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  • 15 Aug 2017 4:12 PM | Anonymous

    After a short summer break CFA Association Russia returned to its business schedule and held a morning seminar in the form of a business breakfast. The event took place at the Mazars Moscow office, CFA Russia’s new partner, and featured Evgeny Ivkin, an expert in crisis management, as a guest speaker.

    Earlier this summer Evgeny already spoke at a CFA Russia event, focusing on common organizational mistakes that Russian companies make which result in poor business outcomes. This time the crisis manager brought attention to the issue of financial loans and told an audience what kind of companies banks should avoid giving loans to.

    Investors regularly lose money after companies and entrepreneurs go out of business or fail to pay back their debt. Oftentimes, a number of Russian banks give out credit loans without properly checking the background information on borrowers, Evgeny said.

    In search of profits, lending parties take risks giving out huge financial loans to companies that normally should never receive them.

    “Lenders sometimes have no idea about an industry in which a borrower works nor have a clear understanding of how a company’s business model operates,” Evgeny said.

    To spot potentially bad debtors, Evgeny and his team came up with a comprehensive methodology that allows them to weed out risky businesses in the first stage of an interview. The speaker told about numerous red flags and warning signs that creditors must always look for in addition to standard pre-loan procedures.

    To find out more about Evgeny’s pre-loan evaluation methodology and his crisis management strategies check out CFA Russia’s two upcoming trainings this fall. CFA Russia partnered up with Evgeny and his team of crisis management experts to produce a series of professional trainings specifically designed to cover these issues. Similar to other CFA Russia training courses, the new course will include the combination of essential theoretical information and a hands-on practical training. Additional information can be found at our upcoming events section on the website. 

  • 29 Jun 2017 5:57 PM | Anonymous

    On the sunny morning of June 29, CFA Association Russia held a business breakfast in partnership with the Internet Initiatives Development Fund (IIDF). CFA Russia continued to explore the hot topic of fintech, inviting two experts from Russia’s Otkrytie bank and the software company Nekst.

    The event was held at the new office of IIDF and featured Pavel Revo, the vice-president of Otkrytie, and Alexey Degtyarev, the business development director of Nekst, as the two invited experts.

    Below: Pavel Revo giving a presentation

    Pavel Revo focused on the essentials of the E-commerce payment system without a solid knowledge of which one cannot effectively understand Internet banking and shopping for that matter. He expanded on the details and roles of interchange, the component of fees that businesses must pay to accept credit cards.

    Since interchange fees in Russia can be over 2 percent, merchants dream about solutions to cut transaction costs. According to Pavel, with the current interchange rates, the payment system is losing 100 billion rubles (around USD $1.7 billion) a year on interchange fees alone.

    To sum up Pavel pointed out that to create a new payment system (the one with 0.1 percent interchange fees, for example) one needs to increase the use of non-cash transactions and get rid of ATMs, as they’re too costly to operate.

    During his presentation Alexey Degtyarev, who is a former director of B&N Bank's digital services department, said the role of peer-to-peer payment transactions and other non-traditional methods of payment are overblown. He added that the use of bank issued payment cards won’t decrease with the increase of smartphones.

    Although new fintech startups are trying to push out payment cards, so far they have not been successful. All these new fintech, like QR-codes and other E-wallet type systems, sounds fancy and the idea behind them may be genius, but currently they cannot effectively compete with the cards, Alexey said.

    Below: Alexey Degtyarev doesn't believe E-wallets are replacing payment cards any time soon

    “In Russian provinces there are many places without Internet. What kind of E-wallets are you talking about?” – Alexey asked a reasonable question and concluded that the payment cards are here to stay. The saying the old ox plows a straight furrow couldn’t be more true in this case.

    Following the main speakers, Pavel Nikonov, an investment manager from IIDF, gave a short presentation. Nikonov briefly told about IIDF, which is a Russian venture capital fund that invests in potentially successful new tech startups, and said how successful the company has been. On a final note, he invited guests to send in applications if they have any bright startup ideas and see how IIDF can help realize them.

  • 26 Jun 2017 4:05 PM | Anonymous

    As the saying goes, money drives development and makes the world go round. Throughout history, humans went from exchanging sea shells, stone tools, coins made of rare metals to eventually using banknotes attached to the gold standard. And since the recent development of fintech, humanity might be on the verge of yet another history-changing moment. As the number of fintech startups continues to grow, the world of financial services is experiencing the never-before-seen level of evolution.

    To keep up with the times CFA Association Russia and EY held a four-hour seminar themed around fintech and the future of banks. Four speakers were invited to the EY office on Saturday to share their expertise on the issues of fintech.

