I try to teach my son every moment I get. Each time I can, I use an example and sometimes they can be pretty far-fetched! Earlier this year, I took my son to Hawaii. We stayed at a very nice resort and participated in all kinds of fun activities. But every chance I would get I reminded him that this lifestyle isn’t the norm. I personally did not grow up experiencing things like this. So that weekend we got home, my son came to my room before going to bed crying (my son rarely ever cries). I asked him what’s wrong? He said, “I don’t want to get old and pay bills. It’s fun right now!” I told him that, “I don’t want to pay bills either, dude.” The next day he opened up a stockpile account to start investing so that he can start making money. So far, he’s made a 10% return! The point of this story is that you should always work hard, appreciate what you have, think about your future, and never take anything for granted or sit on your laurels.
As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Grace Reyes, President of The Association of Asian American Investment Managers (AAAIM), a non-profit organization promoting ethnic and gender diversity within the investment industry. AAAIM works with seasoned and rising investment managers that handle over $1T AUM collectively and Grace helps Emerging Managers get access to the largest institutional investors. Over the past decade she has formed a close rapport with an array of industry leaders and prominent investors — relationships that have helped her to bring awareness to this personal and professional mission as she leads and drives growth for AAAIM. Grace’s message is further amplified through her top 1% investment management profile on LinkedIn where she engages with 15,000+ followers sharing selfies and conversations with some of the industry’s best-known investors.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Banking/Finance field?
I come from very humble beginnings in the south side of Stockton and I remember watching Pretty Women and being fascinated with Richard Gere and his career in private equity. From as long as I can remember, all I ever wanted to do was work in finance. While I knew I loved working with numbers, I eventually gravitated towards the marketing and sales side of the industry, realizing that I could leverage both my understanding of complex investment strategies and combine that with my real talent, which is influencing people to invest in those strategies and funds.
My path in finance eventually led me to The Association of Asian American Investment Managers (AAAIM), whose mission I could not be prouder to represent! AAAIM is a non-profit organization promoting ethnic and gender diversity within the investment industry. An official partner to the largest US public pension plans’ emerging manager, diversity and inclusion efforts, AAAIM’s alliance of prominent, successful Asian American leaders includes an expansive network of seasoned and rising investment managers that handle over one trillion in assets under management. Our organization provides a forum for professionals in the industry to meet, network and create business opportunities.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far?
Being part of AAAIM has been a great platform for me to do well and do good. I’m working toward an important cause and mission and simultaneously helping increase ethnic and gender diversity. I’m able to be a conduit and help high performing fund managers with strong track records get access to capital. Millions of people are able to depend on having funds in their pension, which is kind of astounding when you think about it! Knowing that AAAIM’s work has such a strong impact is amusing to me. We’re small but mighty.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Currently I am focused on planning for AAAIM’s National Conference taking place in New York City in September. This annual event brings together the most high-profile institutional investors under one roof. It’s a way to provide a national platform for Asian American investment managers across the major asset classes of private equity, hedge funds, public equities, fixed income and real assets to meet, conduct business and learn from insightful leaders and each other.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think one of the ways we set ourselves apart is the hype and energy we receive in connecting with the community through our Linkedin! We are incredibly active on Linkedin and we receive many comments from people saying how much fun we’re having behind it all. We are getting things done while enjoying ourselves and by bringing our network with us behind the scenes, we’re able to engage this community even further, putting AAAIM in front of greater audiences of members and investors.
Wall Street and Finance used to be an “all white boys club”. This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change?
At the end of the day, it’s because of the most prestigious and influential institutional investors who have made a big push for diversity and inclusion in the firms they invest in. Organizations like AAAIM that are champions of the cause and of a positive message of greater diversity in the field have also played an important role. If you look at the faces of whose funds the biggest pension plans are managing, those faces are diverse. It’s no wonder that the plans are seeking the same diversity in the investment firms that are managing their money.
Of course, despite the progress, we still have a lot more work to do to achieve parity. According to this report in CNBC, less than 17 percent of senior positions in investment banks are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and /or c) society to support this movement going forward?
Individuals: Get involved in organizations like AAAIM to scale your efforts. Look within yourself and how you’re implementing diversity — who are your vendors? Who are your employees? Women? Minorities? Companies and Society: How do you make work more conducive to women? Do you provide flexible work hours, allow employees to work remotely, promote more women to leadership positions? You can’t be what you can’t see.
You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive things one should do to become more financially literate, what would you say? Can you please give a story or example for each.
I try to teach my son every moment I get. Each time I can, I use an example and sometimes they can be pretty far-fetched! Earlier this year, I took my son to Hawaii. We stayed at a very nice resort and participated in all kinds of fun activities. But every chance I would get I reminded him that this lifestyle isn’t the norm. I personally did not grow up experiencing things like this.
So that weekend we got home, my son came to my room before going to bed crying (my son rarely ever cries). I asked him what’s wrong? He said, “I don’t want to get old and pay bills. It’s fun right now!” I told him that, “I don’t want to pay bills either, dude.” The next day he opened up a stockpile account to start investing so that he can start making money. So far, he’s made a 10% return!
The point of this story is that you should always work hard, appreciate what you have, think about your future, and never take anything for granted or sit on your laurels.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
AAAIM’s Board is such an impressive group of true industry leaders and veterans, each with so much wisdom. I feel particularly lucky to be able to work with them on a regular basis as they provide their expertise in everything we do at AAAIM. The organization would not be what it is without them.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Richard Branson’s said, “If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing.” In all aspect of my life whether personal or professional, I try it make sure there is some kind of element of fun while making sure the goals and mission are achieved.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My personal and professional mission is to inspire ethnic and gender diversity within the investment industry. Thinking bigger, I do hope that the efforts that I work on day in and day out with AAAIM have a rippling effect beyond the investment industry and to all parts of our country’s workforce.
Thank you for joining us!
About The Author:
Tyler Gallagher is the CEO and Founder of Regal Assets, a “Bitcoin IRA” company. Regal Assets is an international alternative assets firm with offices in the United States, Canada, London and Dubai focused on helping private and institutional wealth procure alternative assets for their investment portfolios. Regal Assets is an Inc. 500 company and has been featured in many publications such as Forbes, Bloomberg, Market Watch and Reuters. With offices in multiple countries, Regal Assets is uniquely positioned as an international leader in the alternative assets industry and was awarded the first ever crypto-commodities license by the DMCC in late 2017. Regal Assets is currently the only firm in the world that holds a license to legally buy and sell cryptos within the Middle East and works closely with the DMCC to help evolve and grow the understanding and application of blockchain technology. In addition to his role with Regal Assets, Tyler is a regular contributor to Forbes, Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global and Authority Magazine. Tyler has also been featured in many news publications and has been a guest expert on “The News with Ed Shultz”. Tyler is a proud member of the Forbes Finance Council a private invite only-group of hand-selected industry leaders.