Touched by the power of the women in his life, MAKER Gerry Ferrante has a long history of supporting women in the workplace.
The Positive Female Forces in the Life of Gerry Ferrante
If there’s been one major force in the life and career of Gerald Ferrante, he’s proud to say that it’s women. “I’ve been touched by their power,” says the veteran Financial Advisor and Complex Manager at Morgan Stanley, recently named a Senior Advisor at the Firm.
In fact, throughout his 35-plus years at Morgan Stanley, Gerry never stopped harnessing that power—identifying their strengths and championing them for new opportunities. He reflects on a particular female Financial Advisor who started and was trained at the Firm in the mid-1980s. It was years later when he advocated for her to get “a shot at” managing some institutional accounts. The institutional manager listened, Gerry’s instincts proved correct, and his recruit eventually “became the Firm’s largest producer multiple years in a row,” beams Gerry.
Over the years, Gerry trained, supported, mentored, and advocated for numerous women Financial Advisors and managers, including Sharon Cunningham, a founder of the Her Way program. “She came to me with her vision, and I thought it was phenomenal,” Gerry says of the women’s education and empowerment initiative. “It’s really been a home run.”
In all his of life roles—as a son, brother, grandson, husband, father, friend, co-worker, manager, and leader—Gerry has felt the profound positive influence of women. Despite growing up in the diverse Canarsie borough of Brooklyn in the 1960s in a family of all boys, surrounded by his three brothers, teammates and friends, Gerry relished in watching women “change the world.”
“Don’t get me wrong—there are passionate men, and I’m one of them,” he says. “But women have incredible enthusiasm, empathy and strength.” He saw that in his grandmother and his mother. He saw that in his first wife, “one of the strongest people I've ever met,” who battled hard, but lost, her fight against ovarian cancer. And he sees it now, in his two adult daughters who together actively support women’s cancer research. In fact, Gerry was named Man of the Year in 2011 by the American Cancer Society.
Gerry also marvels at the strength of his wife of the past 20 years, Pam, and all she has given to him and his girls. Pam gave up her career to raise the girls and give Gerry the time to devote to his career. Without her, he says, “I would have never been able to achieve all that I have.”
Teacher and Coach
Perhaps his background in coaching and teaching have something to do with his ability to see potential in others and help them succeed. While attending SUNY Oneonta, Gerry coached the local high-school football team. After he graduated with a degree in history and economics, Gerry got a job as a history and social-studies teacher in a low-income area of eastern Long Island and coached the boys and the girls track teams. “I loved every minute of it but knew teaching wasn’t something I could do for the next 40 years.”
Contemplating other careers, even politics and law school, he ended up taking a skills and aptitude test that revealed he’d be good at sales—financial sales, to be precise!
While continuing to teach, Gerry got his licenses, then landed a position at Merrill Lynch in Westchester, N.Y. He eventually transitioned to Shearson (which later became part of Smith Barney and is now Morgan Stanley), became a top-producing Financial Advisor, then a Complex Manager in New York City, leading one of the Firm’s top-producing branches.
As Gerry steps into his Senior Advisor role and readies himself for retirement, he is proud to be recently named a MAKER, joining a group of trailblazers, mostly women, who have been nominated by their peers for their accomplishments. He acknowledges how well-suited women are to wealth management, calling them “a natural in the business,” especially when it comes to financial planning. “Women make unbelievable planners,” pointing to their “ability to nurture and organize.”
Looking ahead, he sees “a fascinating phase in my career during which I can give back and do the things I really enjoy doing.” He’ll support and help women, as he always has, and looks forward to finding new ways to do so. “Yes, I will get behind their causes and efforts,” he says, “but then I’ll get out of their way.”