WSR Honors Leading Wealth Management Executives for AAPI Heritage Month as Third Group of Pathfinder Awards Winners
WSR continues its commitment to diversity and inclusion in the wealth management industry by honoring AAPI Heritage Month with a third installment of the WSR Pathfinder Awards – a series of invitation-only awards honoring prominent senior executives of minority and underrepresented backgrounds.
Regular readers will recall that previous Pathfinder Awards honored outstanding black and women executives in wealth management during Black History Month and Women’s History Month.
This month our editorial staff once again reviewed distinguished industry executives covering a wide range of professions to arrive at a small group of exceptional leaders with a strong reputation in wealth management, many years of experience dedicated to our industry, an outsized impact on the people around them both professionally and personally and the ability to serve as role models for others considering a career in wealth management.
As with prior Pathfinder Awards, we leveraged this occasion to amplify voices that encourage greater diversity and inclusion, in order to spark conversation in the office, on calls, at conferences, and through other informal settings to catalyze change in our industry.
The winners are in no particular order and all equally deserving. Please congratulate them with us.
- AAPI Wealth Management Platform Executive of the Year
With almost two decades of experience in the wealth management industry, Wei joined Advisor Group in 2018, leading both the advisory consulting team that supports the firm’s wealth management platform and the sales efforts for new platforms and investment solutions.
“One thing I love about our industry and being at Advisor Group is how fast-paced everything is. There are constant opportunities to evolve an incredibly wide range of skills and expertise,” said Wei.
Wei’s previous roles in sales, marketing, due diligence, investment banking, and research prepared him for his current duties. This includes four years at LPL Financial promoting the company’s product and advisory solutions, as well as roles at First Allied Securities, Dunham & Associates, and SEI Investments.
For those considering career choices, Wei states, “I’d advise anyone who enjoys being in a multi-faceted environment to consider wealth management. And remember, there are so many ways to enter the profession and thrive within it.”
Speaking on AAPI representation in the industry, Wei said, “It’s been really wonderful to see the industry evolve over time to include more diversity, not only in the general employee population but also in corporate leadership roles and in the financial advisor base we serve.”
- AAPI RIA Leader of the Year
Prior to joining Evoke Advisors in 2019, Hou held roles in various organizations including the private client group of Goldman, Sachs & Co., on the committee of the private investments platform at First Republic Bank, and founding and managing Luminous Capital.
In his civic and charity service, Hou serves as an advisory board member of the UCLA Anderson School Fink Center for Finance and Investments, as a trustee and chair of the Finance Committee at Carlthorp School in Santa Monica, California, and actively supports Thrive Scholars, which funds and supports inner-city college-bound youth.
- AAPI Innovator of the Year
An early investor in Facet Wealth, Joshi has served on its Advisory Board for five years, and as the COO for the past year. In addition to her role at Facet Wealth, Joshi founded community-based content curation service Compell’d in 2018 and continues to serve as its CEO.
With over 20 years of experience, Joshi has invested in and advised firms on client acquisition and retention strategy and client experience development. Prior to Facet Wealth, Joshi was an equity partner at Altman Vilandrie & Company, now Altman Solon, and an executive at Verizon.
Joshi advises the industry to take a proactive approach to increase AAPI representation, reaching out to people who may not have considered a career in wealth management.
Facet Wealth sponsors “scholarships for minorities who want to become CFP professionals and mentor[s] them,” Joshi notes. “We also have numerous partnerships in place to facilitate more diverse representation in the industry.”
- AAPI Retirement Plan Consultant of the Year
With thirty years of experience in wealth management consulting for corporate and non-profit clients, Lum helms the Hawaii office of SageView Advisory and serves on the firm’s national Investment Committee as well as its Asset Allocation and Asset-Liability Subcommittees.
Lum received recognition from the Financial Times in 2018, 2019 and 2020 among America’s top retirement advisors in the large defined contribution plan space.
Prior to joining SageView in 2015, Lum served as a Vice President at the Bank of Hawaii.
As part of his charity activities, Lum serves on the board and previously served as president of Hawaii Children’s Cancer Foundation.
- AAPI Asset Management Leader of the Year
Under his leadership, the firm served the greatest number of advisors and investors in its history and achieved record financial results.
As part of his role, Kim oversees the firm’s Client Success Group, which serves to deepen its engagement with advisors, improve their businesses and enhance their client experiences through sales strategy, distribution, marketing, consulting, client segmentation, and the development of new channels.