    Alexander Filatov, a member of B&N Bank’s board of directors, and Dmitry Khamrakulov, a managing director of VTB Bank, gave the first presentation of the seminar. Alexander and Dmitry dove into the details of cryptocurrency and explained how the digital payment system could affect the traditional banking sector.

    Above: Alexander Filatov (on the left) and Dmitry Khamrakulov

    According to the speakers, with the development of fintech companies, the banking sector in the future is expected to take a hit. Only a small fraction of banks will be able to compete with new technology, and even then they would be extremely specialized only in certain areas of the industry

    “That’s why banks should be trying to come up with new technological solutions even faster than Google,” said Alexander, questioning whether it is even possible to think that banks could outmatch the global Internet giant.

    Next was Yuri Gusev, CFA, from EY Russia's Valuation and Advisory team. In his presentation, Yuri talked about the results of a study that focused on the development of the fintech industry in Russia. The audience was eager to hear about the findings of EY experts.

    Above: Yuri Gusev, CFA

    In contrast with other countries, large Russian banks, such as Sberbank, Alfabank, Otkrytie and Tinkoff, are actively involved in the development of fintech and often are first to provide cutting-edge services to their clients. For example, the EY study revealed that last year 20.6 million people were using Sberbank’s online banking app. To put this into perspective, 20 million is the population of Sweden, Norway, and Finland put together.

    “We probably won’t have plastic [cards] in 10 years, because everything will be in our phones,” Yuri quoted Oleg Tinkov, a famous Russian entrepreneur and the founder of Tinkoff Bank. Indeed, the data from the study shows that the global society is quickly moving toward this idea.

    Last but not least, Dmitry Kalaev from the Internet Initiatives Development Fund (IIDF) told how emerging tech companies could receive financial help from his company. Founded in 2013, IIDF is a Russian capital venture fund that invests in tech start-ups in the early stages of development, thus helping young and talented IT-entrepreneurs develop their ideas.

    Above: Dmitry Kalaev

    Overall, the seminar turned out to be a success. Considering the amount of people that wanted to attend the seminar, CFA Russia is planning to put together a longer and more detailed two-day training course on fintech. Stay tuned for more information.

  • 22 Jun 2017 7:16 PM | Anonymous

    Thomson-Reuters in cooperation with CFA Association Russia held a morning seminar on the company’s existing products, their proper use, and how financial analysts could benefit from using them.

    During the event CFA Russia also broke the news that it has worked out an agreement with Thomson-Reuters based on which the members of CFA Russia will get a one-month free trial access to some of the company’s databases. 

    Furthermore, all companies that hire CFA Russia members will also receive discounts when purchasing Thomson-Reuters data analysis tools.

    The morning event, held at the Thomson-Reuters office, gathered over 30 financial professionals. There were three speakers from Thomson-Reuters at the seminar: Nikita Pavlov, the head of the capital and FX markets department, Ilya Parfenov, an AIM client specialist advisor, and Ekaterina Morozova, a business development manager.

    Following a brief introduction by Vladimir Tutkevich, CFA Russia’s executive director, Nikita Pavlov took the floor. He began with an overview of the company and told a bit about the work of Thomson-Reuters’ office in Russia.

    “I’m very proud that the team from Russia creates products that are relevant for everyone in the world,” said Nikita.

    Ilya Parfenov was up next and focused on Datasteam, powerful Thomson-Reuters-built software that combines economic research and strategy development with analysis. According to Ilya, the program allows to bring together the “top-down” and “bottom-up” aspects of the investment workflow. Software also has strong analytical tools that provide critical data sources.

    After a short coffee-break, Ekaterina Morozova gave a short presentation on how to analyze the foreign exchange markets and effectively trade using Thomson-Reuters databases.

    On a final note, Vladimir Tutkevich said that the final details of the agreement between CFA Russia and Thomson-Reuters are currently being finalized and CFA Russia will disclose them within the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned for more information. 

  • 19 Jun 2017 6:27 PM | Anonymous

    Last Friday, CFA Russia sent Dmitry Ryabykh and Denis Sitnikov, the instructors of two leading training courses on financial modeling and business valuation, to attend a special seminar given by Aswath Damodaran, a world renowned scholar of finance from the Stern School of Business at New York University.

    Professor Damodaran is the author of many academic papers and influential books on business valuation, corporate finance, and investment management. When it comes to the subject of valuation there are very few experts worldwide like Professor Damodaran.

    From the left to right: Denis Sitnikov, Dmitry Ryabykh, Aswath Damodaran, and CFA Russia's executive director Vladimir Tutkevich.

    During his seminar in Moscow, Professor Damodaran explained what are the differences and similarities between valuation techniques to be used on Uber, Ferrari, and the Russian steel company Severstal. The seminar was of a great value to everyone interested in business valuation and finance.

