At Morgan Stanley, Jim Tracy Creates Leaders from Doers

Jim Tracy has a knack for creating leaders from doers. “When you have that lens, you realize quickly that talent has no bias—no age, no gender, no race,” explains the head of Morgan Stanley’s Consulting Group and Advanced Advisor Development.

For over 30 years, Jim has been building teams at the firm, and he has observed that many of the key projects and important initiatives have very strong and talented professional women as key contributors to successful execution, essentially the driving forces behind getting things done right. “They are the doers, but not necessarily always the leaders.” Jim believes that it is his job to identify doers and develop them into leaders. “If you want to run a successful business and attract the most talented women to be on your team, then you must foster an environment where your most talented women are put in leadership positions, visible to all, and demonstrating success that inspires and motivates others to achieve.”

Jim knows something about strong women. When he was 16, his father passed away suddenly of a heart attack, leaving his mother alone to raise five children. “My mom had the most impact on my life. Watching her guide and lead our family through this tragedy left a lasting impression. She immediately went from a non-working spouse responsible for running the household, to a professional woman working multiple jobs, and doing everything she could to care for her kids.” Backing up his mom Eileen were three nurturing sisters and an equally strong brother. Working together, the family got stronger and remains incredibly connected today. “None of that could have happened if my mom wasn’t a strong and inspiring woman.”

Jim grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and moved to Ohio at age 12. Sports were always a passion of his and he was a three-sport athlete in high school and went on to be a collegiate all-American in baseball at Marietta College, not far from his home to stay connected to the family. During college, Jim took on investing as a hobby and developed a keen interested in the stock market. That ultimately led him to pursue a career in financial services. He landed 30 years ago at Morgan Stanley, where he has excelled in many roles. He was a Financial Advisor, Sales Manager, Branch Manager, Regional Director and today is responsible for not only the firm’s $1.1 trillion managed account business, but also Practice Management and Advisor Development. “I am passionate about both of those businesses because they bring me closer to advisors and clients, the lifeblood of our business.”

Colleagues see Jim as highly competitive, innovative, trustworthy, and loyal - all attributes that he believes helped shape his focus on building diverse teams. “I like to win, I like to execute, and I like to exceed expectations. To do that, I need to build the strongest team possible. That’s why many women have excelled in my organization. They were the best choice for the job, and all are incredible contributors to our team’s success. But it is not just about finding talent; it’s about developing talent. Too often talented people fail because they have leadership gaps, blind spots, or other shortcomings…that’s where talent development and mentorship come in. It’s my responsibility to coach and help them evolve.”

Jim remembers how male-dominated the industry once was, especially in the visible leadership roles. “We have progressed as an industry, but it’s not enough. We need to evolve more quickly. We need many others to do their part and own better outcomes.”

That’s part of the reason why Jim loves the mentoring aspect of his job. “At this stage of my career, I have gotten so much from what others have given me, both men and women. I would not be successful today without the actions of my team,” he adds. “Mentoring is my way of giving back. Developing men and women without bias is not a deliberate act; it’s a leader’s responsibility.”

For these efforts, Jim recently was named a Morgan Stanley MAKER MEN after being nominated by his peers and others that have been influenced by coaching.

It doesn’t end there with Jim. Four other very important influences in his life are his wife Joey, daughter Lauren, son JJ, and daughter Jamison. “Their future successes and opportunities in life will be impacted by the actions of others today,” he says. “They should have a chance to evolve in a world of fairness, respect, and meritocracy. I need to do my part.”