integral part of Italian culture. Italians tend to value high quality beans and they are loyal to specific flavours offered by local brands. They might be considered lazy people but they know exactly what they want- a locally brewed coffee! Surely, even a global brand like Starbucks can’t succeed in Italy to quench the coffee thirst. The example of Italy teaches us to find our core i.e. our coffee. Your core is what you excel at. One should build a career that is an expression of oneself. When we will celebrate our core, others will. It will also become our personal brand. But remember to stay original as copies aren’t worth much.

Story #2 from Nigeria – Can you spread HAPPINESS?

Even though Nigeria is one of largest oil producing countries in the world, the nationwide corrupt practices do not even allow its citizens to get the fuel without waiting in long queues at the gas stations. One may ponder about the quality of life in the country and think how unhappy people must be. But surprisingly, in a world happiness report, Nigeria had +40 points while United Kingdom had -44!

So, the moot question is – can you be happy even if your life is not perfect? Nigerians are happy–go-lucky people as they are deeply rooted in their communities. This loyalty toward their fellow people makes them comfortable and happy. Radhika related the happiness factor to our job lives. She said that people work for people and not brands. Whether it’s your first job or fifth job, do not join for brands but for being happy. Likewise, employers should also foster an environment which values its workforce. Employees will remain happy and contended which would also keep attrition at bay. Happiness has a longer life than money.  Additionally, her advise was to build communities and not just networks.

Story #3 from United States – Can you ADAPT to hell?

This is the story from 2008 global financial crisis that toppled financial markets all over the world. The Americans showed their true grit and bounced back victoriously. Radhika shared an example of her former employer, AQR Capital Management. It is a great example of a company which changed gears from serving largely the institutional clients to retails clients. After losing most of its assets after 2008 financial crisis,today it boasts of an AUM of 200 billion dollars. While most of the stakeholders are bound to panic in crisis like situations, Radhika suggested that one should remain agile and adapt during crisis and added that “Great companies as well as great careers are built through crisis”.

Story #4 from India – Can you be ON THE ground?

Radhika co-founded Forefront Capital in India and as an entrepreneur she learnt to be on the ground. That meant doing the hardest things herself. She says ‘the Devil is in the details’. However big you are, once you become an entrepreneur, you should be willing to get your hands dirty. No job should be too small. She learnt that being an investment professional was only 20% of the job as an entrepreneur, the other 80% rested in the ability to handle operations, legal, marketing, compliance, etc. Having a broader skill set usually pays off.

Story #5 from Denmark – Can you stay SIMPLE?

Denmark has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, yet its citizens have chosen to live a simple life. Even the senior most leaders commute by bicycles. Likewise, the speaker emphasized on retaining the element of simplicity in businesses also. She suggested that whatever success you get at business, keep yourself simple, keep business simple, and remain grounded and happy.

Viewpoints shared during the Q & A session-

  • On launching a financial start-up– Don’t wait for all pieces to fall in place. Just start!
  • On disruption due to newer technology– Develop soft skills. You cannot claim to have only technical expertise as you need to build skills that cannot be automatable, like leadership, empathy, etc.

Overall, the session provided a great insight on the qualities needed to succeed in financial services industry. Indeed, our ability to adapt to changing environments can make a huge difference in whether we choke or thrive.

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