A New Take on Wealth Management

Steffanie Yuen (BS ’10), Managing Director, Head of Hong Kong Endowus
Steffanie Yuen (BS '09)

Steffanie Yuen (BS ’10) shares how digital technology shaped the wealth management industry in Asia, the promise of transforming the industry with AI, how NYU Stern helped her find a career path, and what she misses most about New York City.



For Steffanie Yuen (BS ’10), one of the best parts about participating in the NYU Pan-Asian Alumni Conference in Taipei in the fall of 2023 was reconnecting with the Stern alumni community across Asia. “It was the first time since Covid that we were all able to come together like this,” said Steffanie. “And it was so great to see the Dean travel from NYC to be there with us.” Steffanie, who heads the digital wealth platform Hong Kong @ Endowus, was invited to participate in a panel about fintech during the conference. “It was an honor to have been included.”


A financial industry veteran, Steffanie is now steeped in fintech. After Stern, Steffanie began her career in investment banking at Barclays and eventually moved into wealth management with Alibaba’s fintech arm Ant Group in Shanghai. She later moved to Value Partners, one of Asia's largest independent asset managers. It was unsurprising when NYU invited her to participate in the technology panel, as Steffanie is now the Head of Hong Kong @ Endowus and serves as co-chair of the Wealth and InvestTech committee as part of the Fintech Association of Hong Kong.


Steffanie, who grew up in Hong Kong, finds the uptake of digital money management in Asia, particularly in China, very interesting. As she explained, China’s tremendous economic growth over the last two decades created an environment where wealth management is a new concept for most people.


“China started late in the game with a lot of things, which is why the country could build out its infrastructure from scratch and was not bound by legacy,” said Steffanie. “Similarly, since the wealth management industry is new, folks in China are comfortable managing their money online because they don’t know another way.  Anyone from 20 to 60 years old is using their phone to manage their investments,” said Steffanie.



Steffanie Yuen (BS ’10) speaking at a Bloomberg panel


Because wealth grew so quickly in China, Steffanie explained, “the country needed to embrace a digital model. There was no time to build out an offline infrastructure. In fact, after I helped set up a joint venture between Vanguard and Ant in China, they used China as a pilot testing ground to launch a purely online wealth advisory service, which they eventually brought to the U.S. and Europe.”


A co-pilot model for AI and wealth management 
Now, with artificial intelligence, Steffanie envisions the wealth management industry moving into a 2.0 version, with the ability to provide more customized advice without heavy commissions, which is still the case in China.


“For example, my firm Endowus wants to bring a non-commission-based, fee-only wealth management model that is conflict-free to clients in Asia,” explained Steffanie. “Technology makes this possible since now, with the use of AI, the cost of servicing the client is lower, and we can provide institutional-grade personalized advice. Previously, this was only available to high net worth individuals or family offices.”


However, Steffanie argued wealth management is still very personal, and AI can only partially replace the role of a financial advisor. “It’s more about helping the advisor efficiently leverage a technology, like a co-pilot model, instead of replacing them with a pure AI bot.”


Steffanie was impressed that Stern had embraced fintech because she remembered when the School was more focused on traditional finance. She knew she wanted to study in the U.S. and had sought out Stern to prove to her parents that she could get in. “They knew I had been interested in the humanities and didn’t think I’d be good at anything that involved math. So, out of a sense of rebellion, along with an interest in business, I decided to apply to business school,” said Steffanie.


Looking back at her time at Stern, she was amazed at all the internship opportunities. “If you were career-focused, there were lots of ways to try out different jobs through internships. And they were not just limited to summer or winter, but year-round. It was immensely helpful.”


But one of her favorite memories is not about school at all. “I remember getting coffee and a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich from the coffee cart in front of the School. I miss that a lot,” she said. Food is a big part of Steffanie’s life, and while in New York, she sampled all types of restaurants. Now a busy professional, she spends many nights eating out for work dinners, so when she’s home, she enjoys the comfort of the homemade dumplings that her mom cooks for her. “When I am at home, I just want comfort food.”