Brianna Perez doesn’t take no for an answer and isn’t afraid to “ask the question.” As her father always says, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Her forthright questioning is how she landed her role at Morgan Stanley.
If there’s one piece of advice Brianna Perez could share with colleagues of her generation, it’s something her father always said to her: “Don’t be afraid to ask the question; what’s the worst that can happen?”
Asking “the question” turned out to be how she landed a dream job in wealth management—and at her dream firm of Morgan Stanley, where she is an Assistant Vice President focusing on Content Distribution Strategy & Client Segmentation for the Wealth Management Global Investment Office (GIO).
Brianna grew up in a small town in Queens, N.Y., with her parents, younger brother and grandmother, the “people I lean on for everything and the ones who propel me forward.” Brianna learned patience and kindness by watching her family raise her younger brother, who is deaf in both ears. “Growing up with him watching my every move, looking up to me as the older sister, I knew I had to be a better person for him.”
In her college search, at first thinking she wanted to teach the hearing-impaired, she discovered Baruch, a CUNY college in midtown Manhattan well known for business and finance. With a knack for math and critical thinking, she decided to try her hand at finance and realized how much she liked it, especially learning to budget and how to help people save for their futures.
With her sights set on a job in wealth management—and only at Morgan Stanley, after learning they are “the best in the business”—Brianna talked with her school’s Financial Leadership Program director, who told her recruiting at Morgan Stanley was over. Not taking no for an answer, Brianna applied anyway. She had a first-round phone interview and then was accepted into the firm’s Inside Access Program, a two-day program for leaders on college campuses. The first day centered on learning about the industry; the second day offered interview opportunities for internships. When she was selected to interview for Institutional Equity and Fixed Income, she took a big risk and respectfully declined the invitation, stating that she had applied for Wealth Management.
Brianna was delighted to be re-extended the invitation to interview for the division of her choosing. After interviewing, she was offered a Wealth Management summer internship and got a full-time job offer at the end of it.
Upon graduation with a bachelor’s in finance and a minor in psychology with an emphasis on workplace diversity, she started in the two-year Wealth Management Rotational Analyst Program, working in three different departments for eight months each. “I discovered what I liked and didn’t like, the type of manager I wanted to work for, and the type of team I wanted to be on,” says Brianna. “Mobility is highly encouraged, and you can do whatever you want to if you set your mind to it. This program gives you a taste of that.”
In August 2021, at the conclusion of her rotational analyst experience, Brianna returned to the GIO, where every day she’s comfortable “wearing my heart on my sleeve,” never afraid to speak up. She loves working with partners across wealth management to promote thought leadership across advisor and workplace channels, making sure that “we’re matching the right content to the right client segments. GIO’s work helps advisors showcase the firm’s strengths and grow their practices,” explains Brianna, who enjoys coming up with innovative ways to share content and partnering with her colleagues in other business areas on these ideas. Her ability to ask questions about our different business models helps her continue to grow. “If you never ask the question, you’ll never get the answer,” Brianna reminds.
If you never ask the question, you’ll never get the answer.
Brianna shows up often to actively support other women, both in and outside the firm. As a member of the Financial Women’s Association (FWA), she is a member of the Financial Backpack Committee, where she teaches financial literacy to high-school and college students, including saving, budgeting and investing. She was also the organization’s Chair of Signature Events and led yearly fundraising events to support the FWA’s educational programs.
Within Morgan Stanley, she’s a part of the Women in Wealth Employee Networking Group, serving on its External Affairs Committee, whose goals, she explains are to “partner with external organizations to further D&I initiatives, spread awareness of events outside of Morgan Stanley that can impact our members, and generally promote D&I and highlight intersectionality within Women in Wealth.”
The fact that the firm celebrates women is among the many reasons Brianna is proud to work at Morgan Stanley, citing its networking resources, generous time off for family-building, and benefits that help cover the costs of birth, adoption, surrogacy and fertility services, something Brianna says she could end up needing down the road given her polycystic ovary syndrome diagnosis.
“Morgan Stanley is absolutely the firm of choice for women,” insists Brianna, honored to have been recently named a MAKER, joining a community of advocates, innovators and groundbreakers for women’s advancement, all nominated by their peers. She’s humbled to be among the firm’s MAKERS Class of 2023, which marks the program’s 10th anniversary, and to be recognized as a rising star, someone with whom “younger women can identify.”
Being a MAKER—and currently the youngest one in the history of the firm’s program—“means everything” to Brianna. “It’s amazing to be recognized among strong women who push boundaries and break glass ceilings for the benefit of the next generation.”
To help those coming up behind her, Brianna has been a consistent mentor for summer interns and finds herself naturally bonding with the incoming rotational analysts. “I’m extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to go through the program, supported by three class directors who know me better than I know myself,” she reflects. She considers her class directors to be her “three pillars of strength” and knows she “wouldn’t be where I am today without them.” She advises other Wealth Management summer interns and rotational analysts to build similarly strong personal relationships to help them “navigate the opportunities.”
Brianna is also active in recruiting efforts for wealth management. From being on the Baruch College recruiting team, a mentor for the firm’s diversity programs, a resume reviewer, and a “Super Day” interviewer, she wants to be involved in the next generation and “can’t help but say yes, every time,” she admits. Brianna raises her hand for other volunteer opportunities, such as Morgan Stanley’s ScopeAthon, a half-day pro-bono event in which Morgan Stanley employees leverage their professional expertise to diagnose and address challenges facing nonprofit organizations.
Always bringing a smile to others and finding ways to add fun and build culture, it’s no surprise to hear Lisa Shalett, Wealth Management Chief Investment Officer and Head of the Global Investment Office, refer to Brianna as the “ambassador of fun” at one of the department’s town halls, where Brianna hosted the GIO’s version of Jeopardy.
Looking ahead, Brianna sees a bright yet undefined future, and that’s okay, she says. “There are so many growth opportunities and ways for me to develop into a better version of myself. As long as I keep doing what I’m doing, the future’s going to be amazing.”