- January 14, 2021
- Posted by: Kabir
- Category:In Conversation With
Industry Expert- Shravan Kumar Sreenivasula, CFA
(Director, Avendus Wealth Management)
Interviewed By- Jyoti Soni, CFA
(Member, Public Awareness Committee, CFA Society India)
CFA Society India is pleased to feature a very dynamic and seasoned wealth manager, Mr. Shravan Kumar Sreenivasula, CFA as our guest for December 2020 e-newsletter. Read below the engaging conversation to know more about our expert, his journey, views on wealth management industry, etc.
Jyoti : Working as a fund manager and backed by education qualifications from India’s most revered institutions- IIT and ISB, what motivated you to pursue CFA program and how did it help you in advancing in your career?
Shravan: My motivation to pursue CFA program came from my colleagues at the ING Investment Management. As I interacted with fellow investment professionals who were charterholders, I realized two things. One was the need to create depth in all aspects related to investments. In a management program, the exposure is to various aspects of business studies. In a CFA program, the exposure is to various aspects of finance. Two, was the need for continuous learning. I was looking for an ecosystem that can help me be more up-to-date and be relevant in the field of investments. The choice was very easy and it was around me (my colleagues who were charterholders).
Earning the CFA charter helped a lot in advancing in my career. The breadth of topics during the program acts as a foundation in my work – particularly portfolio management, fixed income and alternates. The local as well as the global fraternity of charterholders help me learn and share ideas. More recently, I had reviewed a book as a volunteer which has refined how I look at monetary policy of central banks. CFA designation also sends out a strong signal to prospective employers and clients which I personally benefitted from.
Jyoti : I was also intrigued by your career transition from IT industry to investment management industry. Can you share your story behind this decision?
Shravan: At Infosys, I was a key member of one of the first global outsourcing projects working closely with the client in the United States. After a few years of experience, I realized that a management program could provide a non-linear growth in the industry. I chose to join the management program at ISB. Two months into the program, the pedagogy at b-school made me realize I could be better at finance – particularly investments. The turning point came when I took a course on fixed income taught by a professor from Wharton and who earlier worked at SEC (US). The course was so captivating (I think the professor made it so) that I went beyond the curriculum to understand the subject. In the course, I did better than those fellow students who I thought were good at finance. Thus the finance bug bit me. There was no looking back since then.
Jyoti : As Director, Investment Advisory & Products at Avendus Capital, what are the most exciting and challenging parts of your job?
Shravan: The most challenging part is keeping the expectations of clients under check. As we have seen so many times, there is human tendency to get carried away by recent events – both good & bad, in markets and economy. The year 2020 is a classic example of that where narrative changed from remove-all-risk to buy-only-risk in a matter of few weeks. Thankfully institutionalizing the process of reviewing portfolios with all practical scenarios help manage the expectations.
The most exciting part is to evaluate ideas with my team – almost on a daily basis. This could be anything – public market fund/ stock, private market fund / company, bonds, insurance product etc. We believe that every investable opportunity has to be thoroughly evaluated. Very few evaluated ideas make way into the portfolio.
The most humbling part of the job is to be aware that very successful people in the country have chosen to put trust in us (Avendus) to manage their hard earned money.
Jyoti : How do you view the Wealth Management Industry with regards to scope, growth and job prospects? How can aspiring wealth managers take advantage of it?
Shravan: I am very excited about the prospects of wealth management industry. On the demand side, there are many first time entrepreneurs who are monetizing their stakes partially or completely. The sale of Flipkart to Walmart helped hundreds of employees become millionaires. Imagine when a lot many other unicorns provide exit to its employees. According to a research firm, there would be a million millionaires in India by 2027.
There are exciting stuff happening on product innovation & platform efficiency. The product innovation is in terms of development of ETFs, commodities, small case, private deals, REITS, InvITs etc. The platform efficiency is through doing transactions online, access to portfolios 24/7, decrease in implementation fees, use of algorithms for rebalancing etc. The industry is going beyond managing money to lending and estate planning which adds immense value to the clients.
With a huge trust deficit caused in the mutual fund managers and rating agencies, the dependency on wealth managers has increased. All these development augur well for job prospects in the industry. The opportunities are across functions of front office and mid office. Aspiring wealth managers should have a quick learning curve. They should strive to work with firms that have a wide array of product basket and are looking at using service through technology.
Jyoti : In your opinion, what are the key attributes required in a person to be a successful wealth manager?
Shravan: A wealth manager is a quasi fund manager of multi assets. He or she must be well read and well informed about opportunities across asset classes. The person also needs to be well connected. There are things clients are looking for beyond investments – how to grow business, do philanthropy, estate planning etc. The job also requires the person to have a balance of both IQ as well as EQ. The later plays a great role in managing extremes in market sentiment. Most importantly, the ability to build trust with clients. Trust can be built over time only by being honest in one’s evaluation (supported by data) of ideas/opportunities/situations even if they are divergent from general belief or consensus.
Jyoti : I am sure our CFA program candidates and aspirants will benefit from your career guidance, any list of Do’s and Dont’s for them?
Shravan: Generally candidates are enamored by some roles. This could be because of the impression created by the ambassadors of such roles or the compensation it carries or it is the “in thing to do” in the current period. While it is understandable to pursue such roles but one needs to align their interest with the job. Such opportunities could be very limited and the competition could be intense to break through. Even if one gets through, it is important to realize if one has it in him or her to pursue for long term.
The field of finance has many opportunities – equity research, credit analysis, risk management, fund research, private equity, private wealth, investment banking, project finance etc. In most cases the first job is by luck. But subsequent jobs are choices one makes. Figure out if one can enjoy doing the current job for the 3-4 decades and becoming the best in it. The local chapters of CFA Society India are best grounds to meet people and explore the next steps.
About Shravan Kumar Sreenivasula, CFA
Shravan Kumar Sreenivasula, CFA heads the Investment Advisory and Solutions Group at Avendus Wealth Management, Mumbai – India. He provides investment guidance to the UHNIs, Family Offices & Corporate Treasuries across asset classes. He brings with him over a decade and half of experience in multi-asset and multi-manager products from to his role as Fund Manager in leading asset management companies.
About Jyoti Soni, CFA
Jyoti Soni, CFA is a Registered Representative of Rainmaker Securities USA. She is working on Late Stage VC, Pre IPO and Secondary Transactions in unlisted equities. She acquired wide variety of experience in investment banking which includes Merger & Acquisition, Foreign Investments, venture capital and private equity transaction at KPMG and Valpro. She holds BE, MBA degrees and FINRA Series 7 & 63 licenses.