Volunteering Workshop-Delhi

IMG-20190618-WA0014Contributed By: Parvez Abbas, CFA

The Delhi Chapter of CFA Society India organized the Volunteer Orientation Workshop at IBIS hotel, Delhi on 9th June 2019. The event kick-started with a welcome note from Ms. Shivani Chopra, CFA -an active volunteer from Delhi- who shared her volunteering experience. She informed the audience about the numerous events conducted by the Delhi Chapter in the last two years. Mr. Gaurang Trivedi, CEO of CFA Society India took the first session. He talked about the role of volunteers in CFA Society. CFA Society thrives on the contribution and untiring energy of its volunteers globally. They are at the helm of all activities and events. He broadly talked about four pillars of volunteering:

  • Know Yourself – What you are good at and what do you want to improve in yourself?
  • Passion – zeal to work selflessly
  • Time commitment – volunteers need to devote time
  • Building Network

Ms. Arati Porwal, Director, Society Relations, India enlightened the audience about how one can become a volunteer. She explained how one can take benefits of affiliate membership without being a regular member. She narrated anecdotes and experiences of various volunteers. She emphasized on the importance of keeping volunteer profile updated on the CFA Institute website. It was followed by address from Ms. Mansi Panchal, Consultant, who explained the structure of the CFA Society and its various committees. Currently, there are 152 CFA Societies across the globe and volunteers play a key role in their functioning. She advised how one can be a part of the five committees based on ones area of interest.

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The last session of the day was taken by Mr. Jitendra Chawla, CFA and Director of CFA Society India who has been an active volunteer from Delhi for many years. He recounted his volunteer journey and apprised the audience of his learning in all these years. He further explained how volunteering helped him in honing his organizational skills, team management skills and in making lots of friends. He said that unlike the demanding jobs where performance is evaluated on a number of parameters, a volunteer is not judged on his work. Rather volunteering gives an opportunity to contribute to the CFA Society and provides benefits like recognition, sense of achievement, developing leadership, communication and other skills and building connections.

Many people attended the event beating the blistering Delhi heat. They asked a lot of questions which were patiently answered by all the speakers. Thereafter, many signed up for the volunteering opportunities and would be assigned mentors to guide them.

-PA

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Session on “Economics Beyond Headlines” by Vivek Kaul

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Speaker- Vivek Kaul, Author, Easy Money

Contributed By: Vikram Jhawar, CFA

The Pune Chapter of CFA Society India organised a speaker event titled,”Economics beyond headlines” by Mr. Vivek Kaul, author of the book-Easy Money on 31st May 2019.

The speaker started his talk with the indirect effects of economic policy changes with a famous quote –

“The glazier comes, performs his task, receives his six francs, rubs his hands, and, in his heart, blesses the careless child. All this is that which is seen.”

-Bastiat in Essays on Political Economy

The indirect effects of macro-economic policy changes are not always obvious. At times, a well-intentioned policy can be toxic in the long run. The final costs of such policies are often passed on to the consumers.

As an example, the speaker cited a case from February 2016, when the Directorate General of Foreign Trade imposed a minimum import price on 173 steel products to encourage steel consumers to buy Indian steel. The direct effect of this policy was to the benefit of local steel producers and the banks financing these producers. However, as steel is an input to a wide range of industries, the indirect effect of this policy was increased prices of the products of those industries being passed on to the consumers.

The speaker next spoke about GDP being a measure of economic size of a country and the multiplier effect of money contributing to economic activity. The question that followed was-

How do we measure economic activity?

  • Housing Sales: Buying a house is arguably one of the biggest expenditure in an individual’s life. Housing sector has around 250 backward and forward linkages – Cement and other raw materials, labor, steel, sanitary and electrical hardware to name a few.
  • Domestic Car/2-Wheeler Sales: This comes next to housing in terms of expenditure and has a range of input factors.
  • Domestic Tractor Sales: This is particularly important in rural areas. It signifies the growth in agricultural sector.
  • Non-Discretionary Spending: Food, Clothing, FMCG products, Electricity etc. are basic needs and contribute a significant amount to total spending.

Next, the speaker talked about common ways adopted by governments and central banks to overcome a slowdown in GDP growth or even a recession.

How to overcome a slowdown?

  • Fiscal Expansion: Government increases its spending, lowers direct and indirect taxes to aid the growth in economy. However, as governments around the world have unlimited power to print their currencies, it could lead to overspending and prove detrimental in the long run as government debts pile up.
  • Monetary expansion: Central banks can reduce interest rates thereby making loans cheaper and encouraging business & personal spending.

The speaker pointed out a problem with Expansionary Fiscal Policy. As government spends more, it needs to borrow more. As it borrows more, less money is available to loan to businesses and individuals thereby shooting up the interest rates. This means that it might be difficult to carry out an expansionary fiscal policy and a loose monetary policy at the same time.

The speaker concluded with an interesting observation on why inflation in India in recent quarters, although reported low as per CPI (Consumer Price Index), doesn’t feel like one. The reason for this is the fall in food inflation. Food & Beverages weigh over 40% in CPI basket, which might not be indicative of actual expense on food for most population, especially in urban areas. Given that food inflation has averaged less than 5% in recent times, the overall inflation is skewed downwards.

