An Apeejay alumna, who works in a fintech company, advocates for inculcating good financial habits in school children
By Disha Roy Choudhury: Karunanjali Tandon, an alumna of Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park, completed her bachelor’s degree in Statistic Honours from Delhi University and went on to pursue a career in market research.
Currently working as the Lead-Market Research and Consumer Insights in a fintech company called Bread Financial, she has worked with other top companies like PepsiCo and Mercer in the past.
In an interview, she tells us about the rapidly emerging digital payment apps, the need for “financial wellness”, and more. Read:
What memories do you have of Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park?
School was a lot of fun. I made good friends—I am still in touch with a lot of people from Apeejay. One of my fondest memories of my growing up years is using the swimming pool. That was one of my favourite activities in school.
How did you decide to pursue a career in market research?
It happened accidentally; I didn’t really work towards it (laughs). My first job right after college, where I luckily joined the market research team, grabbed my interest.
That was my first experience in this industry, which I loved. Since then, I have been in the market research field–It has been almost seven-eight years.
What does it take to be a good market research professional?
An analytical and logical mindset is very important. Good communication skills are also a prerequisite since you have to interact with many colleagues and vendors. The other bit would be story-building, learning how to connect the dots, and so on.
What does your work at Bread Financial involve?
Bread Financial is a US-based Fintech company. Their only office in India is in Bengaluru, which is the one I am working for.
My work entails gathering information and knowledge about the financial outlook and situation of the US. A lot of the work also involves talking to the leadership, understanding their research-related needs, and what they want to know, and trying to figure out the gaps.
This also includes working with a lot of vendors, preparing survey questionnaires, managing the results, and presenting it back to the leadership.
In what ways has technology really revolutionised the financial services sector in recent years?
In the past five-six years, technology has penetrated our lives in a big way. So many of us in India are using peer-to-peer and buy now pay later apps.
Every time you are shopping online, you come across 7-10 payment options. More brands are getting added to that list every day. In my opinion, the fintech space in India is way ahead.
Technology, therefore, has definitely affected the financial sector a lot. The negative side of using these digital payment products is also that people might overshoot their budget due to higher spending power, leading to debt.
The charges that you incur if you don’t make the payments on time are huge, which is something many people get trapped in. So, financial education is very important for everybody.
Indeed, especially at a time when there are so many instances of financial fraud through payment apps. Are companies actively taking initiatives to combat this?
Of course, every financial organisation would have their checks and balances in place to minimise fraud like CIBIL score, which is what credit card organisations have to check before issuing a card.
Besides, you are alerted about every transaction via SMS or email, which helps the user keep a check. With the fintech sector booming, a lot of companies are coming up, some of which are not government-regulated.
So, the users also need to be careful about where they are putting their money. That is why financial education is crucial for all age groups, including college-going adults, young professionals as well as the elderly. In fact, a lot of companies are actually focusing more on this aspect.
How important do you think is it to promote financial education at the school level?
I would say it is one of the biggest lessons to learn. If the correct financial habits are inculcated at the school level, it will protect children from falling into debt traps when they start earning, which is commonly seen in new professionals—they are unsure of how to budget their income, save money, and so on.
Of course, budgeting and saving at the school level would be very different but it would be a starting point to help them grow up to be informed individuals.
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