As a student in India, I did Electronics and Communication Engineering, after which I went on to pursue an MBA in finance from Indian Institute of Foreign Trade in Delhi. I am also a certified Financial Risk Manager (FRM) through GARP. I started my career at Goldman Sachs as a Corporate Treasury Analyst, with a focus on regulatory liquidity risk metrics such as LCR and NSFR, and Asset Liability Management for EMEA Credit Portfolio. Then I decided to move to NatWest in Treasury risk, which covered pension risk, liquidity risk, and non-traded market risk. I joined as an associate and focused on building the team in India. Along with assuming the role of market risk manager for NatWest Bank’s liquidity portfolio (mainly, high quality bonds and swaps), I also worked on non-traded market risk policy setting, risk appetite, stress testing, and capital for Treasury including Pillar 1, and Pillars 2A and 2B. Post-ICB regulations, I worked in model development on VaR, Stressed VaR, and market data methodology including the policy and OIS rates. I also assisted with oversight of implementation in Murex through the Technology team. As a model developer, I worked closely with the internal audit and model validation teams to get the models approved.
After six years in those areas, I started looking for something within NatWest that would be on model development or validation side. While I was confident that my mathematics-heavy engineering degree would help me, I wanted to refresh my knowledge of the practical and theoretical aspects of quantitative finance. This would be important in core development and validation roles, as they require broader knowledge than my role at NatWest did. I explored various options including a master’s degree and the CQF. I spoke with some of my colleagues in NatWest who had pursued the CQF and decided that it would be the most convenient and effective way to achieve my goals. The flexibility was perfect for me – attending classes from home, completing exams and a final project, and knowing that I could explore quite a lot and still finish the program in 6 to 18 months.
The flexibility was perfect for me – attending classes from home, completing exams and a final project, and knowing that I could explore quite a lot and still finish the program in 6 to 18 months.
I think the course is very detailed and intense. I found the primers very helpful, particularly the mathematics primer, where the lecturer explained mathematics beautifully. What I really liked about the CQF was that every time I had to complete an exam or work on the project, it pushed me to learn a lot under tight time pressure. While I was studying, I also began looking around again for a new job and finally I decided to join BlackRock in the model validation team – a new team was being set up there and the opportunity was exciting. For my final project, I chose a topic on portfolio construction, as it was the most relevant one for my role at BlackRock. My work on the CQF definitely helped me make this transition, to a very different role from my previous roles. I am enjoying the steep learning curve now and I am also very interested in climate risk and sustainability. These are hot topics, especially at BlackRock, and areas I will explore, along with working with the different types of models and products in the next three to four years. There's a lot I can do right here in this role.
My work on the CQF definitely helped me make this transition, to a very different role from my previous roles. I am enjoying the steep learning curve now and I am also very interested in climate risk and sustainability.
My advice to delegates is to understand how intense the CQF program will be and to develop an approach to studying early on, so they will not be overwhelmed. It’s important to see the CQF material as a library available for life-long learning and then define the scope of what you want to achieve during the course because the amount of material available is immense. Just remember, you can always come back to certain topics that interest you, in the near term or further along when you need the knowledge to take on a new role or seek out fresh opportunities in the financial markets.