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2nd Financial Talent Summit (#FTS2) – CFA Society India: Highlights and Learnings

Contributed By : Udai Cheema

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Eric Sim in conversation with Jitendra Chawla at FTS2

Recently I attended the 2nd Financial Talent Summit organised by CFA Society India on 27th April 2019 at The Leela Palace, New Delhi. Through their high-quality content, these events have been able to build a fine reputation amongst the participants which was evident from the full house at the venue. What was special about this particular event was its unique theme and the ‘pain point’ it addressed by providing guidance to the young professionals trying to build a career in the world of finance.

Here are some of the highlights and learnings from the various speakers at this knowledge cum networking fest;
Topic 1 – Conference opening and welcome

Anil Ghelani – Vice President CFA Society India  & Senior Vice President, DSP Investment Managers
  • CFA Institute provides a platform where the investment professionals can engage and continue to share even after they have progressed to doing bigger things in their respective careers after attaining CFA Charter. It’s like an alumni platform where candidates can come back from time to time in order to connect with their alma mater and also give back to the society by way of providing guidance to the younger members.
  • The CFA Institute members come from various facets of the finance world with years of experience adding value to the community. CFA Society India is a platform run by volunteers which in itself is an amazing feat as the society has been doing so much in terms of events, awareness and so on. He urged more members to volunteer in order to take this endeavour forward.
  • Anil stressed the importance of enrolling on the career portal of CFA Society India. Updation of their CV on the career portal could potentially open a wide range of opportunities for the candidates and the charter holders as they will get exposure to a large number of employers from the finance industry already present at the portal. It provides tremendous networking power to the candidates as well as the employers. Job alerts feature at the career portal helps you get real-time updates if anything has opened up which matches your desired criteria for a job profile.
  • Even candidates can become members of the CFA Society India, it’s not mandatory to have a CFA Charter to become a member. You simply need to register as a member at the CFA Society India website and pay the annual membership fee. Members have the privilege to attend most of the events organised by CFA Society India for free and they can get access to all the digital content created by the CFA Institute such as the career portal etc. Candidate members are not permitted to write CFA in their title and they cannot vote, rest all facilities are equally accessible to all the members regardless of the type of membership.

 

Vidhu Shekhar – Country Head, India, CFA Institute
  • Vidhu urged the candidates to utilise all the free resources that the CFA Institute has made available for the candidates and also use this platform to network, find guides/mentors to help them on their journey as finance professionals.
  • Introduced the term ‘intentional career management’ which simply emphasises that one needs to actively manage one’s career and look for the right opportunities to make it a success. This one quote from him was instrumental in driving his message home;

When you are ready, you will find teachers all around you!

Topic 2 – CFA Institute career services and tools
Arati Porwal – Director, Society Relations, CFA Institute
Sachin Naik – Manager, Institutional Partnerships, CFA Institute
  • Ingredients for a successful career: Mastery of technical skillsMastery of soft skills & Intentional career management.
  • Technical skills: what the CFA curriculum teaches i.e gathering, understanding and analysing data.
  • Soft Skills: technical skills might get redundant over time or fall prey to automation. It is the soft skills that can be the differentiator in that case. These include communication skills, leadership skills, networking skills and so on.
  • Intentional Career Management: this entails acquiring the skills, experiences which will get you closer to your goals. These decisions cant be left to destiny, they must be intentional.
  • Live learning tools: Monthly webinars, Live events like FTS2, workshops, masterclasses and conferences. Attending live events such as this one is the best way to network with the community and expand your horizon.
  • Online learning tools: Career tools, videos & podcasts, curriculum/refresher reading and articles, advocacy and thought leadership, India career guide and career centre.
  • India career guide and career centre are the specific tools which can help bridge the gap and create awareness about what’s out there and what skill needs to be acquired to achieve the desired positions/roles in your respective field of specialisation.
  • The career guide is a compilation of the journey of some of the eminent charterholders in their respective areas of expertise. 12-13 verticals are covered under this year’s career guide with a goal that it will act as a roadmap for the candidates while navigating their careers.
  • These career success tools help in three ways: they help choose a direction, help customize your resume which aligns with the direction that you wish to take and help receive personalised coaching as a number of global & local coaches are being added to this platform to help out the young talent.
  • CFA Asia Pacific Research Exchange: It is a global platform where you can find research reports and can publish your own reports. Various industry organisations, educational institutes and CFA charterholders are already using this website actively for research purposes.
  • Career webinars organised by CFA Institute can be of great help to young professionals stepping into the world of finance. Also, every fortnight on Thursday 5:30 – 6:30 pm ist, there is a practitioner insights webinar that is conducted regularly.
  • Click [Here] to watch an insightful video on career services and tools by the speakers, uploaded on the CFA Society India youtube channel.
  • Some other useful links are [link 1],[link 2],[link3].

Topic 3 – Building your online presence and brand 

Eric Sim, CFA – Founder, Institute of life
  • Deepak Mundra, who was anchoring the event, posted a great question to the audience before Eric took the stage. The question was;

Is social media a product for us or are we the product for social media?