    During the next financial year, CFA Russia is planning to expand its training courses by bringing in a few new instructors and updating its course curriculum. Stay tuned to consider participating as a student or an instructor

  • 14 Jun 2017 5:05 PM | Anonymous

    Melancholic reflections on the rainy day of June 13 were brightened by CFA Association Russia’s social event in Totibadze Gallery at the Moscow Contemporary Art Center Winzavod. CFA Russia invited Muriel Rousseau-Ovtchinnikov, a renowned French artist whose paintings are currently displayed at the gallery, to talk about her work, modern art, and fascinating stories of her life.

    For about 30 CFA Russia guests it was a great opportunity to put aside the monotony of work and see Muriel’s exhibition named The Weather Changes The Happiness Stays, catch up with each other, and do some business networking in a friendly environment over a glass of fine wine and French cheese.

    Above: Muriel Rousseau-Ovchinnikov

    Muriel moved to Russia in 1993 after marrying a Russian painter, Nikolai Ovtchinnikov. Since then she has worked as a painter, designer, as well as founded the famous chain of cafes, Jean-Jacques (named after Jean-Jacques Rousseau to whom Muriel can trace back her lineage).

    It is through painting Muriel tells the story of her life – childhood spent in France, adult years filled with happiness, her arrival to Moscow and falling in love with Russia. Guests were pleased to learn about Muriel’s stories through the exhibition that was a look into her soul and an attempt to capture memories filled with happiness.

    After Muriel’s presentation and a few follow-up questions, the event smoothly turned into a friendly networking session during which the guests had an opportunity to meet each other over a glass of red Chilean wine and the servings of Brie cheese.

    CFA Russia would like to thank Marina Tsurtsumia, the director of Totibadze Gallery, for helping us with the organization of the event.

  • 08 Jun 2017 4:33 PM | Anonymous

    CFA Association Russia continued hosting its regular business breakfast series at the Correa’s restaurant on June 8. This time CFA Russia invited Evgeniy Ivkin, an expert in crisis management, who focused on how to sustain a stable growth and avoid making poor business decisions.

    Having obtained an MBA from Northwestern University in Chicago and worked in 15 different countries, Evgeniy brought an international perspective on conducting business in Russia. During the presentation he pointed out common mistakes that Russian companies make and suggested a few business strategies to prevent losses.

    Evgeniy explained the method of basic screening to filter out companies that cannot be saved by a crisis manager during the times of trouble. According to Evgeniy, there are four types of business models that cannot be fixed: businesses based on personal relationships, poorly managed businesses whose owners want a crisis manager to fix everything for them, businesses whose owners want a crisis manager to bring back the money he/she stole, and businesses that became ineffective a long time ago but their owners only noticed it now.

    There are two types of businesses in Russia, those that operate as a system and “chaotic” businesses. The former is a stable and coherent model, but unfortunately only 1-5 percent of Russian companies work that way. The other 95-99 percent operate chaotically, the guest speaker explained.

    A key factor in conducting a successful business is to focus on something one knows really well. “The typical mistake is to change one market segment to another or what is worse to start working in a completely different industry without enough knowledge and skills”, Evgeniy said.

    Another common mistake is to focus on personal interests of owners rather than those of clients. Sometimes entrepreneurs try to import business ideas from Europe or the United States and use them in Russia, but more often than not, their ideas fail due to significant differences in the market systems, client preferences and their mentality, Evgeniy explained.

    To sum up his presentation, Evgeniy talked about the importance of always working on the improvement of one’s business. “Business can be compared with the traffic light: it cannot stay the same for a long time, it always changes,” the speaker concluded.

    Text by Oxana Kozlova

  • 05 Jun 2017 4:23 PM | Anonymous

    Although the principle of diversification is a key investment management strategy, when it comes to gender diversity, the investment industry is still largely dominated by men. CFA Institute recognizes this and is currently pushing to close the gender gap in the investment profession.

    Some countries, like Vietnam (43 percent) and Romania (39 percent), have a better men-to-women ratio than others, such as Saudi Arabia (3 percent) and Qatar (6 percent); however, according to a 2016 CFA Institute study, Gender Diversity in Investment Managementwomen represent less than one in five CFA charterholders globally.

    In Russia, the number of female CFA charterholders has increased by 2 percent over the past year. The 2016 report revealed that 15.5 percent of CFA charterholders in Russia were women. In 2017, that number has risen to 17.5 percent.

    Gary Baker, Managing Director of CFA Institute EMEA (on the left) and Neil Withers, President of CFA Association Russia (on the right) during CFA Russia's Annual Charter Awards Ceremony in December of 2016.

    Compared to other countries in Eastern Europe, Russia scored below Romania and Bulgaria (27.6 percent), but above Hungary (13.5 percent), Ukraine (13.1 percent), Poland (12.2 percent), and the Czech Republic (11.1 percent).

