Interview with CA. Anurag Verma | Forensic Auditor | Data Analytics | Investor | Founder and CEO at Astron Financial Advisors

Anurag Verma

At BrilliantRead Media, it is our constant endeavour to identify and share some of the unique and compelling stories from the startup ecosystem. As part of this, we invited yet another passionate entrepreneur Anurag Verma for an interview with BrilliantRead Media. He is a Chartered Accountant, Forensic Auditor, Advisor, Certified Ethical Hacker, Data Analyst, Consultant, Investor and Mentor. Anurag is the Founder and CEO of Astron Financial Advisors. Let’s learn more about his background, his inspiring journey so far and his advice for our growing community!

Excerpts from our exclusive interview with Anurag:

We are aware of your contribution to the ecosystem, talk us through your background and your journey as an entrepreneur, please;

After completing my schooling in commerce stream from Hans Raj Model School, Punjabi Bagh, Delhi and discussion with my mom and dad (a Practicing CA and a Hotelier), I decided to pursue Chartered Accountancy course from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and simultaneously my graduation from IGNOU in Accounting & Finance.

By the time I was in CA finals, I understood that with focus any hard nut can be cracked. Everybody knows it is one of the toughest professional courses in the world but again nothing is impossible if you give your best.

My first and current job is with a reputed healthcare company, I look after their finances. I have always been intrigued by entrepreneurship and read the success stories of many successful entrepreneurs.

Every day on my way back from the office I used to think of new entrepreneurial ideas as I wanted to do something of my own, but I was stuck pondering. So, I decided to enhance my skills and knowledge to help myself begin the entrepreneurial journey.”

I qualified multiple post-qualification and other courses run by ICAI for qualified CAs. i.e DISA-Information Systems Auditor, Forensics Accounting using CAAT Tools, FAFD-Forensic Accounting & Fraud Detection, MBF-Masters in Business Finance, Executive program on Data Analytics, Block Chain Technology, etc.

After qualifying these I was able to better understand, design, change, improve and implement complete internal financial controls and compliance processes within the organisation which equipped the company for the next expansion stage and helped save substantial operational costs over the period.

I was fortunate enough to get management support and an opportunity to use my knowledge for the betterment of the organisation. I was also overwhelmed after knowing that the chairman of the company for which I’m working happened to be my school principal. It was always very interesting, and I felt immense pleasure whenever he used to come to the office and do the number crunching with me and proudly used to tell everyone that I’m his school student.

I also had a keen interest in IT since the beginning as I always find it very fascinating how software (like Excel, word, python etc.) can make your work life so much easier. Days can be reduced to hours and hours to minutes.”

Knowledge of these tools also becomes important in the growing economy focused on Artificial intelligence, data analytics, etc. The whole game pivots around the data that the IT infrastructure is generating in today’s time which will only increase in the years to come at a much faster pace.

So, to have a better understanding I further pursued CEH i.e., Certified Ethical Hacker and several other courses revolving around data security, analytics and monitoring tools. CA being a finance person, it is always very useful and interesting to have knowledge of IT.

I was also selected by my organisation for pursuing various courses on financial analysis, negotiation skills etc. The very recent being, the executive program on Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurial Studies from the prestigious IIM Ahmedabad to help develop, promote and motivate an entrepreneurial mindset within the team and the organisation.

I’m also a freelance fraud and forensics auditor and have done multiple assignments in forensics, data analytics, project feasibility analysis, debt restructuring etc. across various industries. I also help my dad with his CA practice and our hotel business.

What attracts you towards entrepreneurship instead of a corporate career?

I’m an entrepreneur who also has a corporate career. Apart from looking after the finance department, I also help with strategic management support, decision-making, business process improvement, compliances, in-house legal, treasury management etc. of one of the leading healthcare organisations in the industry.

It will be 10 years in 2023 and it has been an amazing journey. I have learned from my dad that it is always good to have multiple sources of income, hence I chose part-time entrepreneurship.”

You see – It’s fascinating how you build something from scratch to build an empire around it. It takes a lot of courage, planning, perseverance, hard work, team work, combined with good strategy & execution skills. Thanks to all the people and my clients for trusting me and giving me valuable input to make the journey a lot easier.

‘Astron Financial Advisors ’is such a unique name; talk us through more about it, please. Our audience would also love to know what kind of problem you are solving?

During my job I was also assigned the responsibility for company treasury and was introduced to an investment industry veteran by the management who guided and advised on how the investment industry runs.

This was the first time I took some interest in the investment world and I did a lot of research about it, met many wealth managers, representatives from different banks and institutions and understood why investments are so important and why compounding is said to be the 8th wonder of the world. This was a game-changer moment for me.

As I was always very passionate about building something of my own, I decided to be a Financial Advisor and further pursued a course from the National Institute of Securities Market to become a Mutual Fund Distributor.

Investment is all about making money from money which always fascinates me a lot. “Astron” comes from a Greek word which means “a Star” and was suggested by my lovely sister. This is how Astron Financial Advisors was born.

