Passion will make you specialize in a subject using the foundation laid out in CA course- Mr Nilesh Shah-MD of Kotak AMC and CA Final Gold Medalist

Mr. Nilesh Shah is the Managing Director (MD) of Kotak Mahindra Asset Management Co Ltd. He has over 25 years of experience in capital markets and market related investments, having managed funds across equity, fixed income securities and real estate for local and global investors. In his previous assignments, Nilesh has held leadership roles with Axis Capital, ICICI Prudential Asset Management , Franklin Templeton and ICICI securities. Nilesh is the recipient of the inaugural Business Standard Fund Manager of the year award – Debt in 2004. He was part of the team that received the best fund house of the year award at Franklin Templeton as well as at ICICI Prudential. Nilesh is a gold medalist chartered accountant and a merit ranking cost accountant. His hobbies include reading and educating investors on financial planning. He has co-authored book on Financial Planning called “A Direct Take”.

Snippets of his interaction with Anurag from

1)     A brief intro on what triggered the CA decision at that point of time?

CA was the only professional course available within my means at that point of time. It is a course which allows ‘Jack of all trades’ exposure to Accounting, Finance, Taxation, Management and other streams in the most cost effective manner.

2)     What were the key tenets of your CA exam strategy?

Passing exam is different from learning. Learning is a life long journey. Learning is about blend of practical experience and theoretical knowledge. For passing the exam I focused on studying the pattern of past exam papers to arrive at topics from which questions were likely to come. I divided my syllabus on 80: 20 basis. I focused on that 20 % of portion from which 80 % of questions were likely to come. The intensity to study 20 % of portion was disproportionately higher. I went to study in a library from morning 7 am to night 9 pm so that I can study undisturbed. Sitting in library with like-minded students also helped in solving difficulties. I could truly leverage the knowledge of my fellow students instead of trying to do everything on my own. I got leave of 2 months to prepare for my final exam. I was studying to pass the exam. I did not ever allow thoughts like two months are not good enough to appear in my mind. I knew that if someone was studying 12 hours a day for three months; I can match him by studying 18 hours a day. Leverage your resources well rather than worrying about what others have.

3)     How does the CA course life transform one as an individual? Can you please share your key learnings in course of your professional life?

CA degree helped open the door of corporate life. The gold medal in CA Finals opened the doors of ICICI. CA course allowed you to combine learning across accounting, taxation, company law and finance stream to serve your client. CA course had given you practical experience through article training. CA course gave you the foundation to do well in life. Learning is a life long journey. To succeed in life you need a lot of hard work and bit of luck. You need to create a circle of friends who can help you genuinely. You need to work hard as well as smart.

4)     In your view, what are factors a student must consider before embarking on the CA journey? Aptitude, career aspirations etc.?

A Student should have passion for what he is doing. CA is a general course. While there is a need for general doctor, fame is made in specialization. Passion will make you specialize in a subject using the foundation laid out in CA course. Be passionate about what you want to do. Learn with passion. Work with passion. As someone mentioned that the difference between success and failure is one hour. The failed person works for 999 hours. Successful person works for one more hour.

5)     What would be your advice to future CA aspirants?

There is no substitute to hard work. Knowledge is a life long Journey.