Financial sector has potential to transform developing economies: Pravesh Rijal, New York-based banker

Pravesh Rijal at the Financial Sector Conference, Riyadh

NL Today

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Kathmandu: Pravesh Rijal, a New York-based banker, has said that the financial sector has the potential to transform developing economies.

Rijal, who is in Riyadh now to take part in the Financial Sector Conference being organized by the Saudi Financial Sector Development Program (FSDP) partners – the Ministry of Finance, Saudi Central Bank (SAMA), and the Capital Market Authority, said that developing economies like Nepal should leverage their potential to attract international finance through foreign direct investment along with technology transfer.

Rijal is perhaps the only Nepali diaspora leader, attending the high-profile, by-invitation-only event, taking place at the King Abdulaziz International Conference Center in Riyadh on March 15 and 16.  The conference brings together decision-makers in the financial sector and senior executives in local, regional, and international financial institutions, as well as international investors, entrepreneurs, and prominent academics.

Taking place in the shadow of the Russian-Ukraine war and uncertainties created due to the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank of the US, the conference is deliberating on challenges and opportunities facing the global economy, supply chain constraints, a changing world order, the protracted pandemic, and other factors causing slow growth in many regions worldwide that affect the financial sector and its ecosystem, among others.

“These are challenging times for the financial sector but medium and long-term prospects are quite promising,” said Rijal, who is head of Quantitative Strategies at Crossriver – where he enables global fintech players to shape the future of finance via his team’s strategic investments, instrumentation and market building.

Bringing Nepal to the World

Pravesh said that he makes a point to highlight his Nepali roots and carries it proudly at every conference, seminar, forum, and meetup he is speaking at. “I believe that this simple act of representation can help build awareness and support for Nepal. We need to build a brand for Nepal, we need to advertise how all of us Nepalis have been contributing every day to make an impact in our respective industries globally. Above individual achievements, it is my Nepali roots I want the world to see, so that tomorrow the global marketplace sees us as doers and achievers. It helps build trust, which goes a long way,” he added.

According to Pravesh, financial services is about unlocking markets, enabling people, and creating opportunities through intermediation and innovation. “At its core today, the financial services industry is more about technology, science, and math rather than finance, and Nepal has a huge opportunity to leverage its tech-savvy workforce. One of my agenda is to be able to enhance the human resource capital of Nepal, upskill them and send a message to the world that Nepali resources are high-value assets and not just cheap labor. What better venue than Saudi Arabia,” he added.

From Biratnagar to New York 

Born in Biratnagar, Nepal, Pravesh came to Kathmandu after completing his SLC from St Joseph’s school, Biratnagar. His journey took him across continents, from Australia to Europe to North America. His academics include degrees from New York University and Oxford University. Starting his career earlier, he worked for hedge funds managing 100+ billion dollars in his 20s and since then has held many high-level roles on Wall Street for global banks including Citigroup.

“I try to visit Nepal at least 3 to 4 times a year and spend time with my colleagues in the financial services industry here. Both in regulatory agencies as well as the commercial sector. I learn from them every day and always have my offer for knowledge sharing on the table. In the past I have done pro bono work with Nepali institutions around knowledge sharing and capacity building, which I plan to continue,” said Rijal.

Pravesh Rijal at the Financial Sector Conference, Riyadh