FinTech Female Fridays: Michelle Tran, Head of Business Development, Harness Wealth
August is the two year anniversary of NYC FinTech Women; we are excited to feature Michelle Tran who is the co-Founder of the organization.
You have a very unique upbringing as you grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, but worked in Hong Kong and London for a few years. How has this shaped the trajectory of your career?
My personal career rules are to take calculated risks and to raise my hand often. I tend to seek opportunities where there is a strategy and a team to build. All throughout my career, I joined new teams and it was the opportunities to build teams and strategy in Asia and New York that were the most transformative. I moved from San Francisco to Hong Kong with BlackRock and it was a move that defined my career.
After spending several years in US iShares in a variety of business development roles, I knew it was time for me to raise my hand for global role in Asia. The desire for a global role was motivated by two goals: experience the world by living globally and to do it thoughtfully with a growth business. I lived in London right after college and loved and missed the diversity of thought and culture.
There is no better city to have a truly global role than Hong Kong. I was responsible for iShares sales growth with global private banks like JP Morgan, Goldman and Morgan Stanely. That meant learning new personal and work cultures, connecting across regions remotely, and being keenly aware of the inner workings of global organizations in London, New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, Singapore and more.
As someone who has a strong background in finance; what motivated you to join Harness Wealth as the Head of Business Development and what drew you to their mission?
Harness Wealth’s mission is to help everyone build a better financial future, which is one of the reasons why I’m in financial services. When I first started at BlackRock, I was shown a video about how BlackRock is an asset management firm with a goal of helping clients. BlackRock runs the pensions for teachers and firefighters. It clicked that at the end of the day we are doing our job to help someone.
I also joined Harness Wealth because of their team and the opportunity to help individuals who are in a wealth growth stage source the best experts to build their holistic wealth strategy. Each advisor I meet is doing their job well because they believe in the mission to help people and families build wealth so they can travel, send their kids to college and retire. Harness Wealth provides a technological experience backed by deep human expertise.
The most exciting opportunity with Harness Wealth is our opportunity to be transformative in industries that need innovation like tax. I spoke to the AICPA, the tax industry’s leading organization, and they commented on how the tax industry is ripe for disruption. Tax services will always be needed especially as people’s wealth grows in complexity. When I describe Harness Wealth to CPAs, they get excited to be part of an innovative approach to targeted client referrals.
Harness Wealth is a wealth FinTech company that is trying to modernize wealth management to be a one stop shop for tax, legal, and estate and trust advice. What about the space do you believe may need improvement for the modern day individual and how do you think that companies can easily improve the sector?
The modern day individual needs instant information connectivity. Not only do we need transparency into accounts, but we need to know that each part of our financial strategy is working together and communicating. We need to have access to it as much or as little as we want. How can those experts all managing my financial strategy work together in a more immediate and collaborative manner?
What were your initial goals for NYC FinTech Women and how have these goals changed over the past two years?
The initial goal and today’s goal remains the same: to create a community to empower, support and sponsor women in their career advancement in FinTech. What has changed is how we are doing it and the community we are reaching. We went from 16 women at first to over 2800 members. Women and men recognize that this community needs to exist and the only way to succeed is if we do it together.
While the goal remains the same, one thing is clearer now. Part of the ‘empower, support and sponsor’ means we need to give transformative women visibility. Women need to toot their own horn and we want to help them shout from the rooftops about how they are truly amazing and transforming FinTech.
What has been the biggest surprise for you starting NYC FinTech Women?
The biggest surprise has been how much this community resonates with all walks of life. The need to build a strong network of like-minded, ambitious women is evident with how big and quickly this organization grew. Also, the women who lead the organization. We have a tight-knit leadership team and each person is spending their time and energy to grow this organization. A big thank you to those on the Leadership Committee!
As someone who is very knowledgeable about the FinTech space; what do you see the next emerging trend to be?
Stablecoin and payments. We’ve seen stablecoin explode in the past year with Tether, TrustToken, Gemini, Paxos and now Facebook is launching Libra. I’m certain Amazon and Google as well as financial services like JP Morgan will be launching similar products soon too. Stablecoin enables frictionless and timely payments between developed and emerging markets and it will change how the world has access to funds.
Reach out to Michelle on LinkedIn.