    The two percent hike also brought Russia closer to the United Kingdom (20 percent) and put it above the United States (16.4 percent).

    On a more long-term basis, CFA Russia has shown an increasing trend in the number of female charterholders. There has been a steady rise from 14.8 percent in 2013 to 17.5 percent in 2017.

    During his visit in Moscow, Paul Smith, CEO of CFA Institute, emphasized the importance of bringing in more women into the investment profession and making it more diverse. Some of the strategies of attracting and retaining women professionals include university outreach programs and educating companies on the effectiveness of a mixed-gender workforce.  

  • 01 Jun 2017 12:17 PM | Anonymous

    Paul Smith, President of CFA Institute, spent a day in Moscow meeting the board members of CFA Association Russia before heading to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPEIF).

    CFA Russia board members met Paul for breakfast and had a chance to get to know him personally, before moving to the discussion of issues surrounding CFA Institute, its societies worldwide and future plans to increase membership and improve the global brand of the professional association.

    Having worked in the investment management industry and held various top positions in major financial companies across the world, the president of CFA Institute brought a lot to the table.

    “CFA Institute is focused on trying to deliver on its mission that is to raise professional investment standards throughout the investment community globally,” Paul Smith said.

    The president said that currently CFA Institute is focusing on the demand side of the CFA charter, working to bring awareness to employers around the world about the designation and making the CFA charter more recognizable. The main idea is that once more companies start seeing the real value of the CFA charter and require it for certain positions, then more people would seek to obtain it, thus increasing a number of CFA members and candidates worldwide.

    As of late, China has become a global leader in the number of CFA candidates.

    “It’s just China, really, there is no secret… 40 percent of all our candidates come from China,” Paul said, adding that a large portion of CFA Institute’s revenues now come from Asia.

    Apart from the increase of CFA candidates in Asia, Paul also mentioned about CFA Institute’s push to include more women in the investment profession. Currently, the numbers are not great, but the organization is working hard to change this, the president said.

    Finally, Paul and CFA Russia board members discussed some of the strategies on how to increase a number of members in local societies by improving membership value. The board members talked about future targets and goals that CFA Russia is aiming to achieve within the next couple of years.

    After spending a day in Moscow, Paul went to St. Petersburg to attend the SPIEF-2017 that is held during June 1-3. 

  • 24 May 2017 12:34 PM | Anonymous

    On March 23, CFA Association Russia held its regular business breakfast, focusing on the early stages of startups and how their founders could build successful businesses with the help of venture capitalists.

    The invited speakers at the event held at the Food House restaurant, which has lately become a regular gathering place for the CFA Russia community, were Dmitry Chikhachev, Managing Partner at the venture capital firm Runa Capital, and Mikhail Ushakov, a young entrepreneur known for the development of Forksy, software designed for weight loss and healthy-eating and the browser extensions company Metabar that a few years ago was successfully sold to Russian Internet-giant Yandex.

    When dealing with the management of a startup, investors should only be motivated by how to best allocate available resources to maximize their value, Dmitry explained. Whereas startup founders can (and often have) other non-monetary incentives, such as comfort, a desire to work with his/her friends only or even a dream to change the world, investors’ key interests should be focused on the increase of a company’s cost.

    Dmitry Chikhachev from Runa Kapital talking to Boris Tawakkoli (left), a member of CFA Russia's board of directors, and Vladimir Tutkevich, CFA Russia's executive director.

    Although startup founders seek personal interests when managing their companies, they should understand that when they sign an agreement with investors, their personal interests should be put aside.

    “The moment you sign an investment agreement, you become judicially responsible to satisfy the needs of your investors and shareholders,” Dmitry said.

    The speaker also added that the idea of fiduciary duty and all the legal responsibilities that come with it are a common thing in the West; however, some startup founders in Russia still fail to follow and oblige this concept.

    According to Mikhail Ushakov, the most important moment for a startup founder is when his/her company becomes profitable. That is the key and that is what all startup founders should strive for.

    Mikhail Ushakov, the founder of Forksy

    Speaking about the relations with investors, Mikhail pointed out the importance of trust.

    “It can be hard to achieve, as startup founders and investors may have different interests, but it’s important to build trust,” Mikhail emphasized, adding that without the element of trust it can be hard to become successful.

    The speakers soon turned their presentation into a dialogue, as the members of an audience were eager to ask questions and join a conversation. Compared to the San Francisco Bay Area, Russian startups may be in their infancy, however, slowly but surely, new entrepreneurial ventures are starting to get traction in Moscow and other big Russian cities.

    CORRECTION: The previous version stated that Mikhail Ushakov sold Forksy to Yandex. This turned out to be false; instead, Mikhail sold his another startup to Yandex, the browser extensions company Metabar.

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