  •  Eric shared his unique and inspiring journey that took him from being a hawker on the streets to an investment banker, a teacher, an entrepreneur and a social media sensation that he is today. This session was focused on how we can maximise the power of social media especially LinkedIn to our advantage rather than the other way around.
  • Shivani Chopra, CFA has already written a succinct summary of Eric’s session at the CFA Society India’s blog. So, I would recommend you to read the article as it captures the important points from Eric’s talk quite nicely. Click [Here] to read.
  • From my personal interactions with Eric at the event, I could gather that the key to him being able to successfully juggle so many things at the same time (investment banking, teaching, business & social media presence) is his ‘extreme focus on time management’ by eliminating needless small decisions that are to be made during the day which can easily by automated instead. Much like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, Eric wears only white shirts. He wears shoes without laces, has multiple pieces of same coloured/designed suits, wears no tie, buys his quota of daily non-perishable supplies once for the whole year, at all times he has his travel gear packed and ready to go, stays at the same hotel at each destination in order to reduce the time wasted on choosing an accommodation. He keeps no meetings before 2:30 pm as he believes that the morning hours are for himself and for doing creative work. He schedules everything on his calendar and then makes sure that he sticks to it. He likes to bunch his meetings which increases productivity. In a nutshell, it is this intentional effort and mindfulness that sets Eric apart in terms of productivity and gaining the most out of his day. As I see it, its a snowball effect as one life hack leads to another then another allowing the column of achievements to keep on growing.

Think big, Start small, Act now – Eric Sim

 

Topic 4 – Building a successful career in financial services

Radhika Gupta – CEO, Edelweiss Asset Management
  • The best lessons that she learnt as a professional have not been from the finance world but from her travels and that was the theme of her talk.
  • Her father was into Indian Foreign Services(IFS) which meant that he was posted for three years in a country in the better part of the world and the subsequent three years had to be served in a not so privileged nation, he was aware of this fact when he signed up for the service. Radhika used this analogy and extrapolated it to the markets, if you have decided to invest in equities, that means you have signed up for bull and bear market both as they are inseparable then why fret over the markets going down as they will eventually go up.
  • Italians love their coffee and till today they don’t have a single Starbucks or a Pizzahut in Italy. Italians are quite laid back as a country but the important thing is that they know themselves and what they want very well. This is precisely the reason why none of these big pizza & coffee MNCs have been able to set up shop in Italy as Italians like to have their pizzas and coffee in their own traditional ethnic way. The lesson to be learnt here is that in your profession, there is something that you extremely good at, you need to identify and run with it. Cherish your uniqueness and make it your strength. First, you need to recognise those one or two things that you are exceptional at and then the world will too in due course. Women inherently bring a unique skill set to the financial industry. They need to realise this and go from strength to strength.
  • Nigeria exports oil to the world but there is perpetually a shortage of oil for it’s own citizens who need to stand in lines for hours to get some if they are lucky and there are plenty of other problems that the country is facing as we keep reading in the newspapers but at the international airport in Nigeria, a sign reads ‘welcome to the happiest country on earth’. Ironically, their claim of being the happiest is true and it has been proven by a number of research studies. Why is it so? It’s because of the strong sense of community that prevails in Nigeria. Communities create a lot of happiness like the one we belong to at CFA Institute. So, one of the most important aspects to look at before taking up a job is the culture and the community of the organisation because you must seek happiness in any career you choose, this can come from a dream job but equally, it can be derived from working with great people. At the same time, try to build culture/communities that value people where ever you work, so that people are happy to work with you and freshers feel delighted to join your organisation.
  • From her experience of going through the global financial crisis while being employed at a hedge fund in the USA, she learnt the power of coming back stronger from adversity. Her firm laid off plenty of people and the fund itself lost billions of dollars from being a 40 billion dollar fund at its peak. Regardless of so much global turmoil, the fund today stands at 200 billion dollars. Her observation from her experiences in the US has been that no matter how hard they are hit by adversity such as 9/11 or GFC 2008, the Americans possess tremendous strength to bounce back stronger than ever. Finance is a profession where we need to constantly adapt and come back stronger, plenty of doomsday kind of events have come and gone but the world doesn’t end, does it? Infact, there is a lot of wisdom in the quote she mentioned;

Never waste a great crisis as great companies and great careers are built in a crisis.

  • In the business of investing and wealth management, the devil lies in the details. This business is not won in the plush board rooms rather it is won in the trenches. You also need to know your compliances, operations, marketing along with knowing your investments. The mantra for success in this profession is to build a broadly based skillset. Even if you are a specialist, know the details about other departments as well. With this quote, Radhika conveyed a critical leadership hack;

If you are the leader of a team, do the hardest part yourself

  • Denmark taught her a lesson in Simplicity. Denmark is one of the highest per capita countries in the world but everybody prefers to cycle to reach their destination within the city, no matter how rich they are. In fact, the traffic lights in Denmark are designed in such a way that they equally facilitate pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles but this might not be the case in some other countries where the man with the bigger car supposedly rules the street. So, one must retain a sense of simplicity and humbleness, no matter how big one gets. As AI and technology take over, the art of making things simple is going to be of tremendous value.

Keep yourself simple, keep your business simple and things usually work out

  • In this industry, we are quick to share our successes but we hesitate to talk about our failures but what we don’t realise is that people connect better to our human side which invariably makes mistakes rather than a window-dressed barrage of achievement displayed one after the other.  Every epic/saga has its ups and downs and the same is true for our lives, so acknowledge your mistakes, learn from them and be open about them because that’s what makes us human.
  • To learn more about Radhika’s journey, click [here] for another inspirational talk by her. She sure does practice what she preaches.

 

The networking session
  • This session was quite special as the candidates got an opportunity to clear their doubts and speak their minds on a one to one basis with the senior members of the fraternity present at the conference.
  • Each round table was hosted by one of the speakers at the event. Anybody who wished to have their personal or professional queries answered from them could do so by joining that particular table.
  • The plethora of questions that came to foray showed that besides academics, mentorship is the need of the hour. CFA Institute recognises that as it’s evident from the networking sessions like this one and the overall theme of the conference dedicated to creating awareness amongst their students.

 

Topic 5 – Panel Discussion: Future of work in wealth management

Ashish Kashyap – Founder & CEO, INDwealth.in, Soumya Rajan – Founder, MD & CEO, Waterfield Advisors, Rajendra Kalur – Management Consultant and Board Advisor

  • In a population of 1.25 billion, we have only 16 million active demat accounts, this itself shows how much underpenetration exists in this space and efforts must be made to reach out to more and more people to create awareness but there is a definite shift happening in the investor behaviour here in India in the last couple of years. People are moving away from saving in physical assets to financial assets. As more formalisation, policy changes, regulations, transparency are implemented, this trend change could turn out to be a structural and long-lasting phenomenon.
  • Key drivers for the rapid evolution of the Indian economy going ahead are the favourable demographics, GDP growth, technology adoption, scalable business models. If we continue to grow at a scale that China did since the early 70s, simply by growing at 7% the wealth effect will be immense, creating many more wealthy individuals in the economy.
  • We are at a nascent stage as far as the wealth management in India is concerned. Most of the market is created by institutional players and retail participation in India is much lower compared to the other developed economies. The democratisation of data and information has played a significant role in creating more transparency and investor awareness in recent times.
  • Painful personal experience with the handling of his investments by professionals, realising that there is actually a problem of data science i.e how financial raw data is processed, analysed and interpreted and the need to bring all the aspects of personal finance under one roof were some of the reasons that made Ashish setup INDwealth. In fact, it was the general inefficiencies in the current wealth management industry that were experienced by Soumya and Rajendra during their respective careers that inspired them to set up their own ventures in order to better the process of how we do things.
  • According to Soumya, one should strive to find the best solution for the client no matter where it is rather than recommending a product just because it is part of the approved list which can sometimes be difficult in an institutional setting. Today the industry is changing and clients are looking for good professionals, timely solutions, honesty, integrity and transparency in the way their wealth is managed. We as investment professionals should fundamentally try to stick to these values and try to keep things simple for our clients. Along with intelligence, employers are now looking for professionals who also possess a high EQ which makes them more client oriented.
  • According to Rajendra, we need to be cognizant of the fact that we are handling our client’s life’s savings which he has not only kept aside for himself but for his future generations as well. So, this endeavour deserves and requires expertise, focus and undivided attention from the professionals in the wealth management industry. With the kind of wealth that has been created and will be created in future, building and grooming the right kind of talent pool will be the most critical aspect that the financial industry needs to actively work on. The CFA program lends quite well to these basic fundamental pre-requisites for becoming a wealth management professional as the curriculum lays a lot of stress on upholding high ethical standards and a sense of responsibility towards clients.
  • Professionals aided by technology is the way forward. Use of technology creates time for professionals to work on softer aspects of wealth management such as working with the clients, understanding their needs, handholding them in tough times and so on. Advisory and Distribution, both the models will co-exist in India but we need to make sure there is no conflict of interest when we are recommending financial products to our clients.
  • Click [here] to read more about this session at the CFA Society India’s blog.
Topic 6 – Shaping your career, your own way

Deepak Sawhney – Executive Coach, Story Teller & Founder – Phrenimos
  • In order to understand how to build a career, one must be clear about the definition of a career. A career is much more long term, a job is a way to build a career. One goes through a series of jobs to build a desired career over time.
  • He shows an interesting video where people are stranded on an escalator which has stopped working midway and they sit there waiting for someone to come and fix it. With this video, Deepak wanted to convey the message to the audience that gone are the days when you could just step into an organisation and overtime your career was built by simply working within that organisation. In today’s world, you need to take proactive steps and climb those stairs yourself as the career escalators don’t exist anymore.
  • Some trends which are shaping up that might create career opportunities include blockchain related jobs, rising number of freelancers which is expected to reach 50% of the workforce by 2027 as per a study, ‘gig economy’ is on it’s way up where people with unique talents are hired by organisations for a specific purpose and once the job is done, the person moves onto a next gig. These freelancers are networking amongst themselves which allows them to work together on a project which requires two or more unique skillsets. Generally, when people find answers to problems themselves it motivates them to take action but that might not be the case if the solution comes to them in the form of advice from someone, so you must try to explore these trends on your own to make the most of this opportunity.
  •  The world is changing quite fast, changes that used to take 10-20 years in the past are now happening in 2-3 years. So we need to actively train ourselves to adapt to these changes. That makes training ourselves and continuous learning a must in this day and age. Deepak spends a substantial amount of time and money to keep upgrading his knowledge and advised the audience to dedicate at least 10% of their income each year to this endeavour. Education, as he puts it, is simply having a passport that makes you eligible for a job but a visa i.e proven proficiency in a skillset (like certifications etc) will actually help you land a job of your choosing. So the important question is;

What are the stamps available on your career passport

The thicker your career passport gets in terms of certifications, skills, experiences more it’s going to matter in making your career a success.

