Q&A with Priya Malani of Stash Wealth | Innovators


The Conversations with Innovators blog discusses new innovations, big ideas, disruptive technologies, and the thought leaders, innovators, rebels, entrepreneurs and trailblazers that make all of this possible.

This week we are talking with Priya Malani, founder of Stash Wealth, an innovative wealth management firm focused on millennials.  Priya got her start at Merrill Lynch over ten years ago, but then realized she could apply what she had learned in a better, faster, and cooler way that brought “stuffy” Wall Street to a new era. Along with a team of “rebels,” she helps her younger clientele of all income levels think differently about their money, and in Stash terms, “get their financial sh*t together.”

With much of the wealth in America still held by Baby Boomers and Generation X, why focus on Millennials?

Millennials are the next generation of wealth. Studies show that over the next 30 years, they will inherit around 30 trillion dollars – definitely not worth ignoring if you’re in this business for the long haul. Millennials are making good money, but most are confused about investments. They tend to be largely ignored by traditional financial firms or are terrified to even reach out to them. We want to help them understand what they have and get a handle on their finances, without any B.S.

We love your website, its attitude, and clear branding message. So what is a H.E.N.R.Y.™?

H.E.N.R.Y.™ stands for High Earner, Not Rich Yet. H.E.N.R.Y.s™ are a subsect of the Millennial demographic that are making good money and want something to show for it. They come in all different shapes and sizes but are typically individuals and couples who have hit the six-figure mark in earning potential and/or have done a great job saving and have money that they know should be working harder for them. Most H.E.N.R.Y.s™ are also still confused about the basics like merging finances with a spouse, savings up for a down payment or baby and almost all are still dealing with some amount of student debt. We actually have a quick 2-minute quiz on our website to see if you qualify as a H.E.N.R.Y.™.

With the “Robo-Advisors” the latest hot trend, how does Stash Wealth compete?

Smart technology supports our conversations, it does not replace them. We offer white glove service – the type of hand holding that we believe helps empower individuals to make smarter financial decisions for themselves. We never forget that personal finances are personal – it’s not just about the numbers.  We take the time to make sure our clients have a solid financial foundation and have started to think about their short and long term goals. We don’t tell them how to invest until we know what they are investing for i.e. a house, retirement, a Tesla (one of the most popular goals in 2016) etc. Also about 80% of what we do with clients has a basis in behavioral finance and psychology. A robo-advisor can’t prevent an investor from making a poor investment choice like selling out when markets are down. And it certainly can’t help a couple who isn’t necessarily on the same page. Until algorithms can solve for human emotions, rational or irrational, there’s no real competition.

Why is hiring a wealth management firm that acts as a fiduciary so important to investors?

Overall, Wall Street has done a stellar job losing the trust of our generation. It’s like in the Wizard Of Oz when you realize that all the pomp and circumstance was a big farce. I feel sad for Wall Street because a few shitty people ruined it for everyone. Now, we have to work harder than ever to make sure clients know that our interests are aligned with theirs. The fiduciary standard puts clients at ease knowing we are working as an advocate rather than a salesperson.

Does Stash Wealth have anything new on the horizon?

We are launching a new dashboard for clients which is really exciting. We are not a tech firm, but we know how important it is for H.E.N.R.Y.s™ to have a beautiful user experience and we are taking every measure to deliver upon that expectation. We’ve also been approached about a reality tv show. I think the possibilities are endless and we are just getting started.

What piece of advice would you give to an entrepreneur starting their own business?

Just start.  Don’t wait until you have it all figured out because you never will.  Best to start and make mistakes early since you learn from them.  Also, read two books, E-Myth and Profit First. Too many entrepreneurs spend years pouring money into their business without realizing how to assess profitability. They are also disillusioned when they realize that starting a business has very little to do with what they’re good at. People who LOVE to bake and start a bakery (to scale) are rarely if ever the ones doing the baking.

What’s your “one thing” that most drives your professional success?

A high tolerance for pain, lol. In all seriousness, I would say persistence.  As an entrepreneur, you have to overcome failure and setbacks, and keep moving forward.

For Conversations with other thought leaders and innovators in the financial industry, see innovator Ben Cunningham of Liberty Capital Bank and innovator Brian Bollinger of Simply Safe Dividends.

For more information about related legal issues, read our Professional Services industry page.  


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