Morgan Stanley’s Warren Cohn helps athletes and entertainers plan for the time after the cheering stops.
Warren Cohn grew up playing and loving sports. From baseball in high school to both ice and roller hockey in college and for years beyond, Warren enjoyed the challenge, the competition and the combination of teamwork and individual accomplishment.
Today, he is a Financial Advisor for Athletes and Entertainers as part of the Morgan Stanley Global Sports & Entertainment division. Fewer than 100 of the firm’s more than 15,000 Financial Advisors have that designation. He is also an International Client Advisor as part of Morgan Stanley International Wealth Management. Working directly with the clients, and alongside their CPAs, business managers and agents, Warren serves the distinct needs of successful people in the sports and entertainment industries.
“The path to building wealth is diametrically opposite to most of the rest of the world,” said Warren. “While some entertainers might enjoy a lifetime of work and earnings, the fact is most athletes and entertainers experience a limited window for earnings, often occurring early on in their careers. My challenge, working on their behalf, is to focus them on long term planning, budgeting and smart conservative investing.”
His career path began with an interest in politics; in high school, he was elected as class president three times, became a national debate champion, and was recommended and selected for the Boys State program, in which students participate in the operation of local, county and state government, learning about the rights, privileges and responsibilities of citizens. He attended the regional event in Tallahassee before being selected as one of two from Florida to attend Boys Nation, providing him with an opportunity to meet President Reagan at the White House.
“It was an unforgettable experience,” said Warren. “It spurred me on to apply to George Washington University, to study political science and communications.”
Though he had planned to apply to law school afterwards, Warren’s interest in investing blossomed in college. As part of a stock market investment challenge competing against students at other colleges, Warren consistently finished near the very top.
“I think that is when I knew I had a calling on Wall Street,” said Warren. “After an internship my senior year at PaineWebber, I fell in love with the industry and never looked back. Instead of law school, I went back for an M.B.A. degree.“
But it was also during those college years George Washington University that Warren began his struggle with his sexual orientation.
“I knew I was gay but I was having a tough time accepting it for myself much less sharing it with others. Finally, when I accepted who I was, I came out to my friends and family.”
In fact, Warren’s story was chronicled in a book that featured dynamic and often triumphant profiles of gay athletes that are the teammates of all Americans. “Since that publication, and especially with the ability to be who I am, who I was meant to be, I’ve pursued being the best. I have no time or interest in second place.”
Warren contributes his time to causes he believes in, most recently as vice chairman of the board for the Trevor Project, a leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention, and as co-president of the California State Summer School for the Arts, a program for talented & motivated high school students.
“Today my sexuality doesn't define me any more than being straight defines most of my clients. I do my best to respect my community , stand up for what's right and help stamp out homophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, gender inequality and any sort of act of intolerance.”
It was Warren’s grandfather, Zadie, who helped him establish his inner compass. “He was my hero and teacher and he once said to me: 'Remember you come into the world and leave this world with only your name. Always make it stand for something good.’ That's guided my principles every day since,” Warren said.
Today, Warren and his husband live in Hollywood with two Labrador retrievers and he passionately works as part of a nine-person private wealth management team where, Warren says, his focus is always on the fundamentals, and always revolves around planning for “A-list celebrities and athletes, as well as emerging talent and rookies around the globe that are just beginning their road to greatness.”
Warren says he will forever recall a conversation he had several years ago with a rising young hip hop star. “We were having a financial planning session, so I asked him what his long term goals were, “said Warren. “He replied, 'my needs are simple, my wants are great. Help me achieve both and I'll be a friend for life.' That’s what I try to do every day.”