Prior to AssetMark, Kim worked at Transamerica, Coopers & Lybrand, and Fidelity Investments, where he led sales, relationship management, and practice management.
- AAPI COO of the Year
Before tru Independence, Dogra served as CXO of Sanctuary Wealth, helping the firm grow from $2 billion in assets under management to $15 billion. Prior to Sanctuary, he was CEO of wealthtech firm Third Seven Advisors and the Head of Relationship Management and Practice Management of Hightower Advisors.
Outside of the office, Dogra is a dedicated father and enjoys the beach, skiing, and the outdoors.
According to Dogra, one step the industry can take to increase AAPI representation is “to acknowledge AAPI leaders within the wealth management industry, as it sometimes feels like a forgotten segment. Everyone likes to feel recognized and appreciated, so calling out all the great contributions and accomplishments is a terrific step.”
- Co-Winner, AAPI General Counsel of the Year
Approaching ten years in Cetera’s legal team, Gok rose to General Counsel in 2020, leading a team of lawyers and legal professionals providing internal counsel on corporate legal matters, managing litigation, and addressing regulatory enforcement across the enterprise.
Gok’s prior experiences honed her for her current role, having served with both the Justice Department as an assistant United States attorney in the District of Columbia where she tried over 20 jury trials, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Chief Compliance Officer of Transamerica, and as counsel for Green Dot Corporation during its IPO.
- Co-Winner, AAPI General Counsel of the Year
Ho joined Commonwealth a year ago, bringing new resources and skills to her team that oversees legal, regulatory, and anti-money laundering functions while improving the efficiency and focus of her team through upgraded metrics and processes.
Prior to Commonwealth, Ho served in government relations, legal, compliance, and risk at LPL Financial, and before that practiced law at Ropes & Gray LLP.
In the office, Ho advocates for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and at home, she spends time with her family and engages in various hobbies including baking, reading, and cooking.
- AAPI Financial Advisor of the Year
With over six years of experience as the Managing Partner of SageMint Wealth, with $340 million in assets and six professionals, and over nine years as a Partner in Modern Wealth Law, Tran serves both as a financial advisor and an estate planning attorney, giving her greater flexibility advising clients on creating and preserving generational wealth.
SageMint, which affiliates with LPL Financial, is “passionate about building meaningful, long-term relationships with our clients to ensure that their values and dreams align with their financial plan,” says Tran. “We strive to give our clients the ability to celebrate life, expand their horizons and accumulate experiences.”
Since affiliating with LPL in 2016, SageMint’s assets grew by 80%. “LPL Financial has been an incredible partner to us and has been instrumental to our growth and success over the years,” Tran said.
Previously, Tran worked at Goldman Sachs Acyo Personal Financial Management as Vice President of Financial Counseling, advising high net worth clients and Fortune 500 executives.
Tran serves her community in many ways, including on the board of Impact Giving, a women’s collective giving group, and on the University of California, Irvine Undergraduate Student Success board.
To further diversity and inclusion, Tran serves on LPL’s Advisor Inclusion Council and Asian and Women Business Communities. LPL’s Asian Business Community aims to attract more financial advisors of AAPI heritage, help them grow their business, and create opportunities for them to share and connect.
For a person of AAPI heritage considering a career in financial advice, Tran recommends finding a mentor who understands their strengths and weaknesses, helps them navigate the industry, and shares personal successes and failures as learning tools. “They can also introduce you to their network and other business professionals to help expand your circle of influence.”
Tran also recommends continuous learning: “It’s so important to continue to educate ourselves on current financial planning topics, investing, the ever-changing tax world, and our own personal growth and development.”
- AAPI Fintech Leader of the Year
Almost a decade ago, Yenamandra leveraged his background in cyber risk, including work on an NSA-funded program, to found Entreda, centered on the idea of a unified and robust platform that could provide excellent cybersecurity protection to even the smallest advisory firm, which has grown to serve over 300 firms including seven of the top 15 independent broker-dealers.
Entreda was acquired by Smarsh in 2020 and stayed under Yenamandra’s purview as CEO.
- AAPI Investment Banker of the Year
Hagopian joined Berkshire Global Advisors after graduating from Harvard, and with 19 years of experience now under her belt, she has held multiple leadership roles, past and present, including leading the firm’s London office for three years, founding the San Francisco office, and currently heading the San Francisco office while co-leading Berkshire’s Wealth Management practice.
