WSR Pathfinder Awards – Top AAPI Industry Leaders Of 2024

WSR Recognizes Third Annual AAPI Heritage Month By Naming Leading Executives And Professionals As Winners Of Pathfinder Awards For Top AAPI Industry Leaders Of 2024
Chris Latham, Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report
Chris Latham, Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

WSR continues our invitation-only Pathfinder Awards this month by honoring leading executives and professionals of AAPI heritage, as the Top AAPI Industry Leaders of 2024, in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This month’s awards are the third installment of Pathfinder Awards for the year and the third annual installment coinciding with AAPI Heritage Month.

As with the Top Black Industry Leaders of 2024 and Top Women Industry Leaders of 2024, we examined potential candidates across the wealth management industry, searching for outstanding individuals based on their ability to serve as role models, their influence and reputation within the industry, their accomplishments and track record, as well as their dedication to the industry.

Furthermore, in addition to highlighting an industry association representing the AAPI community, WSR also is publishing three profile interviews alongside today’s announcement of winners, featuring George Oka, Viraj B. Patel and Helen Yang.

Please join us in congratulating the winners, who are listed in alphabetical order:

Organization Of The Year:
The Association Of Asian American Investment Managers

Jim Park, CEO, AAAIM
Jim Park, CEO, AAAIM

The Association of Asian American Investment Managers (AAAIM) is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion in the investment management industry. Its goal is to elevate underrepresented groups through education, networking and empowerment. AAAIM helps emerging managers gain access to capital and provide mentorship support for young professionals through its Emerging Leaders Initiative.

The organization has chapters in Boston, New York, Chicago, Northern California and Southern California. Its network of investment managers handle over $1 trillion in assets under management (AUM). Various tiers of individual and corporate membership levels are available for qualified applicants.

AAAIM was co-founded in 2006 by Ginger Lew, CEO of Three Oaks Investments, and Maeley Tom, the former President of the California State Personnel Board. Its CEO, Jim Park, has founded and served as CEO of companies including the Mortgage Collaborative and New Vista Asset Management.

In April, AAAIM released its inaugural study on the state of AAPI representation in venture capital. The organization will hold its annual event, AAAIM ELEVATE 2024, from Oct. 8-10 at the Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles.

CEO Of The Year:
Sindhu Joseph, Founder And CEO, CogniCor Technologies

Sindhu Joseph, CEO & Co-Founder, CogniCor
Sindhu Joseph, Founder and CEO, CogniCor Technologies

Sindhu Joseph earned a Ph.D. in artificial intelligence from Spanish Artificial Intelligence Research Institute and holds six U.S. patents in AI. Her academic work led to the 2018 founding of Palo Alto-based CogniCor Technologies, a Morgan Stanley-backed provider of artificial intelligence assistant and business automation platforms for broker-dealers, RIAs, wealth management firms and insurance providers.

The firm uses AI solutions to accelerate productivity, enhance efficiency and drive growth for highly regulated industries. Since founding CogniCor, Joseph has spearheaded the development of a wide range of AI-enabled digital assistants that drive efficiencies, reduce errors and enable scale across a range of wealth management firms.

For example, CogniCor’s Meeting Assistant is designed to empower advisors to maximize the benefits of meetings by automating preparation, scheduling and follow-up. In January, the company enhanced its AI-enabled digital assistants with the integration of Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service.

Joseph and her firm have worked on dozens of enterprise-level applications of AI technologies. This includes a smoother application of tools available in the wake of significant advancements made in real language processing, LLMs, machine learning and other critical AI technology.

Planning Executive Of The Year:
Bini Lee, Head Of Planning & Advice, Facet

Bini Lee, Head of Planning & Advice, Facet
Bini Lee, Head of Planning & Advice, Facet

Bini Lee has over 14 years of experience in the financial services industry. This includes working in insurance, a traditional RIA, and another fintech startup as a financial planner and leader. Bini Lee joined Facet in 2019. Her past roles there encompass Planning Team Leader, Director of Planning and Head of Planning Logistics. She became Head of Planning in April 2023.

