This Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor stepped out of her own comfort zone and is now helping other women do the same, building networks and empowering them to use their greatness.
The four-foot-tall bronze statue Fearless Girl has been sending a message of empowerment and love since she first stood her ground before the Charging Bull in March 2017. One month after that debut in lower Manhattan, across the country in Seattle, a beautifully framed photo of her was given to Sara Asatiani on her birthday by her “fabulous teammate Christie Davenport,” Sara recalls. It was a rough transitional period in Sara’s life, and that statue of a young brave girl became Sara’s source of power and strength.
“She’s very special to me,” says the Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor. “She is bold, stubborn and courageous—and represents the girl inside me who knew she was strong enough to get through this.”
Growing up the oldest of four sisters, Sara always loved math and “the idea of money balancing things.” She asked for a 10-key calculator for Christmas, wore business suits to play dress-up, and put price tags on her sister’s dolls so she could ring them up on the toy cash register. In high school, she was a great swimmer and basketball player but blew out her knee at 17, eliminating her chance at college sports. She took college business classes and got a job as a bank teller, which opened her world to finance. A respected senior male Financial Advisor in a corner office took note of her drive and suggested she take the Series 7 exam. Before she even graduated, “I became a licensed broker and could sell stocks!”
Sara became a young mom at 20, which she calls “the best decision ever,” as becoming a mother is like “becoming a CEO. You have to fearlessly lean in and lead.” It took her seven years but while raising her boys, she earned her degree in business, one of her proudest accomplishments.
In 2006, at 33, she took a leap of faith to become a Financial Advisor. Not long afterward did she notice how few other women were doing the same thing. An avid reader, it was Nobel Peace Prize Winner Leymah Gbowee’s Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer and Sex Changed a Nation at War and Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead that inspired Sara to launch Women in Wealth @ Morgan Stanley (W@MS) in 2013.
A next-generation employee networking group designed to “activate greatness for women at our Firm and in our communities” is how Sara describes W@MS. “We do so much to ensure women are educated, elevated and empowered to use their greatness in the world, to spend time creating transformational change,” she adds. “As Financial Advisors, we show clients and prospects what wealth can really do for them, which is to live, learn and love the life you design.”
She launched the very first chapter in Seattle. Now, with more than 45 chapters across the U.S., Sara’s heart is full of gratitude for the W@MS sisterhood of those who she realizes “have my back and are my champions.”
At 43, when Sara found her marriage coming apart, that support became even more evident. That October, during a trip to New York, Sara made a point to see Fearless Girl face to face. “I had a conversation with her, flew home, and filed for divorce after 25 years.”
To help her move through the painful transition, Sara, who is now a chartered retirement planning specialist (CRPS®) and a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA™), decided to do something physically challenging and “fell in love with tennis. It became my medicine, my hero, my new champion.” In fact, she traveled the next year to all four Grand Slam tournaments—the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in New York.
Three years into her transformational tennis journey, she still hits the courts most days with clients or friends and has a goal to be playing competitively at the 4.0 (or higher) level by the end of 2021. “All of us are athletes, whether we are exercising a physical muscle or our brain,” she explains. “Sports can remind us that we succeed, we fail, and we have to come back from our failures and activate our greatness.”
Recently named a Morgan Stanley MAKER, joining a group of trailblazing women of accomplishment nominated by their peers, Sara believes in the power of the “MAKERS movement to share our stories, listen and learn from each other, and collectively activate our greatness.” A big part of her story is staying true to herself and practicing self-love so she can “pursue her passion-driven W@MS mission to love on and be of service to others. My superpower is giving,” adds Sara, who thanks her parents for her “a heart of service,” developed through years of doing mission work in Mexico as a family.
Today, Fearless Girl remains just as special to Sara, who admires the statue’s photo on their Seattle office wall. In fact, Sara had the statue flown in and unveiled at the Leadership Summit in 2019 “to remind the Women at Morgan Stanley that they are fearless, amazing, and can do anything they believe they can.”