“Why our schools should include financial literacy curriculums” with Sidharth Sogani and Jason Hartman

I always wanted to learn about money and finance, because if you master managing money, you can fit in any industry even if there is a switch in your career. That’s exactly what has happened with me. I had the pleasure of interviewing Sidharth Sogani, who is heading CREBACO Global Inc, a research and intelligence […]

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I always wanted to learn about money and finance, because if you master managing money, you can fit in any industry even if there is a switch in your career. That’s exactly what has happened with me.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Sidharth Sogani, who is heading CREBACO Global Inc, a research and intelligence company focused on Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies. There are very few companies which are focusing on due diligence and audit on this emerging tech of the Blockchain industry. Sidharth is Double Masters and is also heading the 3-generation old family business of Textiles from India which was started by his grandfather in 1932.

Thank you for doing this with us! Our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance industry?

I always wanted to learn about money and finance, because if you master managing money, you can fit in any industry even if there is a switch in your career. That’s exactly what has happened with me. After completing my studies, I joined family business in Textiles as it had my attention since teenage years. I used to look at the finances, accounts and entire export documentation which included many compliances that time. We also used to book forward contracts or cover USD to secure our FOB prices in exports. I used to do it with the exchanges rather than banks as it was cheaper for the company. Along with that I was also involved in trading and investing in stocks as it was my area of interest.

In 2015 I discovered Bitcoin and realized that it has great potential to grow due to its various features. The most important one was that it was not controlled by any government and was borderless. In 2016, I thought why not start portfolio management focused on only Bitcoin and other Alt Coins! It received fantastic response as there were handful of people in the industry doing that at that time. Later in 2018, I founded CREBACO along with Dhawal and Jagdish which was focused on making the Blockchain and Crypto Industry a much more regulated and safer space for investing.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

In 2017, I happened to invest in an ICO (Initial Coin Offering), which later turned out to be a scam. I lost money in that. I tried looking for the people who were heading that company, their incorporation details, etc but found nothing. I tried reaching out to the communities and discovered that I was not the only one, thousands of people were cheated. The reason which I figured out was lack of regulation, lack of education in investment in digital assets and borderless nature of cryptocurrencies. This means you can cheat some investor in Singapore, while you are in Europe. I thought that being borderless is a gift and many can access the financial system through this, there are also millions of people who are unbanked and Bitcoin can solve this problem. But due to lack of regulation, the scammers are leveraging this technology to dupe people. That’s when we founded CREBACO, Credit Rating for Exchanges, Blockchains and Coin Offerings. 
I learnt that when you see a potential which can bring change, make a difference to the way we live, something which can make human life better, it must be encouraged. The governments are still understanding this technology — but before they could understand, the scammers jumped in and started using the tech behind Bitcoin to scam people. To curb it, we took the initiative through CREBACO to educate and reduce the scams making Blockchain and Bitcoin industry a better space. Our agenda is to use the evolution of technology and change the way we live. And soon enough, you will see the difference in coming years when you start paying for many things using cryptocurrencies.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, we are working on several projects which includes Price Prediction using AI and ML in the portfolio company. In CREBACO, we are working on a Blockchain of Blockchain (BoB) project which is going to archive all the data related to the new upcoming projects as well as the existing ones. This is needed because many projects change their details without notifying the investors. The BoB project will make sure the committed information is stored in a decentralised open ledger which can be used by investors to verify information and make a decision better. We should roll it out in mid-2020. CREBACO is also focusing on education and a different team is being set up specifically for it. Blockchain and Crypto have a lot of misunderstandings and only education can fix it. We are in the process of joining hands with several colleges and universities to conduct programs on blockchain based education.

Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. According to this report in Fortune, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. In your opinion or experience what is the cause of these unfortunate numbers?

Well I think there are few reasons to it. Some people trust easily! They would trust the bank or the financial advisor and believe what they are doing is right. This gives power to the financial advisor or bank to manipulate. I mean trusting is good, but be a little more attentive to what is happening with your money, It centralized. For that there must be basic financial knowledge. The Financial Literacy is poor because people don’t give enough attention to learn about personal wealth management. I also think that the terms and conditions given by banks and financial institutions should be made more simpler to understand for the consumer so that anyone with basic or no knowledge is not intimidated by them.

If you had the power to make a change, what 3 things would you recommend to improve these numbers?

1.Introduce additional curriculums in schools/institutes to ensure basic financial literacy.

2.Calculators are introduced at a very early age, I think calculators reduce the mental capability that doesn’t let the mind do what it does the best — Think! One should be independent in thinking at initial levels. This would definitely improve their calculation skills and consequently financial thinking.

3.A ‘Financial Evaluation Reporting’ statement must be introduced, where the individual reports have financial standing. It must be made personally every year but not by tax consultants. This should be basic and just a one-page document. I think this initiative will instigate people to evaluate their financial standing better and the numbers should improve.

Ok, thank you! Now to the main question of our interview: You are a “finance insider” and an expert in cryptocurrencies. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive essentials for smart Investing in cryptocurrencies and blockchain projects what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each.

