- February 9, 2024
- Posted by: CFA Society India
Ravi Gautham, CFA
Director – Research and Advocacy
CFA Society India
Another busy quarter and another very eventful year just went by for the CFA Society India.
Speaking of ‘eventful’, It always amazes me that the CFA Society India has been consistently able to deliver a plethora of quality events all year long – 127 in calendar year 2023, across the nine Indian regional chapters. When you think about it, it’s a staggering figure, averaging almost two events a week! From what we know, no other CFA Society globally has come close to this level of activity and engagement.
How many events were you able to participate in? Between marquee conferences, upskilling webinars, other knowledge sharing platforms and fun local chapter events, there is always something for everyone!
There was much to engage and celebrate through the year, and our previous covid lockdowns that spawned ‘virtual only’ gatherings in the previous years now gave way to confident physical meetings that members have relished and that has worked wonders for collaboration and networking across all of our conferences and events.
If you have kept up with the quarterly messages from individual directors on our CFA Society India blog, you will be aware of much of what has transpired over the last three quarters of the year and here I will fill you in on the considerable happenings in the last quarter of 2023 and spilling into early 2024. (https://cfasocietyindia.org/category/blog/updates/)
The Professional Learning Committee that spearheads the bulk of our events, conducted 25 events in Q4 2023 across chapters, providing 53 Professional Learning Credits and hosting 1500+ attendees.
A Kolkata event on October 7, featured AI’s investing implications, simultaneously, a Financial Writing Workshop in Chennai, focused on enhancing writing skills for members, CPs, and candidates.
The “7th Value Investing Pioneer Summit” in Delhi was well-received by 300+ attendees. This summit served as a melting pot of ideas, insights, and networking opportunities.
The “India Alternative and Quant Investing Summit” in Chennai, in November served as a premier platform for exploring alternative investment strategies and quantitative analysis techniques. This conference featured sessions led by industry leaders, providing attendees with actionable insights to enhance their investment practices.
The annual power-packed flagship 14th India Investment Conference in Mumbai was held on January 12, 2024. The event was attended by 400+ participants. It was covered by many media houses and the conference keynote speaker was Dr. Subba Rao Ex-Governor, Reserve Bank of India. Several other renowned speakers were part of the daylong event which received very high marks in the post event survey that was conducted.
The “Financial Insights Symposium and Networking Gala” in Mumbai in December offered members a unique opportunity to connect with industry peers, exchange ideas, and forge valuable relationships in an informal setting. Additionally, the “Networking Dinner – Let’s Get Together” in Hyderabad on December 15, provided attendees with a relaxed environment to build connections and discuss industry trends over a meal.
With events like the “Forensic Investing in Listed and Unlisted entities” in Bangalore, the “Meet the Market Masters” series featuring speakers like Chaitanya Dalmia, and workshops like the “Quant Toolkit for Fundamental Investors”, CFA Society India continued to push the boundaries of financial education and innovation across diverse regions in India.
The Membership Committee has attained noteworthy milestones that have made a lasting impact on our organization. Our current membership count stands at 2437, and we are optimistic about surpassing last year’s figure indicating overall growth. Furthermore, our retention rate remains robust at 74% (Yes, we could do better!). And there is a notable 13% representation of female members, emphasizing our commitment to diversity and inclusivity.
In Q4 2023, we successfully organized charter award ceremonies across all nine chapters. These events drew an impressive attendance of over 1,200 new members, Level 3 pass outs, and guests who gathered enthusiastically to celebrate this significant accomplishment. As part of a cherished tradition, we extended a heartfelt welcome to our newcomers through a captivating Mint advertisement, setting the stage for their immersive journey ahead.
Throughout the year, we conducted various Charter pending workshops and new member orientation sessions, recognizing the importance of fostering a sense of belonging to the Society. These sessions covered topics such as how to apply for the charter and addressed questions from members. They not only acquainted our new members with the array of resources and benefits available but also shed light on the exciting volunteer opportunities that await them. It was a moment of empowerment and inspiration as we laid the foundation for their remarkable contributions to our community.
