Barron’s on International Women’s Day, March 8, unveiled 100 women making their mark as the most influential in U.S. finance, with at least eight Indian American women recognized.
Women have made enormous strides in the past year in the public sector, the Barron’s news release said.
America elected its first female vice president, Kamala Harris, in November. Janet Yellen now serves as the nation’s first female secretary of the Treasury, and the 117th U.S. Congress includes a record 143 women, or 27 percent of its total membership.
Women are also achieving greater prominence and power in the private sector, and particularly in the world of finance, the release said.
Among the highly accomplished, path-breaking women named to Barron’s second annual list of the 100 Most Influential Women in U.S. Finance were Indian Americans Anu Aiyengar, Nandita Bakhshi, Rupal J. Bhansali, Sonal Desai, Seema Hingorani, Gunjan Kedia, Saira Malik and Savita Subramanian.
Aiyengar is the co-head of global mergers and acquisitions at J.P. Morgan.
Early in her career, Aiyengar had an intellectual interest in mergers and acquisitions. She is now the co-head of global M&A for J.P. Morgan, whose parent company, JPMorgan Chase, is the largest U.S. bank by assets, her Barron’s profile said.
Aiyengar studied finance and economics, but notes that deal making is the perfect career for people who are equally intrigued by crunching numbers, studying legal contracts, and building client relationships.
“If you’re a confused person who doesn’t know whether you want to be a consultant, a lawyer, a corporate finance person, or a psychologist, you go into M&A,” Aiyengar joked in the profile.
This year, M&A activity has come roaring back, after a brief pause last year. “You shouldn’t underestimate the power of human beings or capital markets,” Aiyengar says.
Bakhshi is the CEO of Bank of the West and co-CEO of BNP Paribas USA.
As an immigrant from India who started her career as a part-time bank teller, Bakhshi had an inspiring path up the corporate ladder, her profile notes.
Last year, she grew the bank’s assets by 3 percent, leading a team that worked remotely to meet the needs of 1.8 million customers, it said.
What Bakhshi, 62, loves the most about the job is the chance to serve individual consumers. “I came into banking by accident, but I stayed because I like what it did,” she told the publication. “I truly believe banking is a noble profession.”
During the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program, Bank of the West worked around the clock under tight deadlines and helped tens of thousands of small businesses apply for loans needed to survive amid the Covid-19 crisis, it said.
For other ambitious women and people of color, Bakhshi’s advice is to take risks by doing a job that stretches you a little.
Bhansali is the chief investment officer and portfolio manager of international and global equity strategies at Ariel Investments.
Her mission is to make sure that women enter the finance profession and rise to prominent roles in the industry. In that respect, Covid-19 became an opportunity, the profile notes.
“My mission in life is to empower women,” she says. The pandemic, with a tragic number of deaths and illnesses across the globe, has been a humanitarian crisis, but it has also opened up new conversations around diversity and the lack of it. Last year’s Black Lives Matter movement for racial justice also magnified the issue.
“The markets need diversity just as democracy needs plurality,” says Bhansali, 51, who is also a member of Barron’s investment Roundtable.
This is her second appearance on the Barron’s 100 list. She manages more than $7 billion at Ariel, including its International Fund and Global Fund the profile continued.
Last year, Bhansali joined the boards of 100 Women in Finance and Columbia Law School’s Ira M. Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership.
Barron’s noted in its release that profiles for all the honorees, a group of about 90 individuals, including Desai, Hingorani, Kedia, Malik and Subramanian, will be released on a weekly basis.
Desai is chief investment officer at Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group; Hingorani is the founder and chair at Girls Who Invest; Kedia is the vice chair of wealth management and investment services at US Bancorp; Malik is the head of global equities at Nuveen; and Subramanian is the head of U.S. equity strategy and quantitative strategy at BofA Securities.
The second annual 100 Most Influential Women in U.S. Finance list—a group that includes banking and brokerage executives, money managers and research analysts, financial-company CEOs, public servants, and policy makers—are but a fraction of the army of women whose contributions are strengthening the financial-services industry and the U.S. financial system, as both prepare for the challenges ahead, the news release said.