CogniCor’s Cherian Gives Views On Career Success And Inclusivity From The Perspective Of An Immigrant Who Has Worked On Three Continents
One of the most rewarding aspects of WSR’s Pathfinder Awards is sharing our platform with industry leaders from underrepresented backgrounds who can speak to DEI issues from their personal experience. In some instances, the executive possesses a deeper level of experience from which to advise our industry on how to improve for underrepresented communities.
Rosh Cherian, Co-Founder and CTO of CogniCor, and our Top AAPI Industry Leaders of 2023 – AAPI Innovator of the Year, immigrated to the United States after years working at various places in Asia and Europe, including Barcelona, where he originally founded CogniCor. Cherian gives us his unique perspective as a person of AAPI heritage, an immigrant and a professional who has worked on three continents.
In addition, he shares his insights on artificial intelligence as a leader at the forefront of AI in wealthtech.
WSR: You have a perspective as both an Asian American and an immigrant to the U.S. What advice would you give to an immigrant who wants to rise to the top in wealth management?
Cherian: I never imagined my immigrant journey would include founding and managing an AI and wealthtech company. But frankly, it would be surprising if anyone did have this specific dream. I studied biomedical and computer engineering and worked in Asia and Europe for 15 years before moving to the United States in 2017.
Working on three different continents, I gained a broad perspective that allows me to identify issues and opportunities outside mainstream thinking. This has opened many doors as the wealth management industry continues to embrace and incorporate DEI initiatives.
I also have learned the value of patience, perseverance and community. Wealthtech can be very complex and difficult to grasp initially, but there are plenty of experienced professionals who can become mentors. You just have to ask. Learning to network with financial advisors and business leaders, attending conferences and trade shows and reading industry publications helped me stay focused as I started in this space – it was key to building confidence and credibility among key industry participants.
WSR: What should the wealth management industry do to be more inclusive of immigrants?
Cherian: Our industry could do more to be inclusive and accessible to the immigrant community. From a client perspective, wealth management industry products could be made easier for immigrants to understand by using simplified language that is devoid of jargon and insider terminology.
In addition, we need a more diverse financial advisor community to represent all backgrounds and ethnicities. I’ve learned from personal experience that advisors who take time to understand how different cultures prioritize goals have an advantage over those who see all clients as the same.
I understand this may be easier said than done. Advisors might be overwhelmed with technology and operational inefficiencies, leaving them little time to do the work they want to do, which is providing financial planning services to clients.
This is where technology can be of service, either by matching clients to advisors or providing self-service capabilities in multiple languages. The industry also can enhance its diversity by creating internship opportunities for recent college graduates with immigrant backgrounds.
WSR: As an AI pioneer, what do you see for the future of AI in wealth management?
Cherian: At CogniCor, we believe “AI will not replace our jobs, but the person using AI will.” Financial advisors now face remarkably higher demand for engagement due to the volatility in investment portfolio performance, while so many advisors are preparing to leave the industry due to demographic realities. This is happening while attempting to help advisors prepare for the Great Wealth Transfer from baby boomers to younger generations.
There is a lack of qualified back-office staff to support this surge in demand, further exacerbated by higher operating costs. Wealth management is set for nothing short of a fundamental rethinking and reorganization of its operational realities.
The latest technological advancements in AI, such as large language models and knowledge graphs, couldn’t have come at a more opportune moment for an overburdened and dated wealth management industry – and could change the game if applied strategically and with the proper support.
I am optimistic that AI will be able to optimize cost as well as elevate customer and advisor experience. It can take away the repetitive and mundane tasks both for the advisor and the client and usher in an instant, transparent and ubiquitous wealth experience, like Uber and Amazon did for the consumer space. Already we are seeing huge interest not only from large broker-dealers and RIAs but surprisingly, also from small wealth firms seeking to understand how to incorporate AI into their operational flows and customer touch points.
James Miller, Contributing Editor and Research Analyst at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at ContributingEd@wealthsolutionsreport.com.