- April 18, 2022
- Posted by: CFA Society India
- Category:In Conversation With
Industry Expert: Shamit Chokshi, Senior Volunteer, CFA Society India
Interviewed By: Tarun Gopal, Member, Public Awareness Committee, CFA Society India
Tarun: You’ve been a volunteer with CFA Society India, working on various initiatives in the past. How would you define your volunteering journey and how it has helped you?
Shamit: I’ve always considered the CFA Society as a think tank where everyone brings unique experiences and perspectives from the investing world. Each of us can get recharged and enlightened so as to take back these deep insights to our respective careers. In the initial years, I realized that it is a professional community with collective knowledge so deep that it makes even the most seasoned professionals humbled of their pedigree.
Volunteering provided me an opportunity to improve my professional communication skills, since we frequently meet a group of people with shared interests. Whether you are debating on consultation paper views in the Research and Advocacy group, or evaluating investment topics for members’ professional learning, volunteering provided me with a ready platform to practice skills relevant to our day jobs such as problem solving, project management, teamwork and we enjoy thriving in a culture of varied opinions and views on investment topics.
In my experience, volunteering can help you to make friends, connect with the professional community, learn new skills, and potentially advance your career.
As a self-improvement guide, I’m always trying to be better than the average of five people around me in the investing field, and volunteering at the society is one of the key influencers for my future ideas in asset management. Of course, once you’ve honed some of the above skills, it’s much easier to experiment with them at work and hopefully optimize our careers.
Tarun: Tell us about your day job and how you balance work and volunteering?
Shamit: My role at a large asset manager involves strategically growing the firm’s international asset management capabilities to manage global funds across asset classes and markets. It’s a combination of desk based research, interactions with fund managers, product specialists and fellow investment decision makers at asset owners around the world, who are looking at co-managing India focused funds or seek an opportunity to offer global equities to investors in India through local mutual funds.
Volunteering at the society was a logical transition for me, as the sight of my colleagues and supervisor in previous firms being volunteers in various capacities at the society influenced my path as a logical next step after the CFA Program. In my case, it turns out to be a path for self-development, make friends, and a way to keep abreast of all the innovations in the investing world.
This prospect to connect with the members globally, make friends or business connects is unparalleled compared to any other forum available in India. When I shifted to Tokyo at a large Japanese insurance and asset manager few years back, I was looking for English speaking people to socialize, and there I found the chance to attend events and serve for the CFA Society Japan for specific local events. The members there loved the idea of networking over a few drinks after a thoughtful speaker discussion about Indian markets that I organized.
You would be surprised that volunteering does not really interfere in our day jobs, and there is reasonable flexibility in scheduling activities. Since my job involves significant travel, it might seem cumbersome to spend few hours a week for the Society, but thanks to the Society’s staff and resources, there is always another volunteer to fill in whenever needed. It is also quite inspiring when my fellow Charterholders in meetings talk about emerging investment topics being debated in the events at the local society chapter in New York or Singapore.
Eventually it boils down to passion and motivation to do something beyond the walls of our offices, and these attributes are quite common among fellow volunteers.
Tarun: As we enter the post-pandemic world, dotted by geo-political tensions, what is your view on the industry and how finance professionals can navigate it?
Shamit: The pandemic, growing digitization, product innovation, millennial savings habits and a data driven world make the grazing field very promising for investment advisors and product providers. Consumers have recognized the need for financial planning, and the need to diversify their risk assets.
We are already past the inflexion point for technology driving the investing field. I see a sustained shift toward robo advisors with lower investment thresholds to democratize high quality advice, greater interest in active investing and customization, huge interest in global equities. Digital wallets would bring in unbanked customers to wealth management products. The future investing business can be looked as a dynamic function that combines AI, emotional intelligence of the investment professional backed by cloud based data analytics and execution technologies. Managers would leverage technologies and coding capabilities for alpha generation and better client experience.
Tarun: In the same vein, what are the priority items you are working on and driving in the Society?
