Much of the investment and planning work Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors perform is geared to improve their clients’ quality of life.
For the last six years, the Houston Women’s Advisory Council chapter of Women in Wealth has embraced this mission by hosting a signature event that addresses lifestyle topics important to women today.
“We consider them to be experiential rather than guidance on financial topics,” explains Gail Stalarow, a founding member and a principal with the Clarity Group in Houston. The Houston chapter is composed of 11 Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors in the greater Houston area. The council focuses on creating an experience that clients will remember and appreciate.
“Morgan Stanley is focused on the whole client; our approach to Modern Wealth Management is the best example of that,” said Erika Kelly, Regional Diversity Officer. We want our clients to think of us for all their needs, which not only includes financial planning and advice, but also for how they can live their best lives. It’s about taking care of yourself, your family, your friends, your community, and your finances. That’s why Mallika was a great choice for this year’s signature event.”
Mallika Chopra, the daughter of New Age guru and alternative medicine author Deepak Chopra, was the keynote speaker for this year’s event held in July. Mallika earned rave reviews from the sell-out audience of 240 people for her discussion on finding balance in everyday life through meditation and being intentional in everything you do. She emphasized that women should not feel guilty taking time for themselves.
The message resonated with clients in attendance, one of whom called Gail over the weekend following the keynote to remind her to heed Mallika’s message to “Be in the now, be present.”
The annual event highlights the efforts of the organization to celebrate and support women Financial Advisors in the Houston area and throughout Morgan Stanley. The event echoes a key mission of the Houston chapter to mentor other Financial Advisors and host networking events for female Financial Advisors from Morgan Stanley and other firms.
The event also provides an opportunity for clients to participate in a unique and intimate program on a topic relevant to their quality of life. A prior event, for example, featured a panel on Alzheimer’s disease that addressed the challenges of the disease from a woman’s perspective as a care giver and the role of long-term care insurance in planning for these challenging times.
“We hone in on areas where women position themselves differently,’’ says Gail. “We are empathetic, and that relates to how women want to receive financial guidance, bringing the emotional and financial together.”
The evening event, which features a dinner and lineup of women speakers, enables Morgan Stanley to differentiate itself in its appeal to and support of successful women professionals, small business owners and entrepreneurs. The party favors for the July event included “Morgan Stanley macaroons” baked by a local, woman-owned business.
Rachael Tobor, founding member and co-chair of the Houston chapter for the last six years, and also a member of the Clarity Group, points to the 2014 client event, which featured distance swimmer Diana Nyad as keynote speaker. Rachael mentioned Diana to other mothers at a school function prior to the event and learned that one had a masters swimmer friend who would be interested in attending. Rachael not only invited the friend but drove her to the event. She became a client the next month.
In addition, the bonds developed at these events can act to strengthen existing client relationships. “They can be very powerful,” Rachael says. “Year-round we have events that focus on markets and financial topics, this one is an experience. It’s that joint memory and experience that brings you together.”
Financial Advisor Nisha Modak had attended a prior event and was impressed with how the Houston chapter supported professional development for women in much the same way she did. Nisha was appointed to the Advisory Council in January and just this month became Co-Chair.
“The camaraderie of the female Financial Advisors and the energy and excitement in the room reinforce positive ideas about Morgan Stanley,’’ she says.
Gail concurs about the bigger message that the annual event sends to the Houston community. “We want clients to know that Morgan Stanley is a thought leader, not just in financial services,” she explains. “They may not expect what information or services we provide at this event, which demonstrates our commitment to the whole client.”