Facet provides client members with up-to-date access to financial data and direct access to financial experts across investments, taxes, benefits and more. The company charges members a flat fee tailored to their needs, instead of tied to their investments, and no commissions or product sales.

Prior to Facet, Bini Lee was a Senior Financial Planner at Grove, which was acquired by Wealthfront. Before that, she was a financial advisor at Private Ocean Wealth Management, which was acquired by Wealthspire Advisors.

Bini Lee strongly believes that financial advice and implementing a plan for the future can be life-changing for clients. Her favorite part about planning is taking clients through the human side of bringing their dreams to life and helping them reach “a-ha moments.”

Research Executive Of The Year:
Johann Lee, Director Of Research/Principal, AlphaCore Wealth Advisory

Johann Lee, Director of Research/Principal, AlphaCore Wealth Advisory
Johann Lee, Director of Research/Principal, AlphaCore Wealth Advisory

Johann Lee joined AlphaCore in 2017 as a Research Analyst and became Director of Research in 2020. He has played a strategic role in the development of the firm’s investment platform and research team. Johann Lee has enhanced AlphaCore’s capabilities in investment due diligence, embracing structures such as liquid alternatives and direct indexing.

He oversees the investment committee, while leading a collaborative effort across the firm in crafting quarterly commentaries, research memos, webinar content and educational content.

Johann Lee’s responsibilities span hedge funds, alts and traditional strategies. Guiding the research team, he conducts analysis and due diligence across asset classes to identify potential investment opportunities.

Johann Lee also contributes to driving organic growth, fostering client relationships, attracting top talent and empowering the business development team to leverage AlphaCore’s research skillset during the sales process with referral partners.

He collaborates with portfolio managers to develop and execute investment strategies aligned with AlphaCore’s objectives and tailored to meet the specific needs of its clients. Integrating the research team into advisory functions has resulted in asset growth for the firm. Johann Lee has also contributed his guidance to AlphaCore’s prospecting events, which help to underscore the firm’s commitment to client education.

Strategy Executive Of The Year:
George Oka, Head Of Strategic Initiatives, Park Avenue Securities

George Oka, Head of Strategic Initiatives, Park Avenue Securities
George Oka, Head of Strategic Initiatives, Park Avenue Securities

George Oka is a senior corporate development executive in the wealth management industry with a significant investment banking background and leadership experience. As the Head of Strategic Initiatives at Park Avenue Securities, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Guardian Life, he focuses on the development, analysis and execution of major strategic initiatives that drive transformational growth.

Oka previously served as Senior Vice President and Head of Corporate Development at Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services, which culminated in leading the internal effort of the company’s successful public sale for $1.3 billion. In 2020, Ladenburg merged with Advisor Group, which rebranded as Osaic in 2023.

Prior to that role, Oka was a Senior Vice President at Jefferies Finance, where he led the structuring, origination and execution of leveraged loan transactions. In this position, he completed 25 transactions representing over $25 billion of bank and bond financings for leveraged buyouts and refinancings.

He also previously served as Vice President in the Financial Institutions Group at Jefferies, where he completed over 120 transactions representing approximately $40 billion of M&A and capital raising transactions across multiple financial sectors, including broker-dealers, specialty finance and diversified holding companies.

Custodian Executive Of The Year:
Hardik Patel, Head Of Technology, TradePMR

Hardik Patel, Head of Technology, TradePMR
Hardik Patel, Head of Technology, TradePMR

As Head of Technology for TradePMR, a provider of technology tools and custodial support for independent RIAs, Hardik Patel leads the team responsible for developing TradePMR’s top-rated Fusion technology and oversees the firm’s architecture, infrastructure, security and technology operations.