I further did a lot of research on understanding the markets and an investor’s perspective while investing their hard-earned money. I started discussing about investments with my family members, friends, relatives, and office colleagues.

After taking views from many, I understood that it’s not like people don’t want to save or are not saving, they are, but much of the chunk goes into fixed deposits and insurance policies with the mindset that these are the best and the safest investment options available.

Either they are too afraid to invest in markets or they do not understand it, or someone sold a wrong product at some time in which they suffered a loss and are of the opinion that equities don’t suit them. People are often misguided in the investment industry and end up losing hard-earned money or even their life savings.

So, we try to make people aware about the golden rule of investing i.e., the earlier you start the better, to reap the maximum compounding benefits out of it. Investments in equity via “Mutual Funds & SIPs” is one of the best things one can do at an early stage to become financially independent as MFs provide instant diversification.

There’s a fund for everyone that can match your risk appetite, investment horizons, and personal financial goals. We are trying our best to promote the mindset of Har Ghar SIP and that Mutual funds Sahi hai..!!

“Start Small but Start Investing. Slow and steadily one can even climb the mountains.”

What does your company specialise in?

Astron Financial Advisors is an Investment and Financial Advisory firm started in 2018 specializing in personal and business finances.

I want to help people understand and manage their personal finances in a much simpler way by understanding the products they are investing in and to develop multiple sources of income for themselves and their families while diversifying risk and maintaining liquidity to meet emergencies at the same time.

It’s not like we’re doing something special as there are many big players in the industry doing this already for decades, but we believe that we’re special for our clients as they trust us with their hard-earned money.

We manage both individual and family portfolios and advise clients only on plain vanilla products that they can understand and are comfortable with. Transparency is the key.

Our Assets under management have multiplied by 10 times since we started our journey in 2018 due to the trust and confidence that our clients have shown in us.

We offer all services related to personal and business finances including ITR filing under a single umbrella with a major focus on mutual fund investments.

Who do you believe has been the biggest source of motivation in your daily life?

Motivation is all around us if we try to see the good in people. Everyone is special in their own way and every conversation we have or places we visit or things we do, inspire and motivate us in a different way preparing us to be ready for the future to come.

So, daily life experiences are the biggest motivation for me and of course, my parents too who have always guided me in all the aspects of my life, good or bad whatever the case is. They are always of the opinion that I’ll get whatever I need when the time is right, and it is not important to get answers to all questions on the spot.

They taught me to be patient, empathize and be a smarter person. Also, doing my bit by helping people become financially aware of their financial choices keeps me motivated.

What are some of the strategies that you believe have helped you grow as a person?

Things which have helped me grow as a person are:

· Being Focused and dedicated

· Try to help as many people as possible

· Thinking out of the box

· Taking calculated risks & not just risk

· Success comes with criticism, don’t get disappointed and believe in yourself.

In your opinion what are the keys to success?

I believe the definition of success is different for everyone. For me, success means staying happy. Money for me is secondary because all the money in the world is useless if one is not happy.

A few key things I believe are important:

· Enjoy what you do

· Find small things to stay happy

· Be curious and never stop learning

· Never be afraid to fail

· Don’t be hesitant to ask questions

What advice would you give students and young professionals who want to have a successful career?

Well, I would advise that everyone has their own set of goals and different definitions of a successful career. But the most important thing one should keep in mind is to never be afraid to fail, every problem has a solution (the race is about who comes up with the solution first), understand the importance of empathy and have a positive and growth mindset.

Also, before proceeding with any entrepreneurial journey, one should do due research and not only look at the good things that can happen but also the wrong that can happen if things go sideways, as people often ignore the bad side of things assuming everything will be in their favour.

In business one should always expect the unexpected, hence continuing knowledge and adapting to new technologies is very important to take a calculated call on how the idea can be monetised and be scaled up. Eventually, whatever one does, the basic need is to earn good money out of the business because it is the surplus profit that will help you expand your business or create a new source of income by investing in other avenues.

Remember when starting your entrepreneurial journey – It is never too early and never too late. You’ll eventually get what’s yours when the time is right. Enjoying the journey and what you do is more important.

Life teaches lessons in its own way which no book or mentor can tell you. Experience teaches you things that knowledge can never teach you. But no doubt knowledge and experience together will take you a long way towards success.

Last but not least, what are the three most important lessons you have learned in your life?

I’ve realised that spending time with the family is very important. It is the most precious thing one can have in life. One should learn to maintain a work-life balance.

Life and the world out there is like a jungle and it takes a lot to survive. We usually start understanding this as we grow up older.

One cannot succeed if one cannot accept failure and criticism. So, keep learning, growing, and adapting. Do whatever good you can whenever you can.

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Please don’t forget to read – Interview with Atul K Sharmaa | Finance Leader | Chartered Accountant | Domain Expert

BrilliantRead is committed to bringing stories from the startup ecosystem, stories that reshape our perspective, add value to our community and be a constant source of motivation not just for our community but also for the whole ecosystem of entrepreneurs and aspiring individuals.
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