Barron’s annual list honours prominent women in the financial-services industry and are helping to shape its future
Five Indian American women figure in Barron’s fourth annual list of the 100 Most Influential Women in US Finance honoring “women who have achieved positions of prominence in the financial services industry and are helping to shape its future.”
Chosen by a panel of Barron’s writers and editors based on external and internal nominations, the list includes executives at major US companies, investment managers and securities analysts, and public servants and policy makers.
Read: Six Indian Americans among 100 Most Influential Women in US Finance (March 8, 2022)
Indian Americans on the list are Anu Aiyengar, Global Head, Mergers and Acquisitions, JP Morgan, Rupal J Bhansali, Chief Investment Officer & Portfolio Manager, Global Equities, Ariel Investments, Meena Lakdawala-Flynn, Co-Head, Global Private Wealth Management, Goldman Sachs Group, Sonal Desai, Chief Investment Officer, Fixed Income, Franklin Templeton, and Savita Subramanian, Head of US Equity & Quantitative Strategy, Bank of America Securities.
Anu Aiyengar has been interested in mergers and acquisitions from early in her career, according to her Barron’s profile. She is the only person of color and the sole woman to carry this position on Wall Street.
Since 1999, she has advised both domestic and international clients on over $500 billion worth of transactions including mergers, acquisitions, divestitures/separations, leveraged buyouts, proxy contests, unsolicited transactions and special committee assignments.
She also serves on JP Morgan’s fairness and valuation committee. As the co-chair of the Investment Bank’s women network Aiyengar is involved with several initiatives across JP Morgan and Wall Street to recruit, mentor and develop women.
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She is also co-chair of the Smith Business Advisory Network. Aiyengar lives in New York City with her husband. She has a BA in economics from Smith College and an MBA from Vanderbilt University.
Rupal J. Bhansali, 55, broke through the glass ceiling and now uses her position as a senior leader to help other women succeed in finance. “My mantra is: I want women to earn money, learn money, manage money, and multiply money,” she told Barron’s.
Bhansali manages more than $7 billion, including Ariel’s International Fund and Global Fund. This is her third appearance on Barron’s 100 list.
After joining the board of the nonprofit 100 Women in Finance, she launched the webinar series “Candid Conversations with CIOs,” to give women an insider’s view of what it takes to become a chief investment officer and to show the impact that investors can have when managing billions of dollars in funds.
“It’s said that women can’t be what they can’t see, so this is my effort of giving female CIOs more visibility and trying to showcase to our industry at large that this is what you can be,” she told the magazine.
She earned a Bachelor of Commerce in accounting and finance, as well as a Master of Commerce in international finance and banking from the University of Mumbai. She later earned an MBA in finance from the University of Rochester, where she was a Rotary Foundation Scholar.
Read: 7 Indian American women among Forbes ‘50 Over 50’ (October 7, 2022)
Sonal Desai, 58, is responsible for overseeing Franklin’s Municipal, Corporate Credit, Floating Rate, Multisector, Global (including Emerging Markets), and Money Market Fixed Income teams.
She is also a portfolio manager for a number of strategies. A member of Franklin Resources’ executive committee, a small group of the company’s top leaders responsible for shaping the firm’s overall strategy, she also serves on the firm’s Management and Investment Committees.
Before her current role, she served as a portfolio manager with Dr Michael Hasenstab for the flagship Templeton Global Bond and Templeton Global Total Return strategies, as well as director of research for Templeton Global Macro.
Desai started her career as an assistant professor of economics at the University of Pittsburgh and then worked for over six years at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC.
Following this, she joined the private financial sector and worked for about five years as director and senior economist for Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein in London.
Desai joined Franklin Templeton in 2009. She holds a bachelor of arts in economics from Delhi University and a PhD in economics from Northwestern University.
Savita Subramanian, 50, is head of US Equity Strategy & US Quantitative Strategy and a managing director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. She is responsible for determining forecasts for the S&P 500, recommending US sector allocations and themes, and developing and marketing the firm’s US equity strategy product to institutional and individual clients.
Read: 5 Indian Americans among America’s Richest Self-Made Women (July 5, 2022)
Subramanian is also a member of the firm’s Research & Recommendations Committee and a member of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Diversity & Inclusion Council.
She has received high ranks in industry surveys including the Institutional Investor All America Research Team (ranked for the past 6 years) Greenwich Research survey, and Bloomberg Markets World’s Top Analysts.
Subramanian frequently appears in television and print journalism and is a member/board member of Q Group, Chicago Quantitative Alliance, the Society of Quantitative Analysts and Women on Wall Street.
Before joining Merrill Lynch in 2001, Subramanian was an analyst at Scudder Kemper Investments in New York and San Francisco.
She received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Mathematics and Philosophy with Honors from UC Berkeley and an MBA degree from Columbia University.
Meena Flynn’s career in finance began soon after a sports injury, according to Barron’s. A zealous gymnast who at one point wanted to compete in the Olympics, Flynn had to stay at George Washington University one summer to rehabilitate her knee.
She did an internship at Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group, working on the institutional equity sales desk. “The moment I stepped foot onto that trading floor, it was competitive juices flowing,” recalls Flynn, co-head of global private wealth management at Goldman Sachs Group.
“I just loved the markets and how micro and macro come together from an investing perspective.”
Flynn, 45, joined JPMorgan Chase in 1999. The following year, Flynn moved to Goldman Sachs, becoming a partner in 2014. Today she wears several hats, including co-chairing the global inclusion and diversity committee.
She recently attended a marquee event in California for a program called In the Lead, which caters to ultrahigh-net-worth women.