• Multicultural Financial Advisor Forum

Gillian Yu Builds Business with Global Clients

Near or far, Gillian Yu's clients have one thing in common: Yu speaks their language – literally. Her keen understanding of global markets and family dynamics makes her approach to wealth management unique.

Gillian Yu, one of Barron’s Top 100 Women Financial Advisors and a Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Advisor, listens to her clients, as do all good Financial Advisors. 

The Gillian Yu difference?  She listens in English, Mandarin and Taiwanese.  

“More than just speaking the same language, though, I feel I understand the cultures of my clients,” Gillian says. “I know their families.”

Today, she has built a business with $3.5 billion in assets under management for around 35 ultra-high net worth families. But she began her career the way most Financial Advisors do— starting small and with just a few clients.

Her first clients were Asian ex-pats in San Francisco. They had come to the United States for education and more opportunities.

But they would not stay “small” for long. The timing was such that Gillian was well-positioned to help these clients at a particular turning point in world economies. When the Asian economy took off in the early 2000s, some of her clients returned to Asia, started businesses there, and prospered. 

Still, they did not want to leave the United States. Far from it, these clients wanted to raise and educate their families here and keep the bulk of their wealth in US-based investments.

“The U.S. markets control almost half of the world’s capital with more investment choices and greater transparency,” Gillian explains. “Many of my clients feel more secure having their long-term assets here.”

The complex variables presented by such complex clients are a challenge.  For example, Gillian often has a client who lives in Asia but has wealth invested globally with significant sums in the United States. Members of the family live stateside but family philanthropies exist both in the US and Asia.

Designing wealth management approaches that allow for all these moving parts requires an understanding of both international financial regulations and the subtle cultural issues at play within the Asian family dynamic.    

Gillian, who is a Managing Director with Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, has an extensive background that helps her with such challenges.  She was born and raised in Taiwan, and earned an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley.

“The big challenge often is family dynamics,” Gillian says.

So, she often taps into the resources of Morgan Stanley’s Lifestyle Advisory service and sometimes designs curriculums around family needs and aspirations for the children.1

“We can cover all of the basics, from credit cards, investments, asset allocation and trust concepts to insurance,” she says.2

Gillian often makes a personal connection with the younger generation. “They email me directly now with any questions they have,” she says.

Gillian also likes to serve as a resource for other Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors who have Asian clients with cross-border concerns.