My journey in the finance industry thus far is an interesting one. I started my career in the auditing space where I spent nine years. Ever since I was growing up, I had a passion for the markets and decided to follow my passion. I first enrolled in the CFA program and passed levels one and two before joining Afrifocus Securities, a stockbroker and member of the stock exchange, as a private client portfolio manager. I then enrolled in Level 3 of the CFA program and had to balance studying for with writing all the regulatory exams to be fit and proper in the industry. My responsibilities included advisory services, trading derivatives for private clients, and being part of the team that provides discretionary managed portfolios. As I evolved in my role in advising clients on some alternative assets such as commodities, REITs, hedge funds, mutual funds with different strategies and infrastructure funds, I realised that as a Portfolio Manager, it would be beneficial to study alternatives in terms of reducing portfolio risk and enhancing return. Afrifocus was also expanding in the wealth management space so the content provided me with the tools to assist in manager selection of mutual funds. Furthermore, we were in an interesting space where developed market bond yields were low and to add incremental returns, knowledge of alternative assets was important. I decided to write Level 2, as part of the of the CAIA Stackable Credential Program, in September 2020 as the content is highly specialised in alternative assets.
Amidst the pandemic, when we were in lockdown and the uncertainty that persisted, I had to quickly focus. Fortunately, CAIA allowed us to write a monitored remote proctor exam, a first of its kind for the CAIA Association. The experience was rather pleasant. The curriculum assisted me with knowledge in many areas such as portfolio optimisation in terms of portfolio risk and return characteristics, commodities and shape of the futures curve, different hedge fund strategies, options strategies, REIT’s and property mutual funds and volatility managed funds. With the CAIA designation, I am now able to understand complex issues and strategies in alternative assets and can explain them to clients. I also now know how to add alternatives in a client’s portfolio to create value for the client.
The qualification has a lot of credibility and is well respected by industry participants. The resources provided by CAIA Association such as Chronicles of an Allocator, Journal of Alternative Investments, and the AllAboutAlpha provide content to keep me abreast of the industry to add even more value to the investor. The virtual conferences are also very useful.
I am now also part of a global network of highly intelligent people to learn from and develop every day. Belonging to a global professional body adds credibility and knowledge and sends a message to industry participants that the member has obtained the relevant knowledge to be competent in that space. Being part of a global network of highly skilled and knowledgeable Members also expands one’s network. The CAIA Charter tells me that whoever possesses it, is resilient, ethical, has vast knowledge in the alternative investment space, demonstrates professionalism, and has a lot of integrity.
My advice for aspiring professionals in the industry is:
- Set goals for yourself and have plans to attain them.
- Expand and maintain your professional network.
- Continue your professional development whether through formal qualifications or informal reading of articles, journals, or newsletters.
- Always persist, never give up.
About Rushil Jeena
Rushil earned a Bachelor of Business Science degree focused in Finance from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He has presented at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange SHE Invest event and was a guest speaker on the MoneyWebNow with Simon Brown podcast. In addition to his participation in the CAIA community, he stays active through raising awareness and volunteering for CFA Society South Africa, University of KwaZulua Natal, and supports a local children’s home.