Hagopian led the execution of 13 of the firm’s 42 announced transactions last year and led its Wealth Management practice on 11 strategic sales, four minority investments, and representing the buyer in one acquisition.
- AAPI Portfolio Manager of the Year
“Since launch in 2019, our assets under management have grown to more than $11 billion, with over $5 billion in net inflows last year and already more than $3 billion in net inflows so far this year,” Ong said.
Prior to Avantis, he served as a Senior Portfolio Manager and Vice President at Dimensional Fund Advisors managing the emerging markets equity strategies and leading the emerging markets equity desk.
Prior to Dimensional Fund Advisors, Ong served as an account manager at Metropolitan West Asset Management and a structure analyst at Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO).
According to Ong, Avantis stands out in three key areas: combining indexing with active management, low fees, in some instances lower than competing index-based strategies, and a team structure that prioritizes spending time with advisors.
“We really believe it is important to spend time with advisors and be as transparent as possible as they conduct their due diligence,” said Ong. “At the end of the day, they are the portfolio manager for their client, so we want them to be confident in what we are doing.”
On a personal note, Ong tells us that his “path to portfolio manager started by participating in a simulated stock-picking contest in middle school. Obviously, there are many different paths, but I’m a believer that once a person develops a passion for a profession, then the other helpful aspects such as a desire to learn more, competitive drive, and dedication come naturally.”
Ong advises others of AAPI heritage who are considering a career in portfolio management to meet with portfolio managers. “Fellow AAPIs in the industry are often generous with their time and will share their experiences after they hear your situation. After all, many of us were in the same shoes facing similar early career challenges and decisions.”
- AAPI Research Analyst of the Year
Lau says that “my sector is just exciting. I cover financial technology companies, including exchanges, information analytics, and digital asset sectors, which means I sit at the intersection of emerging technologies, new asset classes, and changing regulations.”
“I am passionate about helping people make the best decisions possible for the long term,” said Lau.
Outside the office, Lau lectures as an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University for master-degree level finance courses.
Prior to Oppenheimer, Lau worked with Janney Montgomery Scott researching banks, credit card issuers, student loan lenders, and specialty finance companies.
In 2021, TipRanks named Lau 14th among its Top Performing Analyst group.
Lau notes that successful equity researchers need strengths in “fundamental analysis, communications skills and the ability to present compelling ideas under pressure.”
“I would highly suggest that the AAPI community consider an opportunity in equity research if they believe they have these strengths or aim to develop them. More importantly, I would advise all members of our community to continue to network, do the work and believe in themselves regardless of where they are on their career journey.”
On the topic of improving AAPI representation, Lau states that equity research doesn’t hire on structured recruitment cycles like many other investment banking divisions. “This means equity research departments often don’t have the opportunity to plan and scope out overarching diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.”
Lau points out one important step in increasing diversity: “[B]uild a strong bridge between interested college candidates and capital markets businesses.”
- AAPI Portfolio Solutions Provider of the Year
Li founded Advyzon in 2012 as an effort to create a true all-in-one platform for financial advisors, after leading various projects in his 16 years at Morningstar, including seven years as Product Manager for Morningstar Office.
Advyzon has enjoyed tremendous recent success, growing 40% in the past year with a 95% retention rate, as the company’s advisory firm clients grew from slightly over 500 in 2019 to 1,100 at present.
In addition to his MBA, Li holds a Ph.D. in Physics from State University of New York at Stony Brook.
When not leading Advyzon, Li enjoys reading, music, hiking, and ping pong.
- AAPI Compliance Expert of the Year
With almost four years at ComplySci, Kadomatsu took the reins as CEO in October 2020, leading the firm through a rapid series of acquisitions of RIA in a Box, illumis, and National Regulatory Services, almost quadrupling the firm from 84 to over 300 employees.
Outside the office, Kadomatsu has served MOUSE.org, a computer science, and STEM educational organization, for nine years, and currently serves as Board Chair and Mentor.
- AAPI CFO of the Year
With two years as CFO of Hightower and over two decades of experience in financial and operational leadership, Watanapongse previously served as President and CFO of Intelligent Medical Objects, where he focused on excellent customer service and collaboration across company functions.
Prior to Intelligent Medical Objects, Watanapongse served in roles at Fortune 500, consultancy, and private equity-backed enterprises such as Sotera Health, SPX, Bosch, Sears Holdings, Deloitte, and Arthur Andersen.
Janeesa Hollingshead, Executive Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at email@example.com