Sumit Bhandari: Embracing Success By Doing The Hard Work In The Right Way

Sumit Bhandari: Embracing Success By Doing The Hard Work In The Right Way

Sumit Bhandari, Managing Director

Sumit Bhandari

Managing Director

“The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes”, Benjamin Disraeli. CEO Insights’ exclusive team rendezvous a highflier, Sumit Bhandari, Managing Director, Allianz Global Investors, who turned his obstacles into opportunities and his problems into possibilities. Sumit comes from an engineering background and during his Master's program developed a keen interest in finance & business. He started his professional voyage with Lehman Brothers as an M&A Analyst and later co-managed its two-billiondollar portfolio of direct fixed income investments. This opportunity gave him an enriching experience of learning financial statement analysis & developing other analytical skills that enabled him to advise companies on crucial strategic, economic, and capital structure-related decisions. His exceptional ability to deal with inherent uncertainties and non-controllable factors in life & markets and use a probabilistic framework to make decisions has helped him to take up challenging roles throughout his career.

Before joining AllianzGI, Sumit has been instrumental in setting up Abraaj’s Private Credit business in Asia. Before joining Abraaj, he was a Director & Portfolio Manager at BlackRock in Singapore where he co-managed its Asian Credit portfolios. Over the years, the diligent leader has been involved in several prominent global restructuring posts in multiple leading organizations. Today, under his leadership, AllianzGI has flourished by more than one billion dollars under management and has firmly established itself as one of the prominent players in Asia's exciting private credit space.

Sumit is an accomplished leader who loves his job and possesses an extraordinary capability to provide customized, bespoke financing solutions to growing businesses throughout Asia. His ability to encourage the growth & development of each other as a team is incredibly rewarding and also adds to the friendly working environment of the organization. Let’s hear it from him.

Take us through your illustrious professional journey & experiences.

I began my journey as an investment banker in Lehman Brothers' M&A division in New York. After six years I shifted to a proprietary investing group within Lehman, where I could further build on my skills and put them to use in making actual investment decisions. One of the key things I learned at this investing group was how to make decisions using a probabilistic framework. Later in 2010, I came to Asia and worked with BlackRock; moving to Asia has been another incredible experience wherein I have watched a nascent market grow and the opportunity set expand multi-fold. I left BlackRock in 2016 to set up a private credit business at a small alternative private equity and credit manager called Abraaj. My remarkable efforts at Abraaj were noticed by Allianz, and I was hired in 2018 at Allianz Global Investors to set up an Asian private credit business.

How has been your path to success and what is your success mantra?

I have always believed in working hard and working right, and there is no substitute for that. With intellectual curiosity one is not only inclined to work hard but also work smart in an honest way. Also, the ability to bounce back from failures and show grit & self-belief is crucial.

How would you define Allianz Global Investors as an organization?

Allianz GI is one of the leading asset managers in the world with more than 500 billion Euro assets under management. I work in the private markets division, and we have experienced rapid growth in our strategy and AuM over the last decade. In private markets, alternative assets have increasingly taken a big role in investors’ portfolios as investors have pursued higher returns while diversifying their portfolios and risk. Allianz Global Investors is at the cutting edge of innovation and is an exciting place to work.

What is your sustainable investment approach that drives capital into real-life challenges and helps clients to participate in the global transition toward a more sustainable world?

We take ESG risks in investing very seriously. Our approach is one that of engagement with all borrowers. We seek to work with companies that are already compliant with their local laws and regulations. Through our engagement and due diligence, we further incentivize them to make steps towards achieving the best international ESG practices and standards. We also have a dedicated Energy Transition strategy where we engage with & invest in renewable energy companies throughout Asia and provide them with growth capital to further build out solar, hydro, wind, or geothermal power.

I have always believed in working hard and working right, and there is no substitute for that

What are some of the major challenges you have experienced in your journey so far? How did you overcome them?

I was an engineer by training who switched fields and went to work with one of the pre-eminent investment banks in the world. All my colleagues had prior knowledge and expertise in finance, and I had to work extremely hard to reach their level. In the early part of my career, I spent several days pouring over financial statements, accounting policies, and rules, to bridge the gap with my peers. However, that became incredibly difficult as we were faced with one of the worst recessions of our time post 9/11, and I had to dig deep to survive and thrive in an environment of economic contraction and job cuts. Eventually, self-belief in my abilities and always being a student of the subject made me overcome that challenge.

Another challenging time in my life came in 2018 when the firm I was working at shut down. Not only was I facing the threat of unemployment, but I also had people relying on me to ensure that their livelihoods were protected. The taint of the firm limited the opportunities available to me, but when the right opportunity in Allianz presented itself, I was prepared and ready to make it count. Life does give chances, but one has to be prepared and ready to grab the opportunity with both hands. I count establishing the Asian private credit business at Allianz Global Investors as one of my most successful pursuits.

“Life does give chances, but one has to be prepared and ready to grab the opportunity with both hands”

What are the changes in market behavior that you anticipate and what are the opportunities that you foresee?

We have come through a decade where financial asset performance has materially outperformed real economic performance. This has been a global phenomenon that can be attributed to the unprecedented monetary easing done by central banks around the world post the Lehman crash. I do not expect this to continue anymore as the era of easy money is over. This would bring back the longforgotten art of picking the right businesses to invest in. I also expect that geopolitical considerations will play a big part in how investors think about their portfolio construction. Moreover, climate change is one of the most serious challenges our generation faces, and a lot of the business and investing community will have to be a part of the solution here. I expect Venture Capital, Private credit and equity, and public markets to play a vital role in addressing these challenges.

What would be your advice to individuals starting anew in this domain?

My advice to every young person starting in this field would be to pursue it for the right reasons. There will be several ups and downs and the only thing that will get one through is intellectual curiosity and perseverance. How businesses make decisions, grow and execute can be incredibly fascinating, and one needs to enjoy the process and learn along the way. Practice humility. In real life, there is ambiguity & uncertainty and one would be wrong in their decision-making several times, the ability to learn from those mistakes & improvise is critical.

Sumit Bhandari, Managing Director, Allianz Global Investors

Having a B.S. from IIT Bombay and an M.S. from the University of Michigan, Sumit is the Lead Portfolio

Manager, Asia Private Credit, Alternative Investments with Allianz Global Investors based in Singapore. He joined the firm in 2018 and has over 20 years of experience in investment management and business development.

Hobbies: Reading & playing tennis

Favorite Cuisine: Indian & Greek

Favorite Book: The Nightingale

Favorite Travel Destination: Greece

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