Pathfinder Winner Sasi On Improving Industry For Persons Of AAPI Heritage

Janeesa Hollingshead, Contributing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

Manhattan West’s Chief Strategy Officer Shares Steps For The Industry To Improve And Persons Of AAPI Heritage To Reach The C-suite, Plus Strategies For Wealth Management Firms

As with all Pathfinder Awards, this month we talk with several winners among the Top AAPI Industry Leaders of 2023 to bring the voices of industry executives from underrepresented backgrounds to the fore so that our industry may listen and improve. Often, we also ask them for strategic insights from their field of expertise as well. Vik Sasi has both to share.

Sasi, the Chief Strategy Officer at Manhattan West, winner of the Pathfinder Award for AAPI Family Office Leader of the Year, relates steps for our industry to improve with regards to persons of AAPI heritage and how persons of AAPI heritage can aim for the C-suite in wealth management.

He also explains top strategies that wealth management firms should implement that are often overlooked.

WSR: What strategies should wealth management firms be implementing now that are generally overlooked?

Vik Sasi, Chief Strategy Officer, Manhattan West

Sasi: Personalized, Goal-Based Planning: This approach involves understanding the unique needs and objectives of each client and designing a customized investment plan to help them achieve their goals.

Behavioral Finance: Incorporating behavioral finance principles into the investment process can help clients better understand their own biases and make more rational investment decisions. For example, firms can use risk profiling tools and investment simulations to help clients better understand the potential risks and returns associated with investment options.

Technology: Leverage technology to better serve clients, reduce costs and increase efficiency. For example, firms can use machine learning algorithms to analyze market data and make more informed investment decisions. They also can use chatbots and other AI-powered tools to provide clients with faster and more convenient service.

Use AI-powered tools

ESG Investing: Values-aligned investing is becoming popular. Firms can differentiate themselves by offering more ESG investment options and helping clients understand the potential risks and returns associated with these investments.

Alternative Investments: Offering clients access to alts, such as private equity, hedge funds, venture capital and real estate can provide clients with higher potential returns and diversification benefits, but they also come with higher risks and fees. Firms can differentiate themselves by providing clients with access to high-quality alternative investment options and by offering transparent and competitive fee structures.

WSR: How is our industry doing with regards to persons of AAPI heritage, and how can we do better?

Sasi: The wealth management industry has traditionally been known for its lack of diversity, including persons of AAPI heritage. This underrepresentation is a challenge for the industry, as it limits the perspectives and experiences that can be critical to investment decision-making and client service.

To do better, wealth management firms can take several steps:

  • Prioritize recruitment efforts for candidates from diverse backgrounds through targeted outreach, partnerships with diversity-focused organizations and expanding the pipeline by offering internships and other development programs.
  • Create inclusive work environments by promoting diversity and inclusion as a core value, instituting employee training on unconscious bias and ensuring that all employees feel valued and supported.
  • Offer mentorship and sponsorship opportunities for employees from diverse backgrounds. This can help develop their skills and advance their careers.
  • Expand investment strategies to include a wider range of perspectives and approaches. This can include investing in AAPI-owned businesses or investing in companies that have diverse leadership teams.
  • Address cultural differences that may impact the investment decisions of their AAPI clients. For example, AAPI clients may have different attitudes toward risk or may prefer investing in their home countries.

Increasing diversity in the wealth management industry, including for persons of AAPI heritage, can help firms better serve their clients and make more informed investment decisions.

WSR: What advice would you give to a person of AAPI heritage who wants to reach the C-suite in wealth management?

Take on leadership roles

Sasi: To advance to the C-suite in wealth management, it is important to build a strong foundation of skills and expertise in the field. This may involve pursuing advanced education, such as an MBA or CFA designation, and gaining experience in different areas of wealth management.

Building a strong network of contacts in the industry is key to advancing any career. This could involve attending industry conferences, joining professional organizations and networking with colleagues and mentors.

Having a mentor who has already achieved success in the industry can provide valuable guidance and support as you work to advance your career. Look for someone who shares your values and goals, and who can help you navigate the challenges of the industry.

Look for opportunities to take on leadership roles within your organization or industry. This may involve volunteering for committees or task forces, taking on management responsibilities or leading projects.

Advancing to the C-suite in any industry is a challenging and competitive process. It’s important to be persistent in pursuing your goals and to be resilient in the face of setbacks or obstacles.

As a person of AAPI heritage, you have a unique perspective that can bring value to the industry. Be an advocate for diversity and inclusion in your organization and in the industry. This can help create a more inclusive culture that benefits everyone.

Janeesa Hollingshead, Contributing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at

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