“The historical discrimination we have experienced as a community may have caused some of us to spend less and be more risk averse — we feel the need to be prepared financially should something happen again,” notes Manju Kulkarni, executive director of AAPI Equity Alliance, a Los Angeles-based AAPI advocacy organization. The desire to be debt-free may also stem from cultural experience. “My parents came from a country where credit was not common,” says Merrill’s Villani, the daughter of Pakistani immigrants. “If you needed to go to the hospital or buy a car, you paid cash upfront.”
Merrill client Lynda Sun Lee, a recently retired director of global business development for a pharmaceutical firm, grew up observing self-reliance and frugality in her father, who moved from Taiwan to New York City with $250 in his pocket. “No matter how much wealth he eventually accumulated, my father followed his own instinct about saving as much as possible,” Lee recalls.
We’re lifelong learners — even in the areas of investing and managing money
Another shared value in the AAPI community is an emphasis on education and lifelong learning. A quarter of affluent AAPI individuals cited learning new things, seeing new places and having new experiences as top life motivators. That curiosity extends to finances as well, with respondents expressing more interest than the general affluent population in topics like tax-efficient investing, asset allocation and diversification strategies, online investing tools, preparing for healthcare costs and estate planning. Lee notes, “Since I retired, I’ve thrown myself into all sorts of different opportunities to learn and grow.”