Morgan Stanley
  • Multicultural Financial Advisor Forum
  • Oct 14, 2020

Ileana Musa: On Hispanic Growth

Ileana Musa supports an ecosystem where Hispanic- Latino professionals are given the support needed to lead at every level.

Hispanic Heritage Month means many different things to many different people. Celebrating both the shared experiences and intersectional differences within the Hispanic American community, Hispanic Heritage Month is a time of expression and connectivity through art, dance, cuisine, music and literature. Equally important, it serves as a reminder that the Latino segment has significant financial impact to the U.S. economy.

In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau counted 52 million Hispanic Americans in our country, equating to 16.7% of the total population. By 2050, that number is projected to nearly double, reaching 132.8 million Hispanic Americans, or 30.2% of the population. If it were an independent country, the Latino GDP of 2.6 trillion, would be eighth largest in the world. As Co-Head of International Wealth Management and Head of International Banking & Lending at Morgan Stanley, I see the immeasurable impact of not only helping families across diverse communities, especially Hispanic-Latino communities, plan for their financial futures, but also building an ecosystem where Hispanic- Latino professionals are represented and given the support and sponsorship needed to lead at every level of the organization.

As a Cuban American refugee who came to the U.S. as a child with my mother and siblings, I believe it’s not just important for Latin culture to be celebrated once a year — it’s imperative to recognize and integrate the unique perspectives and financial contribution of this cohort.

My position at Morgan Stanley gives me a unique platform to speak with professionals who are either starting out in their careers or long-established industry leaders in finance and beyond. At conferences, within partnerships, and even through casual interactions, I encounter people whose personal backgrounds are similar to mine. It’s always been my goal to help Hispanic-Latinos reach their goals in half the time I reached mine. Whether in a formal meeting or a 10-minute conversation, I find myself doling out similar advice: Build and mobilize your network. Find not only mentors who will advise, but earn the trust of sponsors who will advocate. Build a strong track record and ask for support, opportunities, and stretch assignments.  

I also encourage advice-seekers to explore their value beyond their resumes, to lean into their personal stories. It’s vital for everyone — but especially those who are starting out — to be aware of and able to access the “why” behind their drive. The ability to talk about their experiences and explain their ingrained values are priceless assets to anyone seeking success.

I recently had the privilege of joining the board of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, a partner of Morgan Stanley. Growing up in a tight-knit Cuban neighborhood, I didn’t dream of leaving my family to go on an overnight camping trip (unless it was with my entire family). Instead, my siblings and I kept busy with school, work, after-school activities and sending care packages to our family in Cuba. Mom taught us that success meant striving for excellence in school, at home and in our community; doing things for others, thinking beyond ourselves.

Partnering with the Girl Scouts team has opened my eyes to the importance of bringing a lifetime of leadership, adventure and success to Latinas — and bringing a sense of family to the organization. I’m thrilled to play a role in advancing the movement, financial literacy and empowerment, to impart a sense of economic drive and offer ideas for how to save and invest for the long-term. That knowledge leads to better choices.

Thankfully, I’m not alone in my efforts. Morgan Stanley has a proud history of leading the way in diversity with the financial sector, serving as an unwavering advocate within Hispanic-Latinos and other communities. As part of our commitment to educating and recruiting financial advisor associates and branch analysts of Hispanic-Latino backgrounds, we have a long-standing relationship with the Association of Latino Professionals for America and partner with education advocacy-based organizations such as Latino U College Access and A Better Chance.

This month, we also launch our first Latin X Leaders Forum, This community will bring together leaders from across Wealth Management to network, engage in relevant industry conferences, access targeted professional development and create on-going actions that will strengthen our culture of inclusion.

Morgan Stanley has also been a main sponsor of the L’ATTITUDE conference since the multi-day event’s inception to promote the New Mainstream Economy. We’ve offered complimentary one-on-one financial coaching sessions and hosted several mainstage segments on the Evolving U.S. Consumer Wallet and Why Latino Growth Matters and how Latinas are Creating Wealth.  

I’m incredibly proud to work for an organization that values, honors and actively seeks diversity in so many meaningful ways. At Morgan Stanley, Hispanic Heritage Month isn’t just about looking back. It’s about looking around, looking forward and unleashing the power of Hispanic-Latinos year-round.