Crypto markets and Blockchain technology are at the same stage where the internet era was at the start of 1990s. The difference is that today we have internet, and then we didn’t! The crypto industry is unregulated to a certain extent and many are not educated about how it works and because of herd mentality, they lose their investments. Let me share 5 tips, which can make a difference in your crypto investments (majorly Bitcoin) and avoid the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

1. To understand how Bitcoin works you must invest in what you understand. 
Learning about bitcoin is no rocket science. You can read about it online and understand the basics. It is important for you to understand and believe in the technology. After you understand the tech and idea behind it, also read the negative news related to Bitcoin as I think cons are more important to understand than the Pros. This will help you understand the nitty gritty better and you would be able to make more viable decisions. I would also advise you to keep your investments in your own control by using hardware wallets. You must understand that it’s your Bitcoin only if you have the private keys, if you don’t have it, it’s not your money. If the exchange crashes or gets hacked, you may lose your investment.

2. Make sure 90% of your Investment is in just Bitcoin.

There are several reasons to it, few of them are:

-Bitcoin market cap dominance is 65% and above. That’s 200Bn dollar out of the entire crypto market size of 280Billion as on 20th Aug 2019. This means the volume and maximum price action is in Bitcoin.

-Bitcoin is 10 years old, other cryptos or alt coins are relatively very new.

-Bitcoin is truly decentralised and has the oldest and biggest blockchain available on the planet in terms of Nodes and time.

-Majority of the institutional investment is in Bitcoin and not in other alt coins -Other alt coins require a lot of research and are easy to manipulate.

3. Don’t do intraday trading or margin trading as Bitcoin is unstable and can be very volatile, in fact it is one of the most volatile assets class available today. In such a scenario, it is stupid to get into intraday trading or doing leverage trading. It’s very risky. Most who do this run computer algorithms and bots to deal with the volatility. 
4. Just invest what you can afford to lose. We have clients who invested at 20k and the market crashed to 5k, Now the market is at 11k but they don’t want to book a loss. It’s always advisable to invest what you can afford to lose. In the long run its definitely going to go up and can reach 25 to 30k as well, but it can see volatility again, in that case don’t book losses and hold on to the investment. Imagine you are taking an insurance for the entire investment portfolio, because as per CREBACO’s research data, we may see an economic slowdown soon, and when that happens your entire portfolio will fall but Bitcoin is inversely related to the stock markets and geo political situations. It is similar to Gold.

5. Do not invest in ICOs, IEOs and STOs even if your best friend tells you to!

ICOs, IEOs and STOs require a lot of research and analysis and are highly risky. ICOs are unregulated and 95% of the ICOs in 2018–2019 were scams or never took off. It must be understood clearly that ICOs are NOT BITCOIN! Its similar technology (using smart contracts majorly on the Ethereum Blockchain) but privately managed and highly speculative as the control of the tokens are with the management of the company in most cases unlike Bitcoin which is Decentralized.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

That would be my father, he has always given me the free hand to try new things. I belong to a traditional business family which deals in textiles, shifting the career to FinTech was a great move and it was encouraged by my father. Especially, when it’s something so controversial as Bitcoin. When I started portfolio management services for assets like Bitcoin, He asked “do you think what you are doing is right? If yes, then go ahead and try it”.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My father always says ‘No Guts, No Glory!’ and that’s what makes me try new things in life and has made several achievements possible. 
It has been relevant at several places including investment in Bitcoin in spite of so much negativity in the news.

I also like the quote by Robert Frost, ‘Two roads diverged in the wood, and I took the one less travelled by. And that has made all the difference’

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would say regulation and adoption of Bitcoin. Not other cryptocurrencies, but Bitcoin, because it is the oldest and the biggest blockchain on the planet right now. There are about 1.3 Billion people on the planet who are unbanked, who don’t have access to basic banking facilities. Bitcoin can solve the problem as it can be accessed through a very basic android phone as well which is available for less than 50$. Just imagine, basic financial freedom to 1.3 Billion people, what better can we do?

If you live in a village amidst the jungles of Africa, I don’t expect you to have a passport, IRS number or Social Security number which is a necessary requirement for opening a bank account. Does that mean that the people who don’t have these documents cannot access banking? Isn’t banking an equal right? Unfortunately, ‘No’. The traditional banking and financial system discriminate based on documentary evidences. But Bitcoin doesn’t. Just a wallet download and you are good to go. A man from the deepest regions of Africa is able to send or receive money from anyone in the world in a matter of few minutes; he can enjoy the basic privilege to be a part of the global financial system, directly, no middlemen involved!

The governments were unable to do it since centuries but this 10-year-old technology can, and is already making a difference. Of course, the banks and regulatory bodies will oppose it as it is ‘decentralized’, ‘borderless’ and ‘transparent’, but its definitely better than ‘banking charges’, ‘inflation’, ‘manipulation’ ‘centralized control’ etc of banks. We need a global payment system for a global economy, without that how can an economy be truly global!

Thank you for the interview. We wish you continued success!

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