Pakistan-American woman Saira Malik is chief investment officer in top US firm

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Saira Malik newly appointed CIO of Nuveen.com, the company announced Jan. 24, 2022. Photo: LInkedin

Once advised against attending university by her career counselor, Saira Malik, a Pakistan-American woman, was recently appointed to the post of chief investment officer (CIO) in Nuveen, a top U.S. firm managing $1.2 trillion in equities, fixed income, real estate among others, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.

Daughter of Pakistani immigrant parents, Malik drives the weekly market and investment insights and delivers client asset allocation views from across the firm’s investment teams.

“My parents are Pakistani immigrants. As a high-school senior, I was advised by a career counselor to skip university and go to community college”, she was quoted as saying on a Nuveen website.

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A known face in US financial world, she appears regularly on CNBC, Bloomberg, and Fox Business. Kiplinger’s and Barron’s ranked her among the top 100 most influential women in US finance.

In the US, she grew up in Stockton, California, and attended Lincoln High School there. Her meteoric rise to the position of the CIO at Nuveen, however, was not so smooth.

After earning her investment banker license at the age of 19, she had been rejected by almost every firm she applied for jobs at. Later, she took a master’s course in finance, and only then she was hired by a large firm. “It’s important to be persistent and it’s fine to reject bad advice,” she said.

Her family though has a history of women achieving positions, almost unthinkable for other women at times. Her grandmother, she informed, was among the first-class women who were admitted to medical schools in India, earning MD in 1934.

“Her diploma hangs on a wall in my house. It wasn’t written for a woman; it was written for a man,” she said, emphasizing, “On it, administrators crossed out the preprinted words ‘him’ and ‘his’ and replaced them with handwritten ‘her’ and ‘hers.’

To this day, she said, that diploma inspires the women in my family.

Nuveen, the asset manager of TIAA, named Malik CIO this Jan. 24.

Malik will also lead the firm’s Global Investment Committee, which brings together the most senior leaders from Nuveen’s investment teams to deliver the best thinking and actionable portfolio allocation ideas, the Nuveen press release said.

She will continue to report to William Huffman, head of the firm’s fixed income and equity
platform, which includes global equities, taxable fixed income, municipals, multiasset and
private capital.

“Saira is dedicated to Nuveen’s mission of delivering strong returns to help secure the financial futures of clients and has been an essential part of the firm’s proud history and culture of deep investment expertise for nearly two decades,” Huffman is quoted saying in the press release. “We are excited for Saira to leverage her skills and insights as our investment teams source additional alpha strategies and think in holistic portfolio terms to serve our clients as true partners.”

Malik will maintain her portfolio management and leadership responsibilities for Nuveen’s
$450 billion1 global equity business in addition to developing consensus views alongside
colleagues from across the firm’s diversified investment platform.

She will remain lead portfolio manager for the $132.95 billion CREF Stock strategy and a listed portfolio manager for the $37.84 billion CREF Growth and $27.21 billion CREF Global Equities strategies2.

Malik has 26 years of investment management experience in portfolio management, global
research and analyst roles. She joined Nuveen in 2003. Prior to being named global equities CIO, she was head of global equities portfolio management and, before that, head of global equities research.

Previously, she was with JP Morgan Asset Management, where she was a small cap growth portfolio and equity research analyst. Malik has a B.S. in economics from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and an M.S. in finance from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She also holds the CFA designation.

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