THINKING: Profiles

Anand Desai – Vice President, Portfolio Manager

Anand Desai, a Penserra Capital Management portfolio manager, wears many hats at Penserra, including chairing the firm’s Charitable Contributions Committee. Anand recently joined the Board of Directors at The Street Smarts, an Oakland, CA-based non-profit dedicated to creating opportunities for underrepresented students to gain experience and learn about the world of finance.

Q:  As a valued portfolio manager of Penserra Capital Management’s ETF sub-advisory division, what specific duties are you responsible for on a daily basis?

The primary objective of our investment process is to ensure risk mitigation, while achieving the desired performance of the fund’s strategy. On a daily basis, the PM team completes trade reconciliations, performance attribution, corporate action impact analysis, along with other key tasks to achieve this goal. We also ensure the funds comply with the regulatory requirements in place. Outside of the daily procedures, we assist clients with new product launch analysis, ad-hoc inquiries related to the funds, as well as any further help we can provide our clients. At any given time, our team can be reviewing performance of an existing fund, analyzing a new product launch, or compiling a trade strategy for an upcoming rebalance.

Q:  You graduated from the University of California at Davis in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Managerial Economics. What factors convinced you to pursue a career on Wall Street?

There were a few key factors:

  • During my time at UC Davis, the U.S. Unemployment Rate doubled from 4.5% to 9.1% (June 2007- June 2011).
  • I had one offer after graduation, as a Fund Accountant at State Street Global Services.
  • College loans kept me awake at night.

I started trading stocks in high school. The endgame was unclear, but a business career was in my future. The scales tilted towards financial services when a mentor said, “Working with investments, the obligation is to do right by the person who trusted you with their savings and livelihood”. After witnessing the most recent recession and financial crisis from the safety of a college lecture hall and seeing the downstream impact to families like my own, I was blessed to have an entry-level role waiting for me after graduation. I felt like I could be someone who helped change the narrative around investment professionals and what they stand for.

Q:  How did you learn about Penserra, and what influenced you to join the firm in 2015?

I was introduced to Penserra Capital by my mentor, who was a former colleague of my current manager. Portfolio Manager had always been an aspiration, so I was more than interested in learning about what the job entailed. With regards to the role itself, a sub-advisory Portfolio Manager is positioned to take on many different challenges that may face a fund outside of general portfolio composition. This learning experience was more than I could have hoped for at any firm. As for the firm, Penserra Capital’s growth story and the people leading the efforts influenced my decision. I was fortunate to have many respected colleagues who knew George Madrigal and Dustin Lewellyn. They went out of their way to vocally express their support for my decision. They called it an amazing opportunity for my career growth, and I was convinced.

Q:  You wear many hats at Penserra, including chairing the firm’s Charitable Contribution Committee. What type of programs is Penserra most interested in partnering with?

Chair of the Charitable Contribution’s Committee is an honor in many ways. It is always awesome to see the impact our firm can have in our local communities. From my vantage point, it is also inspiring to see Penserra employees involved with so many worthy organizations. The committee focuses on supporting organizations that empower our youth, advocate for human rights, and raise awareness of health issues.

Q:  You recently joined the Board of Directors of The Street Smarts, an Oakland, CA-based non-profit dedicated to creating opportunities for underrepresented students to gain experience and learn about the world of finance. What type of initiatives do you want the organization to pursue to give its students a foothold in the financial services industry?

In this age of information, The Street Smarts is uniquely positioned to be a conduit between the financial services industry and the youth we hope to inspire. Personally, I credit my personal success to a blend of personal efforts and amazing mentors who offered phenomenal guidance early in my career. I will be working to help provide similar guidance to the students, and I hope to help them all learn how to build a professional network of colleagues and mentors. I believe this is vital to career success in the financial services industry.

Q: You impressed your Penserra colleagues by attending nine weddings last summer. What advice would you give to your fellow millennials about how to manage such a formidable itinerary?

“Balance your Venmo” is the new “Balance your checkbook”. In all seriousness, I am blessed to have parents who always taught me about “saving for a rainy day”. Sometimes, the metaphorical rain consists of confetti and champagne, it’s all relative. My advice for the other millennials would be to live in the YOLO (You Only Live Once) mindset, but remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint.