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Women Leading The Finance Industry: Paris Riha of Arch Global Advisors On The 5 Things You Should Do To Increase Your Financial Literacy

An Interview With Tyler Gallagher

Working in the financial industry throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been an incredibly interesting experience. Throughout this past year, not only has there been a loss of the one-on-one interactions that are important to have with clients’ in-person, but we also saw the rise of the retail investor. With everyone working from home and many platforms to choose from, more people invested in the markets. Then early this year, we saw the phenomenon of how stocks could be influenced by social media and forums such as Reddit, which ultimately created more volatility in the market. Overall, I would say that the past year and a half only solidified the need for financial advisors, as individual investors saw not only how quickly they could make money but also how quickly they could lose it.

As a part of our series about “Women Leading The Finance Industry”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Paris Riha.

Paris Riha is providing support as an Associate Wealth Advisor to the Partners at Arch Global Advisors. Mrs. Riha completed her Bachelor’s degree with honors from Duke University with a major in neuroscience and minor in chemistry. In addition, Paris is currently enrolled in Harvard Business School Online, taking courses in financial accounting, economics for managers, and business analytics.

Prior to joining Arch Global Advisors, Mrs. Riha worked at AXA/Equitable Advisors as a Financial Consultant. Mrs. Riha is an Investment Advisor Representative and holds the following licenses: General Securities Representative Registration (Series 7), Uniformed Combined State Law Examination Registration (Series 66), and a New York State Life, Accident and Health Insurance license.

Paris was born and raised in New York City and is Bilingual in Spanish. She loves to travel the world and considers Argentina a second home after living there for 5 years. Paris is a fan of the Rangers, Cowboys and River Plate and also enjoys golf and tennis. She is also an active member in the community as a member of the Duke Alumni Admissions Advisory Committee.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance field?

I was brought into the finance field indirectly. I studied neuroscience and chemistry at Duke University, but I always felt like something was missing in my career during medical school. Since I have always been interested in numbers, I started a brokerage account and began to see how certain stocks and trends led to the growth of my investments, and I was fascinated. So, moving back to New York from Argentina, I decided that this would be my opportunity to start over and begin a new career in finance. It’s been the best change, and I couldn’t be happier; rather than helping individuals and families through medicine, I now help them to be financially secure for retirement and grow generational wealth.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

Working in the financial industry throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been an incredibly interesting experience. Throughout this past year, not only has there been a loss of the one-on-one interactions that are important to have with clients’ in-person, but we also saw the rise of the retail investor. With everyone working from home and many platforms to choose from, more people invested in the markets. Then early this year, we saw the phenomenon of how stocks could be influenced by social media and forums such as Reddit, which ultimately created more volatility in the market. Overall, I would say that the past year and a half only solidified the need for financial advisors, as individual investors saw not only how quickly they could make money but also how quickly they could lose it.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

As of January 2021, Arch Global Advisors launched our ESG Portfolio. This has been a particularly exciting new project for our team, as it creates the opportunity for our clients to take Environmental, Social, and Governance issues into consideration and allows investors to align their personal values with their investment objectives. ESG investing has become more and more popular, and we hope that we can contribute to that trend and create awareness through our portfolio strategy by promoting socially responsible and meaningful investing.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

At Arch Global Advisors, we strive for excellent customer service. This means we always put our clients first, resulting in satisfied clientele who trust us to manage their assets for generations to come. However, what I think makes our company stand out the most is how our President & CEO, Sheraz Iftikhar, actively strives to incorporate inclusion at the workplace and aligns our companies’ values through investments.

For example, Sheraz has done an incredible job of having a diverse group of employees and leadership team. For my case, Sheraz brought me on in December 2020 as the first female associate at Arch Global Advisors. Since my hire, he has been extremely encouraging to me and like a mentor as I stepped into this senior finance role as a female in a typically male-dominated arena. At our firm, it is important to have representation across gender and race because it means we can better help our clients while considering their unique cultures, values, or perspectives. Overall, I feel extremely supported by the firm, and I am very proud to be a female in a senior finance role for a company that not only adapts to but encourages change and is built off of a foundation of strong standards and principles.

Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. 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?

In my opinion, there are many reasons for this change, but there are two specific aspects that are correlated and contribute to this movement. First, different ethnicities and genders have become more interested in economics and have entered the financial industry over the years. At the same time, clients of different ethnicities and genders started seeking out individuals in the financial industry with whom they could relate to or share more similarities with. Arch Global Advisors is so successful because we are an independent firm, which allows us to be client-centric and utilize our associate’s unique perspectives to create personalized and innovative solutions for our clients to accumulate and protect their wealth. In short, both the supply and demand increased in the industry, causing this change to move forward.