He works closely with the TradePMR’s product team, driving transformative change guided by the firm’s roadmap. The 2024 T3 Inside Information Software Survey highlighted TradePMR as a leading firm in the custodial platforms category and for strong user ratings in the online portfolio management category. TradePMR has more than 30 integrations with other software providers.

Hardik Patel joined TradePMR in 2017 with more than 15 years of experience in technology roles at financial services organizations, including JP Morgan Chase, KPMG, Prudential Financial and Thomson Reuters. He also is an entrepreneur and owns several businesses with his family across North and Central Florida.

Asset Management Executive Of The Year:
Viraj B. Patel, Executive Vice President And Head Of Asset Allocation, Fiduciary Trust International

Viraj B. Patel, Managing Director and Head of Asset Allocation, Fiduciary Trust International
Viraj B. Patel, Executive Vice President and Head of Asset Allocation, Fiduciary Trust International

Viraj B. Patel, Executive Vice President and Head of Asset Allocation at Fiduciary Trust International (FTI), is responsible for leading the firm’s cross asset research and strategy across asset classes and investment segments for high net worth and institutional investors.

He is Co-Chairman of the firm’s Asset Allocation Committee, and is a member of its Management Committee, Operating Committee and Risk Management Committee. He also manages the firm’s investment associates. FTI had over $102 billion in assets under management and administration as of March 31.

Prior to joining FTI, from 2004 to 2013 Viraj B. Patel was a portfolio strategist at the Northern Trust, where he provided custom investment strategies and portfolio solutions for high net worth and institutional investors.

He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Financial Risk Manager (FRM) and Chartered Alternative Investments Analyst (CAIA) designations. Viraj B. Patel also is a member of the CFA Institute, the CFA Society New York, Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) and Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association.

Operations Executive Of The Year:
Angie Seenauth, Senior Vice President, Operations, CION Investments

Angie Seenauth, Senior Vice President, Operations, CION Investments
Angie Seenauth, Senior Vice President, Operations, CION Investments

Angie Seenauth, Senior Vice President, Operations at CION Investments, oversees all aspects of the firm’s broker-dealer operations for alternatives funds distribution.

Seenauth’s principal responsibility consists of back-office daily operations for CION Investment Corporation, a publicly listed business development company that manages approximately $2 billion in assets, and the CION Ares Diversified Credit Fund, a globally diversified interval fund that manages approximately $5 billion in assets.

She has been instrumental in developing and maintaining CION’s data programs utilizing Salesforce CRM and other technologies. Throughout Seenauth’s tenure, she has played a meaningful role in building CION’s external partnerships, in addition to mentoring the sales team and helping to grow their skill sets.

She joined CION in 2008 with a background in hospitality, which helped in her initial role as a relationship manager for CION’s direct participation programs. Her extensive experience in technology and marketing led to an expanded role as CION’s distribution platform evolved and new products were launched.

Financial Advisor Of The Year:
Pratik Shah, Financial Advisor, The Great Lakes Agency, Prudential Advisors

Pratik Shah, Financial Advisor, The Great Lakes Agency, Prudential Advisors
Pratik Shah, Financial Advisor, The Great Lakes Financial Group, Prudential Advisors

Pratik Shah, a Financial Advisor at The Great Lakes Financial Group of Prudential Advisors, began his career at the Prudential Insurance Company of America in 1991. His accolades include Rookie of the Year, the President’s Citation, National Sales Achievement, National Quality Awards, a Top of the Table Qualifying and Life Member of the Million Dollar Round Table, and a Prudential Chairman’s Leaders Council member.

Pratik’s engagement with the Asian community in the U.S., particularly the Indian and Filipino communities, underscores his commitment to diversity and inclusion. Specializing in meeting the financial needs of Indian physicians, Pratik’s focus on disability and estate planning has driven significant growth. He also is active in Prudential’s Field Advisory Committee, as Vice Chair of Diversity and Chair for Private Offices.

