Ali Farid Khwaja is the Chairman of KASB Securities, a leading stock brokerage in Pakistan. He is based in London and lives with his wife Mubashira and daughters Mashal (10) and Manahil (7). He also works for the Asian Development Bank as a consultant. Prior to KASB, Ali was a Partner at Autonomous Research, a investment research company acquired by Alliance Bernstein. Before that he was the CFO of SafeCharge Plc and the CEO of SafeCharge Card Services. He has been a top ranked Technology Analyst in Europe at Berenberg and UBS. He has also invested in emerging markets as a fund manager at Kudu Emerging Markets. Ali is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and has done MSc in Financial Economics from Oxford. He has also done BSc in Economics and Computer Science (Double major) from LUMS in Pakistan.
1.How did you get started in your career?
I came to the UK on a Rhodes Scholarship to study Financial Economics at the University of Oxford. Before graduating, by December 2015 I had two job offers; the first one was to join Google as an Associate Product Manager, in a desk run by Sundar Pirchai and the other one was at UBS to join the Equity Research department to cover Technology stocks. Since my plan was to return back to Pakistan and set up a business in the financial markets, I chose UBS and joined them in September 2006.
2. What is a highlight of your career?
I became the Group CFO and board Director of a publicly listed company, listed on London Stock Exchange when I was 33. SafeCharge is a global fintech companies with offices from Hong Kong and Singapore to the US. It was acquired by a Canadian company for $900m. I also was CEO of their card issuing business in Dublin, which was the largest prepaid and gift card business in Europe. However, the most memorable highlight is relaunching KASB Securities in Pakistan, which is now one of the top stock brokerages and investment bank in Pakistan.
3. How would you describe the type of work that you do each day? Why is it important?
I advise people, funds, banks, and global institutions on where to invest their money. It is extremely important for us to think and plan carefully about our savings. The days of job security, lifelong pension, and other social safety nets are gone. Now everyone needs to have sufficient financial literacy in order to invest prudently and plan for future spending needs. Without that with banks offering negative interest rates in the UK, our savings keep on getting depleted due to inflation and taxes.
4. What does an average workday look like to you?
Reading newspapers, financial reports, writing, talking to clients and colleagues. I try to set weekly targets that can take the business forward, otherwise, it is easy to get trapped in the routine of everyday schedule.
5. What has been the greatest hurdle for you to overcome in your career?
Coming from Pakistan and working in the UK is tough. Compared to the other peers, I lacked the social and business circle. My family roots and connections were all in Pakistan and not in the UK. So the greatest hurdle was developing the network and breaking into business circles as an outsider.
6. What are your plans for the future?
We plan to expand KASB into other markets. Currently, we are planning market entry into Bangladesh and Uzbekistan. KASB was a founding member of the Dhakka Stock Exchange in the 60s and was also a founding member of the Tashkent Stock Exchange. So it will be re-home coming.
7.How do you unwind?
Go for a walk and listen to Audible while walking. Netflix at night.