  • We live in a ‘VUCA World’  these days where V stands for volatileU stands for uncertaintyC stands for complexity and Astands for ambiguity. It’s important to understand this term because the emergence of new trends and their adoption these days is happening so fast that it’s made the world VUCA. In order to adapt to a VUCA world, first and foremost we need to have a vision of our career i.e what and where do you want to be 4-5 years from now. So, sit back and try to define what success looks like for you one year, three years and five years down the line from a career perspective. While answering that question keep in mind that success should be determined by the amount of value you add to the people associated with you such as your clients, stakeholder etc. rather than simply achieving a higher designation in your organisation.
  • The role of mentors on our lives can’t be stressed enough. Everybody should have at least a minimum of five mentors. Once you have a vision in place, you will need a sounding board and these are those people who have done in the past what you are trying to do now. They know what it takes to be there. Multiple mentors help you get multiple perspectives, each mentor has his own unique strengths which makes the amalgamation of advice much richer. People are limited by their own experiences, so you may need a diversified group of mentors to guide you on your journey. Deepak requested the CFA Society India to initiate some sort of mentorship program where the seasoned professionals from the industry can help mentor the young talent.
  • Besides having a vision, another big question you need to ask yourselves is;

Are you discoverable?

  • If somebody is looking for a person with the skill set that you possess, can they find you? If the answer to that is no, then go out and make yourself discoverable. Meet people, put your profiles online but more importantly build your online presence. A lot of employers these days are looking at your social media profiles such as Facebook, LinkedIn etc. There is something known as the ‘law of weak acquaintances’, it is these people who actually help you land a job. One must strive to build a network of at least a hundred such weak acquaintances with whom you might be just exchanging season’s greetings or a message off and on but they are a part of your life in some way. The way to build this network is to go to a lot of conferences and events where these people come and you should be able to convey to them what you are looking for. Along with mentors, have advisors in your life. These are those people that have connections and can open doors to new and unique opportunities for you.
  • Along with mentors and advisors have coaches as well in your life. A coach helps you think better, coaches help you find answers to your problems and help you get rid of your own limiting beliefs. Deepak ended his talk with this thought-provoking quote;

Everything happens twice

By this, he meant that anything you wish to accomplish has to happen at two levels, once in the mind and then in reality. So, if it doesn’t happen in the mind first, it cant be turned into a reality.

  • Lastly, he shared a great growth/productivity hack that works by simply keeping our resume up-to-date. Once write your detailed resume and then every six months look at that resume and see if you can add anything new to it. If you have nothing to add to your resume in six months time then you are essentially not progressing.

 

Conclusion:

It is commonly said that there is a dearth of ‘skilled’ professionals these days in every field even though there are plenty of educated individuals around. But the irony is that no one is trying to find the reason for this. In my view, if an individual turns out to be unskilled even after passing through our education system then it’s not his/her fault rather it is the fault of the system and the lack of mentorship which has led to this helpless situation.

On the other hand, there are some organisations like the CFA Institute which recognises this problem and with such conferences, they are attempting to address this issue by creating awareness among their candidates about the possibilities that await them. Meeting the senior members from the industry makes it easier for the candidates to envision what their future might look like and what is expected from them as they pursue their journey as a professional. It was heartening to see the senior faculty members share their business cards with the young candidates if they ever needed help or guidance in the future. It is this level of openness and mentorship which will help create skilled individuals of the future and not the mindless rote memorization of textbooks that has become the norm at most colleges these days.

Right piece of advice at the right time has the power to change the trajectory of one’s career & life

 

A big thank you to all the speakers, volunteers and CFA Society India for organising such a high-quality event, both in terms of rich-content and meticulous arrangements. Cheers!

(This write-up was originally published on -https://www.investorsingh.com/2nd-financial-talent-summit-fts2-cfa-society-india-highlights-and-learnings/)

 

 

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Session on “Shaping your Career, Your Own way” by Deepak Sawhney – 2nd Financial Talent Summit, Delhi 2019

Shaping your Career, Your Own way

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Speaker: Deepak Sawhney, Executive Coach and Story teller, Founder, Phrenimos

Moderator: Parijat Garg, CFA, Portfolio Manager, Quadeye securities

Written By: Jyoti Soni, CFA

 

Deepak Sawhney is a veteran coach, motivational speaker and people’s person. He interacted with almost every participant during networking time post-lunch.  He took no time to understand the problem areas and career requirements of CFA candidates and members and suggested them practical solutions.