Shamit: After the pandemic, humans are adapted to a hybrid work culture where regular interactions can conclude on a screen. This means that the “Professional learning” Committee (which I chair) needs to transform the expert speaker series across chapters more collaborative (than a monologue) with the audience, and topics need to stretch beyond the traditional realms of finance.
We are trying to provide focused learning opportunity among members at different stage of their careers and industry engagement. Maybe younger charterholders prefer more hard skills in coding for portfolios, while seasoned analysts in India learn how to navigate quant data and AI to improve their research outcomes or be more acquainted with global currencies and commodities in increasingly correlated global markets.
Whenever relevant, I get the chance to share my views in the group for any submissions on consultation papers of regulators concerning asset management, capital markets and the ecosystem in India.
Tarun: ESG has been emerging as one of the top themes as an investment strategy. What do you think is the future of ESG in Indian investment industry?
Shamit: ESG driven investing, decarbonization driven finance and impact investing funds could grow significantly in India, Yet, investors could be overwhelmed with the wide array of such solutions, with lack of standardization in reporting processes and opaque screening procedures or green washing among providers can be become a concern among investors and advisors.
Sustainability becomes an important performance measure for companies accessing growth capital and such measures would accompany traditional economic performance of companies to command stakeholder trust and for inclusion among professional asset manager and pension portfolios in India. ESG disclosures and reporting is already gaining traction among asset managers, and I would expect significant enhancements in assurance practices for climate and ESG related reporting. Of course, asset managers would revise their investment operating models to include ESG frameworks and active shareholder engagement.
I find these topics very relevant to my day job and exciting to upskill, hence I volunteered to contribute in the Research and Advocacy’s ESG sub-committee., comprising of several qualified industry experts and together we pursue advocacy with regulators and industry platforms for research and best practices in ESG frameworks, impact investing and disclosures in India.
Tarun: Another emerging trend is new asset classes such as cryptos and technologies such as metaverse. How do you view these developments as an investment professional?
Shamit: From my limited learning, I would consider Decentralized Finance and metaverse to be in the incubation stage, requiring tremendous investments to enhance computational efficiency to attain its planned potential. The future use cases of block chain in payments, IoT, identification and even asset management operations look quite promising, I’d expect several iterations until the concepts are adopted in the mainstream, with enhancements to address policy maker concerns in a host of areas including identifying ownership, AML and security.
Tarun: Any message or thoughts for candidates and young career professionals?
Shamit: The Society is a very resourceful avenue to build industry networks, refresh and update your concepts in finance, access brilliant investment professionals globally and ofcourse become part of a community that is emerging as a specialist in modern investing. Being a volunteer multiplies the experience as you are given a platform to share your views in various forums, have access to senior investment professionals through industry engagements and most importantly provide industry wide visibility, hone your leadership and communication skills which help transform your career potential at organizations.
Completing the CFA program is a validation of your skills. Active membership in the society is a way to support your career, give back to the community and upskill your capabilities in investing through the events, networks and knowledge exchanges.
Shamit heads Offshore Fund Investments – International Business at ICICI Prudential AMC Ltd. Shamit joined the AMC in February 2016, oversees ~USD 2.6 billion of assets advised across various funds and institutional mandates of global clients, leads manager selection for global strategies for local investors. He has set up and managed several India equity and FI funds across Asia (incl Japan) and Europe, selected global managers, raised assets and crafted AM partnerships with large financial groups. Shamit previously worked at Reliance-Nippon Life Asset Management in Mumbai and Nippon Life Insurance / Nissay in Tokyo. He is a CFA charterholder and has done MBA – Boston College (USA), Masters and Bachelor of Commerce degrees from University of Mumbai (India)
Tarun is a seasoned Chartered Accountant and has cleared level III of CFA program. He has around 9+ years of experience in various Finance roles across Industries like Banking, Asset Management, EdTech and has previously worked with corporates like BlackRock and Serco. He’s currently working with Macquarie and handling a FinTech role, supporting their Banking and Financial Services business. He’s passionate about continuous learning and has deep interest in Economics, Investments, ETFs and Financial Markets.