Ram Ahluwalia

Year of Graduation: 
Ram Ahluwalia

“If you want to create impact, it’s not about service to yourself, it’s about service to others."

To many of us, the cryptocurrency industry can seem like an impenetrable maze of acronyms and unfamiliar terms — NFTs, hashrate, stablecoin, Web3 — too confusing and untested to even consider when it comes to financial planning. But to Ram Ahluwalia ’97, crypto is a brave new world with tremendous potential to increase consumer freedom, trust and transparency compared with traditional banking.

Unlike traditional currencies, which are typically tied to a government’s central banking system, crypto is managed by a global network of thousands of computers, with transactions recorded on a shared digital ledger known as a blockchain. “It’s a novel form to manage, represent and exchange value,” Ahluwalia says. “We’re still early in that, but the ability to secure your rights, my rights, through cryptography on a blockchain that doesn’t require intermediation is transformative.”

As co-founder of Lumida Wealth Management, an independent financial advisory firm with a focus on alternative investments, Ahluwalia sees digital assets (aka crypto) as an important way to help his clients pursue their goals and improve their overall financial wellness. A frequent guest on industry podcasts, he provides a calm, erudite voice seeking to interpret, reassure and help people navigate the tumultuous and ever-evolving world of crypto.

Ahluwalia credits his four years at Exeter with both humbling and inspiring him, from the Cs he got in French his prep year (he won a French prize as a senior); to studying Buddhism and philosophy with Emeritus Religion Instructor Peter Vorkink; to soul-searching late-night conversations with his dormmates in Abbot Hall. As manager of dorm grill, he innovated by buying smoothie ingredients at Costco and selling Andolini’s pizza by the slice to fellow students. “It wasn’t even about the money,” Ahluwalia says. “It was the satisfaction of being able to service others, create something of value and improve upon what was already there.”

He majored in philosophy and economics at Columbia University, then worked on Wall Street in management consulting and spent more than a decade at Merrill Lynch. In 2011, he founded his first asset management firm, Winged Foot Capital. He started the data and risk analytics firm PeerIQ three years later. “I always had the entrepreneurial energy and drive and was always building businesses, either as my main job or as a side hustle,” Ahluwalia says.

After Cross River Bank acquired PeerIQ in 2021, Ahluwalia co-founded Lumida. Ahluwalia describes his new company’s approach to investing as “endowment style,” with an emphasis on alternative investments like distressed commercial real estate, biotech — and digital assets. Ahluwalia stresses that crypto is still relatively new and acknowledges the pressing need for more regulatory clarity. But it’s an important tool when it comes to guiding his clients. “People’s long-term goals are incredibly meaningful to them … their own livelihood, their kids and their philanthropy,” he says. “It’s deeply rewarding when you can help someone achieve their goals.”

But his most important role, Ahluwalia says, is being a parent to his three young children. “It’s a duty, and a special responsibility,” he says. “If you want to create impact, it’s not about service to yourself, it’s about service to others. That starts with your family, and then you send it out to your community and radiate it through your profession as well.”

— Sarah Pruitt '97

Editor's note: This profile first appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.