He started his presentation with an interesting small video clip, wherein two people stepped on an escalator but unfortunately, they got stuck in between as escalator suddenly stopped due to some technical failure. They preferred to call someone for help instead of getting off the escalator themselves which further complicated their problem. His point was that jobs today are not the escalators like they used to be, where you got on at the bottom and they carried you to the top if you just stayed on it. He asked the audience, what they thought about career and how it should be defined. People came up with different views like career means job progress, developing skill set, monetary reward, or series of job.   He put it rightly, “career is the long path or journey of our work life”.  Deepak told that it is foremost important for a professional to have career vision in clear quantitative terms. One should know, what one would like to achieve in next 5 years and next 10 years.

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Next he explained four trends evolving in the job Market:

  1. Blockchain: Block chain technology advancement has simplified issues like salary processing, tax issues management of offshore employees.  Many large and medium size companies are implementing new technology for their offshore offices and human resource management. Today, companies can easily expand operations beyond their home country. Eventually, professionals should look for these newly created opportunities.
  2. Contractual Jobs: For all Fortune 500 companies and other big corporates, there is a clear shift to employ human resources from payroll jobs to contractual job roles. This helps the organization to be more agile with limited liability.
  3. Flexible jobs: Companies have changed their employment approach. They do not want all fix/ permanent employees in fast changing world. Companies are looking for competent and talented people in the specialized areas and introducing flexible opportunities for skilled people. Companies are ready to take work from remotely located employees
  4. Networking: Freelancers and job searchers are using networking portals to seek opportunities

Deepak suggested, a job seeker should eventually understand above trends and explore most suitable opportunities for oneself. Then he started a new chapter, that how to define a successful career and command your professional life. He opined a monotonous work without any new learning does not add any value to someone’s career, so this kind of work experience is not of much use. He emphasized on vital ingredients for career recipe, as below:

  1. 101 Hours of training each year:  It is imperative to invest time on your learning. Everyone should engage in at least 101 hours of trainings in a year which is required for the next level growth.
  2. Work experience Visa: One’s education & professional certifications are like his or her passport. These certifications make him eligible to stand in a job queue only. However, he cannot get a job offer without required skills like soft-skills, technical skills and work experience. He stated that the requisite skill sets and work experience are like visa stamps on the passport. These stamps are mandatory to receive a job offer. Hence, it is important to verify, how many such stamps you have on your passport.
  3. World is “VUCA”: World today is Volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. One should accept this very fact and be well prepared to face difficult situations.
  4. Have a Mentor: Professionals should seek for mentorship for next move in his career. One should identify technical knowledge or education required at a stage of his career. Role of a mentor is crucial for providing right direction and also helps in leveraging the skill sets for career growth.
  5. Social Media Profile: One’s social media profile, Linkedin, Facebook are used by the employers to reach out required candidature. Today, recruiters evaluate candidate with their social media profile. More than 60% of the recruitments are fulfilled with the support of social media. It’s imperative to have your strong profile presentation at social media.
  6. Have a Coach: A coach is the one who help you to understand yourself. Since most of the times, we are busy with our work and a routine lifestyle and we hardly have time to be conscious about our inner self. Our limiting believes can hold us back. A coach can stretch our boundaries and guide us in right direction for building right career
  7. Weak Acquaintances: Weak Acquaintances are those people, to whom we meet incidentally in an event or through social media contacts. We greet them occasionally on New Year, birthday or some festival. These acquaintances may turn very helpful at times, if we do not hesitate to share our need with them. Any of them can introduce a great opportunity to you.
  8. Keep your resume updated: Everyone irrespective of whether you are looking for a job or not, should update his resume after every six months. When, you don’t have any new certification, skill, Learning, work experience to add in your resume after six months, this means you are stagnant in your career.

When Deepak was asked, why he chose to become a professional coach and left his successful corporate career, he shared his own career story. He told that he always enjoyed his work and climbed the career ladder just the way he planned. When he was at a senior position, he loved to guide and train his team like a coach. He helped them to understand their key competence and goals, by questioning them. Questioning process is thought provoking, works like a catalyst for self-motivation. He opined if a good leader coaches his team rightly, it leads to wonderful outcomes. Deepak had proven coaching skill and passion about training and now this has become his key focus area for rest of his life.

At the end, Deepak again explained the steps which every professional should follow. First and foremost step is to have a clear vision of the career path, second step is to understand his natural strength and build it further, the third step is to work towards his career vision and to acquire the required skills along with keeping oneself updated, fourth step will be to invest money and time in himself and finally make yourself available at social media and look for right opportunity.

 

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“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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Market Outlook- May 2019 by Navneet Munot,CFA

Navneet Munot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contributed By : Navneet Munot, CFA, CIO, SBI Funds Management Pvt Ltd and Chairman, CFA Society India

Market Outlook-
India has had a long NPA cycle playing out in its banking system starting 2012. Just as the market was getting hopeful on withering away of banking sector stress, the other financial arm, namely NBFC sector saw the signs of stress. Default by the IL&FS acted as a catalyst and increased the concerns on liquidity and asset-liability management (ALM) mismatch for other NBFCs and HFCs.

