Launching your career in finance

Contributed by: Meera Siva

The Chennai chapter of the IAIP organised a career event and a panel discussion on launching a career in finance on March 1st. The event was flagged off by S. V. Balachander of JMN Investments who provided an overview of the CFA program in the context of careers in finance, highlighting the growth in candidate enrollment for the program over the years. Then the panel discussion followed which included eminent personalities in the financial industry viz, Krishna Kumar, Head of Equities – Sundaram Mutual Fund, Shankar S, Owner – Credo Capital, Rajesh Babu, Director – Lok Capital, Sarath Reddy, MD & CIO – Unifi Capital, Pravin Rajendran, AVP – MAPE Advisory.

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Excerpts from the panel discussion are as follows.

Krishna Kumar, Head of Equities – Sundaram Mutual Fund

Krishna Kumar described his journey from being an automobile engineer to managing large mutual funds. He emphasized that in addition to fundamentals, soft skills are important for finance professional. Also, the stress levels in the field are very high due to round the clock market events which require constant analysis. At the entry level, while many fund houses such as UTI and Sundaram recruit freshers but taking a job with a brokerage house is beneficial to learn the basics of sell side equity research and then gain entry on the fund side. Additionally, sales, data analysis, trading are options to consider. 

Shankar S, Owner – Credo Capital

Shankar spoke about growing wealth management industry with 12 million high net-worth individuals – defined as those with least $1 million in assets – in the world adding 1 million each year. In India HNIs are growing at the rate of 20% per annum. Wealth managers have to put to use their understanding of various investment products to manage this growing wealth. Client facing roles in private banks are a good starting point for a career in wealth management. Besides keeping abreast with new products in the market, one must be aware of the frequent regulatory changes. 

Rajesh Babu, Director – Lok Capital

Rajesh described the roles played by financial professionals in private equity and venture capital firms. Freshers are typically not recruited in this domain but internship options exist for those who have completed their undergraduate and plan to pursue MBA. Strong fundamentals are a must to get your foot in. As one’s career progresses, the ability to strike a deal by making ends meet becomes important for success. 

Sarath Reddy, MD & CIO – Unifi Capital

Sarath focused on the human frailties associated with the professional career. Everyone must answer these three questions for themselves – who am I, why am I here and where am I going. This will give one guidance on their values and what they enjoy doing. No matter how well procedures are laid out in an organization, at least 50% of the situations that arises would offer a short cut to gains. Only a strong moral grounding will ensure one will do the right thing hence ethics form the foundation for long term success in the finance profession. 

Pravin Rajendran, AVP – MAPE Advisory

Pravin explained the role of an investment banker citing his career as an example on how to make career choices. When choosing between Chennai or Mumbai as a place to work, there are trade-offs to consider. Chennai is a smaller market and the competition among job contenders is high in larger markets such as Mumbai. Few aspects that steer one to success that – work hard, gain knowledge of fundamentals, industry and yourself and make proper career choices.

The event was well received by the enthusiastic audience.  

– M S

About IAIP

India Association of Investment Professionals (IAIP), which is established April 2005 and located in Mumbai, is an association of local investment professionals. As one of the 136 CFA Institute member societies, IAIP connects members to a global network of investment professionals. Consisting of portfolio managers, security analysts, investment advisors, and other financial professionals, IAIP promotes ethical and professional standards within the investment industry, facilitates the exchange of information and opinions among people within the local investment community and beyond, and works to further the public’s understanding of the CFA designation and investment industry.
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