Cindy Lane believes diversity at Morgan Stanley is an advantage not just for her but for the success of the Firm.
ATLANTA -- Cindy Lane believes diversity at Morgan Stanley is an advantage not just for her but for the success of the firm in general and that she helps drive diversity through active example inside the firm and outreach to causes and charities.
“I have never kept my personal life a secret,” she says. “I feel that just as I lead by example in my job, I must lead others to the understanding of the LGBTQ community by example.
“My entire 18 years with the firm, management has always accepted my desire to be open about who I am and in the one or two occasions a fellow employee was not so accepting, management jumped in immediately to correct the issues.”
Cindy has held several roles during her tenure at Morgan Stanley, training in new areas of wealth management at every step of her professional development. She now is a Portfolio Associate and Financial Planning Associate in Atlanta and for the last four years, also has been giving back as a diversity member of the Buckhead Complex Council. Moreover, she is a Complex Service Coach for new associates in the Atlanta area.
Cindy is Co-Chair of the Buckhead Council’s Sponsorship and Community division, coordinating volunteer and outreach efforts aimed at Atlanta’s diverse population. These activities help improve diversity within the firm by increasing employee and client engagement with diverse groups while also providing networking and recruitment opportunities in different communities.
The interest in these programs has grown steadily, making it important to address all audiences equally. Projects can range from food drives and serving dinner at homeless shelters to programs that assist women and military veterans in their return to work.
Developing a close relationship with a multicultural organization can be a great experience for a branch or complex and their clients, Cindy explains. She recommends focusing on quality over quantity, choosing just one organization per diversity group and fully developing the relationship.
She is especially proud of her work with the predominantly LGBTQ charity, For the Kid in All of Us, which has provided over 1,600 backpacks of school supplies to underprivileged children in the last three years.
Cindy is a vocal advocate of Morgan Stanley’s diversity efforts and believes raising awareness of the firm’s leadership in this area can boost recruiting.
In addition to promoting a diverse workforce, Cindy says it’s critical for Financial Advisors to understand the nuances of working with clients from diverse backgrounds. She has counseled Financial Advisors on how to communicate with LGBTQ clients throughout her career and says giving a positive representation of the firm by explaining Morgan Stanley’s diversity efforts is a good ice breaker that can overcome stereotypes.
“Many clients do not feel that discussing their personal lives is something a Financial Advisor needs to know. And some are just not open to that discussion,” Cindy says. “There can always be that fear that in the business relationship one could be treated differently if you do not have the same diverse viewpoints. This can cause issues if vital facts are left out of the financial planning discussion.”
Making clients comfortable, by demonstrating an understanding of their needs, or by inviting them to participate in diversity events that are of interest, is a good way to establish trust, Cindy adds. Morgan Stanley also has a catalog of LGBTQ marketing and advertising materials in the FA Marketing Center that she recommends.
Being a good listener is also critical, as Cindy learned firsthand from an early mentor.
“Desiree Fuehrer, currently a Complex Risk Officer for the Buckhead Complex, is one of the best managers I have ever had. When she came to our office as an operations manager, I sat directly outside her office and would listen to how she handled employees and clients.”
“How she handled people helped me to learn that listening not just to the words people say but the ones they don’t are the key to being successful in helping them.”
Having spent her entire career in the wealth management industry, Cindy has seen incredible progress in the acceptance of individuals from diverse backgrounds. She believes the inclusive environment promoted by Morgan Stanley and its employees makes the firm a great place to learn and grow as she has.
“The best thing I can tell you is find what things at work drive you and motivate you. Then pursue them at full throttle.”
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