The non-banking financial sector was a beneficiary of formalization, digitalization and financialization of the economy at a time when banking sector was facing challenges. Surplus liquidity conditions post demonetization helped the sector immensely. Consequently, we saw a handsome increase in credit disbursement by them. In the last one year however, the re-monetization was rather fast and the inter-bank liquidity gyrated from surplus to deficit by 2H 2018. Further, crude prices rose, foreign capital inflow weakened and rupee depreciated prompting RBI to hike rates in 2018. Combination of these factors sucked out cheap money, creating challenges on managing both liability and asset side for these entities.

If global history is any guide, liquidity crisis not handled well can translate into some sort of solvency crisis. Since the IL&FS default in September 2018, nearly Rs. 7 trillion of debt has been downgraded by various rating agencies. A handful of them have seen steep downgrades in a very short span of time. A part of corporate India, particularly promoter entities with higher leverage, is also facing the stress. The real challenge for markets will be when liquidity risk intersects with default risk, which could then amplify credit risk into a downturn and have contagion effect.

Presently, the risk aversion has heightened amongst all the key market participants and policy makers need to act swiftly. The system needs three-pronged approach at macro level, a) reduction in cost of funds, b) massive liquidity injection and c) backstop arrangement for the illiquid assets. Thankfully, benign inflationary environment offers ample space for easing. But transmission of monetary easing can only happen in the environment of easy liquidity.

The US adopted Troubled Asset Relief program during 2008 crisis wherein the government purchased toxic assets and equity from the financial institutions to strengthen the financial sector. Similarly, the Eurozone had longer-term refinancing options (LTRO) which enabled cheaper funds to financial institutions by keeping these troubled assets as collateral. India too needs to think fast, bold and creative and provide some sort of backstop arrangement.

Simultaneously, at a micro level, this needs to be complemented with entity level resolution. For example, during 2008 crisis, some entities had to go under (Lehman), while swift solutions were found for rest of the system (for example, Wachovia was bought by Well Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley saw capital infusion by influential investors, Government infused capital in AIG and CITI).

Over the years, with improved digitalization, the access to credit has improved. But we still have a long way to go. India’s credit as (% of GDP) is low and financial system will need to deepen a lot more. The NBFEs have played a significant role in financial inclusion. Some of them successfully have grown into Small Finance Banks and Scheduled banks. These non-banking players are typically seen to have stronger niche in credit origination, credit appraisals, risk assessment and recovery. They have built a network, systems and processes for origination, particularly in the unorganized sector. But they face challenge on building a stable liability side. Further, the refinancing options and the line of liquidity to them are not as strong as the banks. India’s wholesale funding market has not grown in line with the size of the economy.

On the other hand, the banking system, particularly the PSU banks have a very strong liability side. While the banks benefit from cheap and relatively sticky liabilities base, the non-banking financial entities have displayed better expertise in building asset side and reaching out to the unbanked individuals and entities.

The policy makers need to capitalize on the differentiated skill set of both these entities. The development of securitization market can help. The assets originated by NBFCs/HFCs can be pooled together and subscribed to by banks, insurance, mutual fund and pension funds as per their risk taking ability. Globally, ABS/MBS are a very large market supporting the growth of the economy.

Concentration of risk and ALM mismatch has landed India into the NPA issues time and again, be it the NPAs in DFIs, late 90’s and the current cycle of NPA in banking system and the recent challenges with NBFEs. Even the credit risk funds in the mutual fund, which take exposure to illiquid assets are vulnerable to redemptions at short notice.

Turning to the global experience again, the solution lies in developing the Alternate Investment Fund (AIF) market, where we have patient capital with highly specialized skill-set. These funds can channelize a part of long-term savings with higher risk appetite which in turn will fund the kind of assets that had so far been funded by banks/
NBFCs/ mutual funds. Apart from private equity and venture capital, we are witnessing higher participation of AIFs in other illiquid asset classes like distressed debt and commercial real estate. This is a healthy shift, but we need a substantially higher size and diversification in their participation.

As we said, the current solution lies in improved and cheaper availability of funds and a more targeted approach at entity level. We also need to revive the growth momentum. Currently, the lack of robust profitability in the corporates had lengthened their deleveraging process. Particularly, the challenges in the real estate sector had kept
the asset prices stagnant and hence the relative debt levels higher. Hence, a focus to revive real estate sector and the overall economy in general is also much needed.
After the system is back to normal, we should not lose focus on the long-term structural reforms, better capitalization of financial entities, right set of prudential regulation, stricter supervision, and a robust risk management system. Structural reforms and further development is needed in money market, corporate bond market space and also at the institutional level (including banks, mutual funds, pension funds, insurance, auditors, NBFEs and rating agencies). Greater access should be given to the foreign investors who will bring in not only much needed savings but also best practices. Good reforms of the recent years like JAM trinity and MPC framework can structurally catalyze the financialization of household savings in India. India is a capital deficient country with large infrastructure and long-term investment needs. Against this backdrop, people’s faith in capital market should not be allowed to falter under any circumstances. A focus on long term picture instead of knee-jerk and piece-meal reactionary response is critical.

India needs disintermediation. If the intermediation between savers and lenders is done by banking system alone, then we may end up concentrating the risk in the banking system where there is “implicit” guarantee by the sovereign (given the public perception that a banking entity will not be allowed to default). A growing, large economy actually needs an efficient risk sharing mechanism and not hyper concentration.