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?

Although 17% is a small amount, it does show progress towards women holding more senior positions in investment banks throughout the years, as change can only happen gradually. To support this movement going forward, first, I think companies should rely less on an employee’s gender and more on performance and quantitative data to create an equal playing field for promotions to more senior positions. To clarify, women should be put in these senior positions based on their skill and capability, not just to achieve parity, as that would do more harm than good. Second, I think that companies should be more open to flexible work schedules, especially now with a new work hybrid structure in place for the pandemic, so that women (and men!) don’t have to choose between raising children and earning a salary. Lastly, I think society needs to change how they view women in the workforce, and we need to start viewing women as an asset rather than a weakness. After all, 90%1 of women control their family’s spending and purchasing, they think more rationally about investing2 and typically see higher returns, and outperform men by about 40 basis points3 on average.

Let’s now turn to a slightly new topic. According to this report in Fortune, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. In your opinion or experience what is the cause of these unfortunate numbers? If you had the power to make a change, what 3 things would you recommend to improve these numbers?

I am not surprised by these numbers at all. Before I started my career as a wealth advisor, even though I was very well educated, there were a lot of gaps in my knowledge, specifically in economics and finance. First, I would start education in financial literacy in middle school or high school. This could range from incorporating aspects of finance into math questions to special lectures or even offering an Introduction to Finance elective. Second, I would have universities integrate a one semester requirement of Economics — like the requirements typically seen for language, history, and English. Lastly, I would implement educational meetings for staff at any company offering retirement accounts that are mandatory and interactive. It is important to understand what options are offered by employers and learn how contributions from paychecks can help significantly in securing your retirement for the future.

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 would advise my adult child to take advantage of every investment opportunity available and start investing at a young age. Time after time, it is proven that the younger you start saving and investing in the market, the more money you will have than someone who invests later, even if they invest more. Learn the value of money. I was always told that “5 dollars is 5 dollars,” meaning you shouldn’t discard or overlook a small amount of cash as if it was nothing. If you spend 5 dollars here and 5 dollars there, those values add up at the end of the day, resulting in a higher cost that can’t be overlooked.
Understand the time value of money. Anyone could go out and spend 100 dollars to buy something gratifying right now, but if you invest and let your money grow over time, you can buy something more valuable in the future.
Learn about taxes. One of the best ways to understand money and grow wealth for you and your family is to learn how taxes work — income tax, capital gains tax, taxes on your retirement accounts, estate taxes, and more. Utilize all the tools available to you; you can’t only rely on one investment tactic. For example, along with a brokerage account and retirement accounts, put your money in as many buckets as possible, whether it is Life Insurance, Annuities, REITS, or other alternative investments.
Make sure to take courses or learn the basics of Economics or Finance. There are many different ways to enhance your knowledge, ranging from reading to online courses to podcasts. If you don’t know what’s available to you going forward, you’re already a step behind. Lastly, for any accounts you have established, make sure to get access to them online and check them regularly. The more knowledge you have, the better.

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?

There are actually a few people who I am grateful towards that helped me get to where I am now. The first would be my grandfather, who introduced me to the basics of investing and the stock market at a young age. The second would be my husband, who has supported me and stayed by my side, whether during medical school or throughout my change in career to finance. Last would be the team here at Arch Global Advisors, for hiring me, taking the time to teach and mentor me, and helping me become the advisor I am today and will continue to be in the future.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corrriente.”
The literal translation of this quote is that the ‘shrimp who falls asleep is carried by the current,’ but the meaning translates to not letting the world pass you by. For me, what drives success is to continuously be alert and proactive instead of reactive — which is exactly the message portrayed in this life lesson quote.

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. :-)

If I could inspire a movement, it would be for Latin American Visibility. Recently, there has been a lot of public awareness in the movements of Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate. However, I think that along with those issues, we should address those going on within the Latin American community, especially since Hispanic and Latino Americans are the largest ethnic minority in the United States, comprising approximately 18.5% of the population.

Securities offered through Registered Representatives of Cadaret Grant & Co., Inc., a broker-dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Arch Global Advisors, a Registered Investment Adviser. Arch Global

Advisors and Cadaret Grant are not affiliated.

Thank you for the time you spent on this interview. We wish you only continued success.

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