The ex-JPMorgan VP who says young bankers just need love
Wais Achikzad is on a mission. The former VP in JPMorgan's prime broking business has left banking altogether and is doing something different: he wants to infuse banking with love.
"My mission is to change the industry," says Achikzad. "Financial services has historically been an industry where emotional intelligence is a non-starter."
Achikzad began his banking career in client services at Morgan Stanley in 2004. He spent 14 years at JPMorgan, where he worked in hedge fund client services and managed teams of 20-30 people. In 2021, he went back to Morgan Stanley as a talent manager, before leaving again just 10 months later.
During his time in banking, Achikzad worked with young people at the start of their careers. He tells us that today's entry-level financial professionals are very different to yesterday's. "Younger people today are fragile," he says. "They're more sensitive and they have more needs. I inherited a team of people in their 20s and I had to tap into their psyches and connect with them at a deeper level. My strategy has always been to get to know people based on their mental make-up."
Achikzad has founded Xen Culture Solutions, a company to train people in financial services and beyond in the art of authentic leadership. His intention is to propagate a human-centric leadership program developed by Mohammad Anwar, author of the book "Love as a Business Strategy."
It's early days for Achikzad's new company, but his time in banking provides examples of the success of his approach. In one team, for example, he encountered someone who had been an associate for two decades. The associate was exceptional at doing the job and was a key repository of knowledge for the team, but because he had a speech impairment had never spoken up for himself or presented his work, he wasn't promoted. "People had been taking advantage of him and taking credit for work he had done," says Achikzad. " I took him aside and informed him that he would be up for promotion at the end of the year given his contributions to the team...Seeing his emotions after hearing this message and knowing how hard he had worked to finally hear such a message truly moved me."
It's a question of managing people differently, says Achikzad. Too often, people in banking are managing teams for their own gain. "But if you use love as a business strategy, if you treat people with compassion, it changes everything."
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