Financial sector and a part of corporate India are facing tough times while the economic growth has also slowed down. Pro-active measures taken swiftly and boldly can reverse the ongoing challenges and put India back on a much-awaited cyclical uptick. India has a host of positives to its side such as relatively lower credit to GDP for the system as a whole (the extent of leverage was much higher in US, Eurozone, China and other EMs facing similar issues). Corporate non-financial sector has deleveraged their balance-sheet over last four years and has both the need and ability to undertake capex activity, thus propelling growth. Inflationary environment is benign and favor monetary easing. The positives of the recent structural reforms are yet to play out and there is an inherent support to demand in India. Financial stability is more important than ever to keep growth trajectory right.
Navneet Munot
CIO – SBI Funds Management Private Limited
May 7, 2019

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Panel Discussion: Future of Work in Wealth Management at 2nd Financial Talent Summit, Delhi -2019

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Industry Expert Panelists: 1) Ashish Kashyap, founder & CEO of INDwealth 2) Soumya Rajan, Founder, MD & CEO Waterfield Advisors 3) Rajendra Kalur, CFA, Management consultant & Board member for CFA Society India

Discussion moderated by: Gaurav Kaushik, CFA ,Associate Director, Kotak Wealth Management

Written By : Jyoti Soni, CFA

The 2nd Financial Talent Summit held in Delhi saw an active participation from more than two hundred delegates. The momentum continued post lunch when the panel discussion started on the eagerly awaited topic – “Future of work in wealth Management”.

Gaurav initiated the discussion by highlighting the rapid growth that has taken place in the wealth management industry recently. The AUM of the Indian mutual fund industry grew more than 3 times from INR 8 lakh crore to INR 25 lakh crore in the last 4 years. More remarkably, India’s Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) size jumped multi-fold from INR 6 thousand crore in 2015 to INR 2 lakh crore today. In the post demonetisation era, the structural landscape has changed for better and the industry is expected to grow at a double-digit rate until 2025. Formalization of Industry has resulted in an acceptance of investment vehicles from physical assets to financial assets. This transition can be attributed to several reasons like –

  • Acceptance of financial securities as collateral: Earlier, the business community would invest heavily in real estate as it was the most acceptable security by the banks while approving business loans. Today, for the same purpose, banks are giving equal weight to the ownership in financial securities. Subsequently, businessmen have shifted their investments to financial securities for better returns and liquidity.
  • Building a diversified portfolio: Ploughing back of profits was a common practice followed by the promoters but now they are open to diversify their portfolio to achieve optimal results.
  • Better Estate Planning: Today, family owned businesses have a very clear succession plan. If the family is not interested or competent to manage the business, they would not hesitate to look for sale opportunities. The proceeds received from sale are often invested in financial instruments with the help of competent wealth managers.
  • Emergence of family offices: A culture of family office has emerged since the last four years and this trend is expected to continue

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Ashish mentioned that even today we have only 16 million demat accounts for a population of 1.25 billion people. He further opined that even big players are just scratching the surface.  Industry is highly under penetrated despite presence of many organized wealth management platforms which have been launched in last 10 years. He recalled the pain points that he had to face as a customer that led him to eventually get into this business and focus his products to be more client centric.  Ashish strongly advocated that future of the wealth management industry would be driven by technology i.e. Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning (ML). Technology will enable an environment for a) data science, b) accessibility and democratization of information, c) cost-efficient structure d) convenience of personalized service. It was suggested that a customer should be first convinced for trust, governance, seamless transaction service and transparency before adopting a wealth management platform.

Rajendra Kalur shared the changes he has seen in the ways investment advisors approach their clients today from the time he made a shift from being an employee with some of the big wealth advisors to an entrepreneur. He mentioned that earlier the role of an investment advisor and a sales personnel was performed by the same person and products were sold on commission basis. The situation has changed for better now. The investment advisors in his advisory firm are dutiful, sector agnostic, fund agnostic and ethical. An investment advisor should be trustworthy and capable of bringing solutions to the client.  He believes that the CFA level-3 exam curriculum provides a very good guide on how to go about the wealth management process. Also the importance of ethics is instilled deeply into the candidates as the program progresses from the first level to the third level. Ethics lays a foundation for a long term sustainable advisory relationship.  He also highlighted the expertise that an investment advisory board can bring to a large client.

Soumya Rajan emphasized further to the right service level of a wealth manager. She believes that an advisor needs to have a good balance of IQ & EQ. A wealth management company should not be like a manufacturer of financial products and then as an advisor on the same products as this leads to conflict of interest and misselling. Rather a wealth manager should aspire to find the best solution for the client. A manager should understand client’s investment limitations and goals and set his expectations right. This will make him a successful wealth manager.

To conclude, the role of new emerging wealth management platforms and boutique wealth managers is very critical. Wealth management industry needs many boutique wealth managers to serve the large untapped base of clients. CFA curriculum is globally recognized for high standards of ethics and best technical knowledge. CFA charter holders are capable of imparting good services to their clients. Today’s wealth managers require adoption of technology for efficiently serving their customers. India’s GDP growth of 7% p.a. and an under penetrated market promises a big show ahead for this industry.

 

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