- January 22, 2024
- Posted by: CFA Society India
- Category:In Conversation With
Industry Expert - Rajesh Sehgal, CFA, Managing Partner, Equanimity Investments and Director, CFA Society India
Interviewed by - Swetha Rakhecha, CFA, Member, Public Awareness Committee, CFA Society India
Swetha: Congratulations on your appointment as Director of CFA Society India! What are the priority items you look forward to driving in Society?
Rajesh: Many thanks to the entire CFA Society India community and the leadership for giving me this opportunity to serve as a Director on the Board. I have been a proud charter holder since 2005 and have seen the community grow and flourish, especially since the establishment of IAIP. I have been contributing to the community in recent years across various areas. As Director, I will continue promoting ethical and professional standards for investment industry participants, focus on offering additional value-add that the Society provides its members and encourage enhanced camaraderie among our members. My priority here is to widen, deepen and enrich our member base. We have to ensure that all members of CFA Institute align with their local counterparts here in India, facilitating enhanced levels of continuous learning, professional networking, and increased life opportunities for all.
Swetha: You have a unique investor experience spanning private and public markets. Could you please tell us more about your professional journey?
Rajesh: Yes, that’s right. I have been fortunate to invest across businesses’ entire life cycle curve. I started my investing career with listed stocks in the early ’90s and nearly became a rich young lad in my 20s before the whole market came crashing down with the antics of Mr Mehta, Mr Patel and the like. I then presumed the stock market dead and left to pursue higher education at the behest of mentors and peers. That changed everything for me. Post MBA, I joined SBI Capital Markets and managed their treasury investing in debt and equity markets. In 1999, I got the privilege of becoming part of Dr. Mark Mobius’ team at Franklin Templeton Investments. At Templeton, I worked closely with Dr. Mobius, investing across various Emerging Market countries spanning Asia, Africa, East Europe and Latin America. I was fortunate to manage public market funds as well as private equity funds. This experience gave me a unique perspective on analysing businesses, large and small, and understanding global factors that affect them, valuations and all nuances surrounding value and returns. In 2007, I started deploying my capital in early-stage businesses in India and the subcontinent. This allowed me to understand the massive impact technology had on all businesses and has stood me in good stead as technology has now become pervasive and an essential enabler of any business that hopes to thrive or survive. I set up Equanimity in 2017, and we invest solely in early-stage businesses and start-ups, backing enterprising teams and innovative business models. It has been a fabulous journey that I would do nothing to change if I had to relive it.
Swetha: How has the CFA program contributed to your career progression and skills development? For those considering pursuing the CFA designation, what advice would you offer?
Rajesh: I always feel proud to share that the CFA program has been instrumental in shaping my career. At Templeton, I was encouraged to enrol for this program and jumped at this opportunity as it had been a few years since I completed my management studies. In the world of investments, knowledge is indeed power, and the CFA program offers professionals the necessary tools to sharpen their knowledge base and remain at the forefront of professional learning. This was true in 2005 when I received my charter, and it is my firm belief that in today’s world, this is truer. My advice to anyone in the investment profession is to enrol for the CFA program along with your base qualification, or if you are already a few years into the profession, it is highly advisable to sharpen your knowledge and skills by enrolling for this program.
Swetha: Can you share your ‘Day in the life’ as Managing Partner at Equanimity Investments?
Rajesh: Ah, that’s tricky since no day is like the other. This is the best part of life in the world of investments. There is a facade which would make an outsider conclude that life as a Managing Partner is steady and predictable. But the minute you start peeling this onion, it is layers and layers of maddening activity. At Equanimity, we are a small team of 7 investment professionals aided by a Compliance Officer and an Investor Relations person. Among ourselves, we manage all facets of the firm, from fundraising to investing to creating and managing exits, keeping investors, regulators and all other involved parties timely informed and other related activities. So far, it has been a fantastic journey, and I am looking forward to tomorrow and all the promises that it holds in its arms.
Swetha: You have a prolific following on LinkedIn, according to you, what is the importance of social media in our careers? Would love to hear your tips on how to write authentically and also on improving one’s golf game?
Rajesh: Social media is the necessary evil that rules our world. We can’t do without it and certainly can’t give it our all. In today’s dis-intermediated world, each of us has the power to influence the other. Each of us is burdened with ensuring social media is the panacea we seek and not a curse to be carried. LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and the likes are part of our lives and are how we predominantly interact with the world. Being social media savvy is no longer a choice; it is mandatory if we are serious about our careers and businesses.
Writing is dear to my heart. I love writing and, as it follows logically, reading. To write authentically, we need just two things: a command of language and the ability to translate our thoughts into words. I can’t emphasise enough how important this ability to write well is, and I encourage you to start writing daily. Please write a few sentences, a diary, a memo, write letters, write anything in addition to the countless emails and WhatsApp messages we write daily. You will be astounded by how it takes you to the next level and helps your career and personal life.
Golf. Now you’ve touched a sore spot. I love the game of golf and wish I could devote the time this game deserves. Since I started Equanimity, golf has been the one loser as far as time is concerned. Golf is a game you play against yourself, and it allows you to spend a lot of time within the outside greenery; it enables you to introspect, learn patience and be calm. To improve one’s golf game, I would recommend only one thing: show up at the course regularly and keep hitting the ball.