Investor education and advocacy are central tenants of The BAM ALLIANCE promise to be a destination of ideas and intelligence that allow investors to make better decisions about their financial futures. And the introduction of new and varied voices represents just one of the many ways we act on that pledge. To that end, we’re pleased to announce that nationally known advisor, author and speaker Manisha Thakor has joined our team as Director of Wealth Strategies for Women.
In her new role, Manisha will leverage her energies and experience to lead The BAM ALLIANCE in its effort to address the perspectives of women investors and the role they play in safeguarding their own financial futures and that of their families. A long-time and ardent advocate of financial literacy for women, Manisha’s dedication to this topic has resonated with editors and readers alike, empowering her to connect with woman investors of diverse backgrounds, circumstance and affluence. She has co-authored two critically acclaimed personal finance books, My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl’s Guide to Personal Finance and Get Financially Naked: How to Talk Money with Your Honey. Her financial advice has been featured in a wide range of national media outlets, including CNBC, CNN, PBS, NPR, The Today Show, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Real Simple, Essence, Glamour and others.
A fascination with finance came early in Manisha’s life. “I fell in love with the idea of compounding when I was around 11 years old,” she said. “My father, a CPA and the retired CFO of a Fortune 500 company, sat me down in a moment of unique and powerful father-daughter bonding. He showed me how to calculate, on his HP12C calculator, how much money I’d have at retirement if I saved and invested my babysitting and lawn mowing money. When I saw the amazing twin turbo powers of time and compounded interest, I was just hooked. It was also important that my father spoke to me about money and business the same way as he did to my brother. And at the same time, my mother was reading me books that depicted women doing the same jobs as men.”
Manisha went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College and her MBA from Harvard Business School. She is also a CFA charterholder. “My first job out of college was in investment banking. I can remember very clearly applying for financial analyst positions and having interviewer after interviewer look at my resume and ask me why I wanted to go into investment banking instead of social work, given that all my extracurriculars were focused on women’s social advocacy work. When I told them that money speaks and I wanted to earn enough to have a seat at the table where I could make a real difference, to a one they all nodded their heads. It was a pivotal moment for me — seeing both their indifference to the values I held closely and their recognition of money as a gateway for making change. That was when I originally began to think that there must be a way to do both, to have economic stability and strength and to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.”
Manisha began her more than 20-year career in financial services on the institutional side of the industry, working as a buy-side equity analyst following retailers and financial services companies, including asset management firms, securities brokers, insurance companies and credit card companies. She later became a portfolio manager, ultimately building-out and running a $6 billion separately managed account business before abandoning active management for the benefits of an evidenced-based investment philosophy.
Even in the institutional setting, Manisha found she was gradually approached by more and more women with deeply personal financial questions. Her solution to this need for investment counsel was to launch her own advisory firm, MoneyZen Wealth Management, in 2012. “My goal was for each woman client to understand how much she should be saving and spending, how her funds were invested, and the key issues around estate planning, risk management and taxes,” she said. “The end result was the creation of a wealth management experience for women in which they felt both seen and heard. Women have complex financial lives, and those issues need to be addressed with real solutions that will allow them to experience the tranquility and centeredness that comes from holistic wealth management.”
At MoneyZen, Manisha came to realize that running her own, small RIA meant there was a natural limit to the number of women she would be able to help directly. “Having had extensive experience writing, speaking and teaching about the basics of personal finance and investing to women on a more informal basis, I saw how strategic advocacy could exponentially increase the number of women I could reach,” she said.
“As the years passed from the first printing of On My Own Two Feet, which is now in its second edition, I started hearing from women about how some of its core themes — living within your means, saving early and often, investing through low-cost index funds, and protecting yourself in a range of ways from traditional insurance to identity theft — left them feeling financially empowered in a way they had not thought possible,” she said. “Seeing women light up as they took ownership of their financial well-being fueled my desire to connect with women in all stages and circumstances of life. That’s the mission I’m bringing to my new role.”
Indeed, Manisha sees her addition to The BAM ALLIANCE thought leadership team as part of the organization’s continued commitment to providing women investors with asset management and wealth planning services customized to effectively and comprehensively meet their unique needs. “There is a calm and confidence a person can feel in regard to their finances when they achieve a clear understanding about where they are now, where they want to go, and what specific action steps they need to take to bridge that gap,” she said. “Even the brightest people sometimes need guidance when it comes to the intricacies of financial planning and investing.”
Her message is clear: Financial independence can give women a voice and greater life choices. “I wanted that for myself, and I want to help other women achieve that too.”
The opinions expressed by featured authors are their own and may not accurately reflect those of the BAM ALLIANCE. This article is for general information only and is not intended to serve as specific financial, accounting or tax advice.
© 2014, The BAM ALLIANCE