Neesha Hathi

Chief digital officer , Charles Schwab Corp.

She’s the chief digital officer of one of the country’s largest financial services companies, yet Neesha Hathi doesn’t see herself as a techie. “I’ve always thought of myself as a business person,” said the UCLA MBA who worked at tech startups before joining Schwab in 2004. “I really love the idea of leveraging tech to solve business problems.”

She has an equally practical approach to innovation. “Innovation isn’t always about creating some new fintech app; it’s often about simplifying or streamlining things to improve accessibility or make life easier,” Hathi said.

Some of her team’s innovations in that realm have been Schwab Stock Slices, which allow individual investors to buy fractional shares of expensive stocks, and Advisor Connect, a portfolio management system for advisers that eases operational burdens and frees their time. Influenced by the impact of the pandemic, Hathi said Schwab is working on solutions that involve personal approaches to physical and financial health.

“We’re likely to see innovation in areas involving goals, tracking and wellness on a personal level,” she predicts, noting that “money is as much about heart as the head, so the ultimate goal is to have a very personal experience for each investor.”

Hathi said the work of her team springs from client input, and that she feels lucky to be at an organization that is so focused on clients. “I grew up in a family of small businesspeople who had that sense of purpose, which I always loved, but I didn’t know a large company could have it.”

— Evan Cooper