Morgan Stanley
  • Women Financial Advisor Forum
  • Dec 6, 2019

New York Metro
Women Lead

Lisa Santo, Michelle Ward and Chapter Members Mentor, Coach and Recruit

Morgan Stanley’s New York Metro Women group, now in its fifth year, works to enhance women’s success at the firm with its  25 council members and over 100 participants.

“Our goal is to lift all women at the firm through coaching, networking, mentoring and recruiting activities,” explains Lisa Santo, its president and a founding member.

Lifting College Students

Three years ago, the New York Metro chapter launched its College Leadership Academy, a recruiting effort that brings in sophomores at local colleges for a “day in the life” of a wealth manager. At the same time it is educating these young women about wealth management as a career choice, the Firm is identifying potential interns. In fact, five interns were hired out of the first group of attendees, and several are now full-time employees. “It’s a wonderful way to introduce students to careers in wealth management, which is such a great industry for women,” says Lisa. “We want to inspire these young women as much as we want all women to support each other.”

Lifting the Disadvantaged

The New York Metro Women@MorganStanley chapter also makes a point to give back to the community. An annual volunteer event benefits Bottomless Closet, a non-profit that helps disadvantaged New York City women enter the workforce providing professional attire and accessories, as well as mentoring, resume help and workshops. “We help out each year with not only donations, but sorting, organizing and making phone calls,” says Lisa.

Lisa joined Morgan Stanley in November 2005 after a long career as a senior advisor at a woman-run boutique fixed-income firm. When she arrived at Morgan Stanley, women Financial Advisors were not as prevalent. She joined the firm’s diversity council and put together its first program for branch analysts, which offered them training and growth opportunities.

Lifting Peers

In additional to volunteer activities, the first year included an on-site gathering of more than 100 women from the northeast for a day of learning and networking. This highly attended meeting has morphed into an annual two-day interactive event. “We gather for breakfast and welcoming remarks, then enjoy panel discussions and breakout sessions on markets and various investment strategies,” says Lisa who was joined by Michelle Ward, an International Client Advisor as a leader of the chapter.

Born in Ecuador, Michelle moved to the U.S. in 2000 and began her career at Morgan Stanley in 2004 as a trainee. She built her business “one client at a time.” Today, she helps international families with the transfer of wealth between generations. “I really enjoy the flexibility and see the balance women bring to the table when it comes to helping families through what can be very emotional decisions,” she says.

Michelle plans to continue to build awareness around wealth management careers for women and offers this advice: “Don’t overthink an opportunity,” she says. “If it feels like the right thing to do, just go for it.”  That’s the spirit we love to see.