The Career Services Committee also had a busy Q4 2023. Three career webinars were organized covering quant finance, alternative data and leadership agility. A CFA Career Day, was organized in Pune where 135 attendees (members, candidates and CPs) engaged with five employers: Acuity Knowledge Partners, SG Analytics, Apex Group, State Street HCL, RCK Analytics. The much-awaited annual Financial Talent Summit was held in Bengaluru – 200 attendees (members, candidates and CPs) and additionally six employers: Goldman Sachs, Invesco, Apex Group, Acuity Knowledge Partners, Wells Fargo, LSEG were part of the agenda. A separate Leadership development series was also launched during the quarter with five workshops, each focusing on one aspect of leadership skills. In a first, a member-only career event on raising funds from offshore investors was conducted, which comprised three sessions: one each on legal, regulatory and business development sides of this game.
The Public Awareness Committee continues to innovate in creative ways. Our overall social media presence, in part enabled by our dedicated Society App and website has grown exponentially. While there is healthy growth across all platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), a new milestone was reached on YouTube with the number of subscribers now crossing the 50,000 mark! We have a loyal fan base who enjoy the engaging and insightful content that CFA Society India’s YouTube channel provides.
Thomas Berry, Chief Marketing Officer, CFA Institute, on his recent visit to the Mumbai office appreciated and commended our Society for adopting the new branding guidelines across its communication within the very first month of a CFA brand refresh.
The charter awards ceremony in Q4 also received great media coverage across top publications of print and digital such as ANI, ThePrint, etc. with newly minted charterholders names being featured in the Mint! New charterholders’ journeys describing their personal challenges and eventual triumph through perseverance were also featured on our official website.
Last but not least were the activities of the Research and Advocacy committee (R&A) – a group of individuals who aim to set a high set of standards for the investment profession. The Advocacy efforts of the committee are focused on contributing meaningfully toward corporate governance and investor awareness. R&A committee has 3 main pillars of activities: Working with members to propagate standards of best practices, engaging with regulators and media to raise standards in the profession, collaborating with investors to promote awareness of the CFA Charter and increasing financial acumen among professional and retail investors. To achieve its objectives, the committee frequently engages with regulators and other professional bodies in the financial ecosystem for the ‘ultimate benefit of society at large’.
Over the course of Q4, R&A committee responded to several consultation papers by the market regulator, SEBI. Notable among them were four responses. 1) Consultation papers on review of provisions of NCS Regulations and LODR Regulations for ease of doing business as well as introduction of fast-track public issuance of debt securities. 2) CFA Society India comments to working group on review of SEBI Mutual fund Regulations. 3) Suggestions to working group for SEBI Regulations for Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) and 4) CFA Society India comments to working group on review of SEBI AIF Regulations.
Another noteworthy highlight is our Society’s efforts to launch and establish a Sustainability Investment Forum (SIF) for India, in collaboration with C Kinectics, a consulting firm that operates in this space. India is one of the largest developed capital markets without such a forum and we thought this was an opportune moment to address sustainability issues more broadly within the country and further the dialog around ESG and DEI. While the planning and preparation for this effort took several months, in December 2023, we brought together a large group of investment and sustainability experts to band together and discuss the way forward towards establishing an independent, institutional member driven forum, comprising several AMCs and other interested parties in the ecosystem. SEBI was briefed on the project and was supportive of our proposal.
Along those lines, the (R&A) work and response to SEBI’S papers on ESG ratings were also well received by the regulator. Recent BRSR reporting advances and robust responses by Indian corporates have also provided us an opportunity to research further, and, in collaboration with NSE, to build on our earlier publication titled ‘Mind the Gender Gap’, a paper that quantitatively analyzed the state and quality of female participation across corporate India.
The committees’ efforts around Performance measurement and GIPS and its adoption within the AMC/PMS/AIF/RIA communities has been gaining some steam with a proposed roundtable later this month.
Finally, our Investment Research challenge (IRC) and Ethics challenge competitions, always a big draw as brilliant college students from renowned institutions across India compete to win awards also occurred in Q4. While the Ethics challenge finals were held in December, along with the IRC zonal finals. Final awardees of the IRC are being announced on Feb 10th..
I would like to conclude with a pitch to all members – please consider volunteering! None of the above activities would have happened were it not for an energized and motivated set of volunteers and we, as board directors, also volunteer our time. We are indeed blessed and are fortunate to have them. But that is not enough. We need more hands-on deck across all committees to continue and build further on our opportunities…for, you guessed it, ‘the ultimate benefit of society’.