Founder of Noah
Sahil Gupta is the founder of Noah.
Please share a little bit about your background and what led you to MSCF.
I was born in India and spent most of my childhood in Delhi. I immigrated to the United States to attend Carnegie Mellon University when I was 21. Coming out of undergrad, I didn’t have any work experience, but I was passionate about financial services. Capital markets did not always exist in India; I remember the first time my dad got a credit card; it was a big deal. We didn’t know how it worked – but access to capital is foundational in many ways, and I knew I wanted a more formal education in it.
When did you first become interested in quantitative finance?
With my engineering background, I was always thinking about how to build new financial products. To do this, you need to understand and price products to satisfy both capital markets and consumers. Quantitative finance focuses more on pricing, helping you better balance supply and demand.
What attracted you to MSCF compared to other programs?
The multidisciplinary aspect. I knew math and engineering, but the MSCF program allowed me to delve into economics and statistics. MBAs usually don’t get into the development of financial products, but once I left the MSCF program, I not only knew how products worked but also how to build and invest them. CMU is one of the top schools in the world with impressive faculty. I wanted to collaborate and work with professors like Steven Shreve and Duane Seppi – those who are truly the best in their fields.
How would you describe the ideal student for MSCF?
Have experience in financial services or another industry with data analytics. It will allow you to marry what you learn with where there are gaps in the industry, and you can adapt, accordingly. Try to have an understanding of your desired career path after the program. Given its multidisciplinary nature, you can go in different directions. I highly encourage students to leverage their knowledge of finance to build technology solutions at startups. As you go through the program and see what is available, identify what the industry needs and know how to position yourself and your peers as essential talent.
What is your advice to those currently enrolled in the program?
Society is realizing that finance is foundational to making things happen. You need to expand your horizons. Your only options are not just London, Hong Kong and New York City. You have tremendous value in Silicon Valley, and what you learn can be applied at an even higher level at startups. You have to get out of the traditional finance mindset. If you can, you will be better in the long-term. This is where I benefited. I was the only one out of my class to move west and work at three startups.
How did your internship experience influence your career path?
A lot of my peers chose to intern at banks in New York and London, but I was the only one to work in Vancouver. My internship at Connor Clark & Lunn Investment Management showed me that maturity of capital decisions are made on the buy side. I got to see where the supply of money comes from and how large firms think about risk and return. When you’re in sales and trading, you are thinking daily, weekly and quarterly profit, but on the buy side, you think in years down the road, which forces a discipline of long-term alignment. I went on to work at Mellon Capital Management and then a Fintech startup, which I knew was a risk, but it gave me an opportunity to build something that would ultimately impact consumers. The same happened with Motif Investing – I couldn’t pass up another opportunity. I learned how to use data and quant finance to build new types of financial products.
What are other ways the MSCF program helped you in your career?
In addition to the internship, the option pricing class and Stochastic Calculus courses with Shreve were invaluable. Our company has derived a lot of work in those areas. We help homeowners hedge the value of the home and then package the securities – selling them to investors.
How did MSCF influence your decision to pursue a career in Fintech vs. Wall Street?
When the 2008 financial crisis hit, Wall Street was different, but it came out fine. But the average consumer never fully recovered. I knew I wanted to focus on Main Street – aligning interests with Wall Street – and create partnerships and equal systems where both sides could thrive and succeed over the long term. I’ve been in Fintech since 2011, and it has evolved massively. When I first started, there were a handful of companies. Now, Fintech has perpetrated every aspect of technology and has made its way into companies. Today, Fintech is such a broad category – touching everything from the underlying infrastructure and accounts to money management and retirement. Fintech 1.0 was taking traditional financial products and leveraging technology to distribute existing products. We are now in Fintech 2.0 – building new types of financial products, using technology to make products more efficient, pricing them more effectively and distributing them around the world. Products are more integrated, more complex and ultimately better suited to service a broader set of consumer needs.
What do you enjoy most about your career?
Throughout my career, I kept seeing a common theme – while the financial services space evolved, the average consumer still struggled with cash flow. I thought this was a problem worth solving. I wanted to build a product that helps consumers and would be in demand from investors. We help consumers with long-term capital by transitioning the risk of home equity to institutional investors who want that risk. As the founder, I focus on capital and fundraising – working with partners on venture capital and institutional investors within the United States and abroad. I also work closely with our engineering and data science teams on new product development. Our vision is to develop a suite of financial product services to help consumers through their home ownership journey. It is incredibly rewarding to build something people want and see value in. When they take a leap of faith and invest in your product, it is the start of change and a disruptive force. And that is worth everything.