He resides in Novi, Michigan, with his wife, Sangeen, and their two children, Alina and Avi. In 2016, following the tragic loss of their son, Pratik and his wife founded the Abhi Shah Foundation, dedicated to supporting foster children and victims of human trafficking. This nonprofit venture reflects their commitment to transforming personal loss into community advocacy and support.

President Of The Year:
Kartik Srinivasan, President, Advyzon Institutional

Kartik Srinivasan, President, Advyzon Institutional
Kartik Srinivasan, President, Advyzon Institutional

Kartik Srinivasan joined Advyzon in February as President of Advyzon Institutional, a newly created business unit at the firm, where he is focusing on building out product and service offerings to cater to enterprise firms and the growing needs of advisors serving more complex clients. Srinivasan brings a wealth of experience from his tenure in the wealthtech and fintech sectors and has a long track record of building innovative solutions for advisors.

Prior to joining Advyzon, Srinivasan spent over seven years at Schwab Advisor Services, where he led third-party integrations and partnerships. He grew that group substantially to serve hundreds of third parties and played a crucial role in the integration of the TD Ameritrade Institutional business into the Schwab platform.

Before that, Srinivasan spent over 12 years at Morningstar. He joined as a Product Consultant and rose to the position of Director of Strategic Partnerships and Product Integrations. During the bulk of his time at Morningstar, he helped build the firm’s portfolio management system and work with Hailin Li, who went on to found Advyzon and serves as its CEO.

General Counsel Of The Year:
Jennifer C. Wang, Associate General Counsel, Avantax

Jennifer C. Wang, Associate General Counsel, Avantax
Jennifer C. Wang, Associate General Counsel, Avantax

Jennifer C. Wang, Associate General Counsel at Avantax, is responsible for managing litigation, advising on regulatory and compliance, and providing business support in matters involving employment, data privacy and security, marketing and communications, and product review.

She joined Avantax in 2023. Previously, she protected investors and the integrity of the markets as enforcement counsel for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Wang also has more than 10 years of experience in private practice as a litigator who handled complex business and employment disputes, personal injury defense and class actions.

She has served on the board or as an officer of the Dallas Asian American Bar Association, the Dallas Bar Association, the State Bar of Texas Women in the Profession Committee, and the Rise Fund, a philanthropic effort of her church to support nonprofits in the community.

Wang has been recognized as the Dallas Bar Association’s Minority Attorney of the Year and as a Champion of Diversity for the Asian Pacific Interest Section of the State Bar of Texas. She is a member of The Podium, an organization dedicated to amplifying the voices of Asian women attorneys in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

Entrepreneur Of The Year:
Helen Yang, Founder And CEO, Andes Wealth Technologies

Helen Yang, Founder and CEO, Andes Wealth Technologies
Helen Yang, Founder and CEO, Andes Wealth Technologies

Helen Yang founded Andes Wealth Technologies in 2017 to empower advisors to disrupt traditional, cookie-cutter services and provide a more meaningful, enjoyable wealth management experience for their clients. The Andes Wealth Platform offers solutions in risk tolerance assessment, behavioral finance, deep analytics and the investment policy statement.

A winner of the 2011 Harry Markowitz Special Distinction Award and inventor of two patents, Yang has 24 years of experience in fintech and holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Prior to founding Andes Wealth Technologies, she held leadership positions at Thomson Reuters and Charles River Development, a State Street company.

The Andes Wealth Platform has won awards including the 2022 and 2024 Family Wealth Report Award; the 2021, 2022 and 2023 WealthManagement.com Industry Award; the 2022 and 2023 WealthTech Americas Award; the 2023 MMI/Barron’s Industry Award; and the 2022 ThinkAdvisor Luminaries Award.

Yang serves on the boards of the Asian Americans for Equal Rights, Chinese Americans of Lexington, Lexington Lions Club and several community organizations.

Chris Latham, Managing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at clatham@wealthsolutionsreport.com

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