From CFTE Alumni to Chief Investment Officer at an emerging Fintech Company in Asia, before moving into the Wealth Management space – the story of Gustavo Leal

*This interview has been edited to fit.

CFTE spoke to our alumni Gustavo Leal, who is currently an advisor at a fintech firm Kilde and a relationship manager at SingAlliance. Gustavo has made a brave turnaround from corporate finance to fintech innovation before finally moving to the Wealth Management industry. Let’s hear more about his journey and his dedication to lifelong learning. 

CFTE: What is your background? And what is your current job title and mission?

Gustavo: I come from a robust background in corporate finance and private banking, having accumulated years of expertise working in innovative companies. My journey began at IBM, which provided me with the opportunity to delve into diverse roles within corporate finance, embedded in a global organisation. This experience eventually led me to transition into the role of Chief Investment Officer (CIO) at an emerging FinTech company in Asia, marking a pivotal shift in my career trajectory. Currently, I am deeply entrenched in the investment world, serving as a Relationship Manager within an External Asset Manager (EAM) firm. This role allows me to leverage my background and experience to deliver value to clients, in alignment with their objectives and needs.

CFTE: Since when are you a CFTE alumni? How did you hear about CFTE and what programme did you take?

Gustavo: During my first year in Asia in 2019, I became acquainted with CFTE as I embarked on a journey to explore the diverse technologies and capabilities shaping the Fintech space. Eager to immerse myself in the dynamic startup ecosystem and establish new connections within a thriving hub like Singapore, I actively sought pioneering programs that could equip me with the skills to navigate an evolving financial industry landscape, while also connecting with fellow professionals in the region. Fortunately, I came across CFTE, a platform offering a range of courses that aligned perfectly with these goals. As a result, I enrolled in the AI in Finance and Intrapreneurship programs.

New Skills in the Financial Services Industry

CFTE: What was your main motivation for taking the courses? Were there any specific insights you gained throughout your career that prompted you to learn about these topics?

Gustavo: Having experienced a significant career transition after completing a full-time MBA program, I shifted from a large corporation to actively pursue opportunities in the startup landscape. This change brought to my attention the need to stay updated with new requirements and the array of tools available. While my tenure at IBM undoubtedly nurtured my forward-thinking approach, the rapid pace at which advancements unfold has underscored the crucial importance of continuous learning and the examination of diverse resources to remain prepared for the demands of the industry, particularly within the Fintech ecosystem. Guided by my curiosity, I delved into investigating how innovative companies approach credit scoring processes and explored various tools and frameworks designed to empower individuals in refining their investment strategies. Enrolling in courses like AI in Finance proved to be profoundly enlightening, offering a clearer understanding of multiple cutting-edge technologies available in the market. Additionally, participating in the Intrapreneurship program facilitated connections with industry peers, further enriching my experience.

CFTE: How have you implemented the knowledge and skills you acquired through the courses in your career?

Gustavo: The courses I completed have been instrumental in shaping my career journey. This became evident when I joined an early-stage Fintech firm in Singapore. I combined my years of sector experience with the recent insights gained from the courses to effectively manage complex data sets. This synergy allowed me to enhance credit evaluations using advanced machine learning techniques highlighted in CFTE’s programs. By merging existing knowledge with cutting-edge skills, I have made meaningful contributions to my company’s efforts in creating a leading platform in the Fintech space.

CFTE: You have a lot of experience in financial services. What is the best advice you would give to someone who wants to start his/her or develop a career in finance?

Gustavo: The finance industry is undergoing significant transformation, and we can anticipate more structural changes in the years ahead, driven by the technology at our disposal. While stringent regulatory requirements have typically imposed constraints on such changes, we are witnessing the emergence of a dynamic ecosystem of unregulated service providers. These providers are not only becoming more relevant and serving as complementary players to larger organizations but are also pushing regulated financial institutions to accelerate the adoption of new technologies. Hence, remaining up-to-date and open-minded is not merely a desirable trait but an essential requirement in such a dynamic environment. Furthermore, financial experts must genuinely embrace a passion for the numerous ways they can enrich society through more effective and well-informed decision-making procedures. This passion is crucial for embracing the limitless possibilities that lie ahead.

CFTE: The current economic landscape in financial services is very uncertain and always evolving. Do you think professionals should continuously learn to improve their financial literacy and acquire new skills? How?

Gustavo: I’m a strong advocate for adopting a continuous learning mindset. This perspective holds significance not only for staying current and well-equipped to navigate challenges within your organization, but also for amplifying your overall achievements and network. I observe that the world is increasingly becoming both specialized and interdisciplinary. Therefore, enrolling in various courses can serve as a compass to help you stay focused while maintaining the enthusiasm needed to effectively manage the countless changes that come your way.

The Lifelong Journey

CFTE: If you had to describe the learning journey in 3 words or less, what would they be?

Gustavo: Drawing inspiration from the Agile method, I could emphasize the words ‘learn, deploy, and refine’ as a guiding mantra. This implies that individuals should strive to engage with the available content and tools, gain practical experience, and explore novel avenues as needed throughout their learning journey within an unending cycle.

CFTE: How would you recommend CFTE’s programme to your networks or those who wanted to upskill themselves?

Gustavo: I strongly recommend — and I have done so in the past — that professionals seeking to learn about innovative tools and valuable frameworks in a structured manner should consider trying CFTE courses. The platform is not only a repository of excellent content, but it’s also a place where you can expand your network by connecting with experienced professionals in the finance industry.

CFTE: Any other thoughts on your journey with CFTE?

Gustavo: It was a pleasure to be both an Alumnus and an affiliated consultant at CFTE. As I took my initial steps in Asia, I turned to CFTE to discover cutting-edge technologies available for financial professionals and enhance my network in the region. Additionally, I provided support to the company on internal initiatives, which afforded me the opportunity to engage further with the fantastic CFTE staff and its wonderful founders, all while contributing valuable insights.

The Importance of Multidisciplinary Learning

This journey showcases an agile approach to career development. Through flexible learning in the latest subjects, including AI in Finance and participation in the  CFTE x Revolut extrapreneurship programme, Gustavo was able to enter the fintech industry. Financial industry professionals have to continuously develop their skills in order to grow in the industry and manage innovative fintech projects effectively.

The  industry undergoes a rapid transformation, while fintech products are created with regulations built around them. Executive education is important for developing companies, countries at a large scale. 

“Hence, remaining up-to-date and open-minded is not merely a desirable trait but an essential requirement in such a dynamic environment. Furthermore, financial experts must genuinely embrace a passion for the numerous ways they can enrich society through more effective and well-informed decision-making procedures.,” – as Gustavo Leal suggests. 

Learn more about our AI in Finance course and follow Gustavo Leal on LinkedIn to gain insight into the fintech field in Singapore. 

At CFTE, we believe in the importance of continuous learning, in order to prepare the capability and right knowledge in the workforce, or more broadly the whole community. In a digital-transforming world, we bet on people, and we are keen to share stories from our alumni like Gustavo Leal.

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