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In 2009, with just a single investor backing him, 25-year-old Nalin Moniz, CFA, left his job at Goldman Sachs to pursue his entrepreneurial dream in his home country of India. There, he started Forefront Capital — a company that married his previous experience with a then-unexplored sector in India: alternative investments.
Three years later, Forefront Capital became the first licensed domestic hedge fund in India. Moniz had been a key player in founding a new financial subsector.
Moniz was born in India and lived there until he moved to the United States to attend the University of Pennsylvania on a scholarship. He graduated magna cum laude with degrees in finance, statistics, and computer science in 2005, after which he joined Goldman Sachs to work in their asset management business.
But in 2008, the financial crisis cast an uncertain shadow over his career prospects and the asset management industry as a whole.
Moniz used the challenge as an opportunity to make a change. He had long-held a dream of being an entrepreneur and running his own firm, so he returned to India to make it happen.
Indian financial markets only became liberalized after sweeping reforms in 1991. Though growth has been rapid since then, the markets are still young in the global context. Returning to India in 2009, Moniz found many Indians who had accumulated capital but chose to invest in relatively simple, tangible assets like gold or real estate — if they invested at all.
Moniz also met a generation of young, talented, capital-starved entrepreneurs who wanted to grow alongside India.
The CFA® Program covers a wide array of important investment topics, including the characteristics, valuation, and allocation strategies of alternative investments.
More than 172,000 candidates sat for the June 2017 CFA Program exam, and more are expected in 2018. India is the second-fastest-growing market for CFA Program candidates.
In highly competitive financial markets like India, CFA charterholders have expertise to work in many different roles, including research analyst, risk manager, financial adviser, and many others.
Nalin Moniz, CFA
Moniz founded Forefront with this transformation in mind, but founding the company was just the first step.
India’s market liberalization had not yet caught up in the alternative investment management space: There was no formal regulatory category, investors knew very little of it, and the industry itself lacked the tools and technology available in the West.
Moniz didn’t wait for these problems to solve themselves. He lent his hand in efforts to address them one by one. Working alongside India’s government, he helped draft asset management regulations. Forefront became the first alternative investment fund in history to receive a Category III license from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). Along with CFA Institute and other global collaborators, he helped to introduce best practices, talent, and technology to India.
As a result, in eight years, Moniz grew Forefront from a humble startup to a diversified alternative investment firm with more than a billion dollars in assets under management. In 2014, Forefront was acquired by Edelweiss Financial Services and became Edelweiss Multi Strategy Funds.
Moniz knows his business has grown because of the trust his clients place in him and that India, at large, is developing its markets. He considers ethics the key to both.
“Without a developed sense of ethics and standards, we lose trust. When we lose trust, we lose our business,” said Moniz.
He sees the increased number of CFA® charterholders in India as a sign his industry is on the right track.
Despite achieving this level of success at just 34, Moniz has yet to grow complacent. Although he has found his home again in India, he is constantly traveling the world to learn from his peers around the globe — and, lately, to run marathons in different countries.
“Training for marathons puts me in the same mindset I have when growing my business — dreaming big while focusing on the small goals in front of me. And if you ever stop pushing yourself, you get left behind.”
With a bright future ahead, Moniz shows no signs of slowing down.