I want to empower individuals from all different socioeconomic backgrounds to take control of their financial futures. I work towards investor education and empowerment and appropriate investor protection, while still enabling individual choice.
I learned a ton and got a sense of all different perspectives—those of big institutions and individual investors; those who wanted more regulation and those who wanted less; the challenges to equal access to information and opportunity in the financial industry.
I realized that I thrive based on day-to-day flexibility to manage my time and priorities. I had the financial resources and client connections to start operating, which mitigated the risk. I had a good sense of what kind of work I liked to do—research and advocacy projects—and what I did not—navigating institutional politics for a promotion.
I do not really track my hours. I have a small team that supports me. Sometimes I am able to delegate more and sometimes I have to micromanage more. I generally have a good work-life balance—better than I ever have. That being said, I monitor emails and am responsive throughout the year, including on vacations, and probably disconnect less than when I was an employee of BlackRock or the SEC. Since I enjoy my work and see the fruits of my labor more directly, I do not mind these intrusions into my personal time. They feel like much more of a choice on my part amongst my priorities on each given day than when I worked in my previous jobs.
I mentor startup entrepreneurs through various incubator programs and do get some community from that. For consultants like myself, however, community is somewhat lacking. I tend to form professional relationships wherever I get involved—clients, nonprofit boards, etc.
I advocate on behalf of Morningstar for regulations that inform and protect investors. I improve the quality of compliance with regulations through my work with Fidelity on building AI tools for compliance. I educate individuals and institutions throughout my work for several clients.
As a blind South Asian woman, I am keenly aware of the inequities in access and information about financial opportunities. I speak often about these challenges and how to overcome them. For instance, I spoke on a panel about crypto investing targeted at informing women about the potential opportunities and risks since the crypto landscape is dominated by men. A lot of groups care about specific social issues, and I write and advocate a lot about ESG investing. I look for start-ups working in this space—those who seek to expand access to financial opportunities—and have provided strategic advice, often on a pro-bono basis.
Honestly, I try not to think about it too much. I speak up and am not shy about giving my views on any topic—be it financial, policy, relevant to diversity, or anything else. I am certainly aware of biases—both conscious and unconscious—and I embrace my identity and journey to explain how I grew up in a family with limited financial means and virtually no financial acumen. That is what motivated my deep interest in understanding the financial system and impacting individuals to have greater control over their financial lives. I have done so through my work both successfully and via failure. I tried launching my own start-up to help gig workers save for retirement. My dream was to help every Uber and Doordash worker create the safety net for themselves that the government and employers were not providing. My cofounder and I developed a beta product but lack of funding opportunities during Covid forced us to fold. I still look for ways to partner with startups and larger financial companies to make this dream happen and I think it all comes from identifying with the lack of opportunity and information that many people face based on my own experience.
Do not just look at big companies like the investment banks—try to get more responsibility at a smaller company. So many companies are doing cutting edge projects right now.
Tandem biking—always looking for biking partners until I can find a self-driving bike! I love to travel, go on moderate hikes, swim, and take part in guided wine tastings. ∎