Jennifer Westpfahl is recruiting a diverse generation of future Financial Advisors—and inspiring women along the way.
Moments after conducting a live interview with Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan before an audience of Wealth Management employees, Jennifer Westpfahl reflected on her role as Head of Financial Advisor Associate Sourcing and Selection, Chair of Morgan Stanley’s Women's Employee Network, and member of the firm’s National Diversity Council: “I'm blessed to work with a team of very dedicated, passionate and supportive colleagues who are pushing the women's initiative forward.”
The idea to host a discussion with Michelle was Jennifer’s, who believed employees would benefit from her story and message of persistence. “It's okay to fail, as long as you have the grit and tenacity to get back up and keep going,” says Jennifer, who mentors many employees, especially women, who sometimes “need the courage and confidence to continue fighting. I want to provide that support to the aspiring young females who will run the world someday.”
Jennifer, a 2017 Morgan Stanley MAKER, acquired that grit and tenacity growing up with two older brothers and moving every few years as her father’s career took the family from Minnesota, where she was born, to Texas, Iowa and Arkansas, where she went to college.
After graduating from the University of Central Arkansas, she took a sales assistant role with Lincoln Investment in Virginia, but that only got her halfway to New York, where she dreamed of working on Wall Street. She kept knocking on doors, quite literally, until one opened at Smith Barney. Since then, she has played integral roles in different geographies and departments at Morgan Stanley, always looking for the next challenge to help the organization achieve its goals and to grow personally—managing to find time for grad school at Pepperdine University, where she was awarded the George Award for Outstanding Executive MBA Student.
Today, she’s busy changing the face of Morgan Stanley, recruiting the next generation of Financial Advisors, hiring women and diverse candidates to better reflect—and serve—the firm’s client base. She finds millennials are attracted to the firm’s sustainable investing initiatives and commitment to giving back, which Jennifer does through not only her mentoring but as an advocate of several organizations such as 22Kill, which builds awareness of U.S. military veteran suicide. When a former classmate challenged her to do 22 pushups a day for 22 days, in honor of the 22 vets who will take their own lives in the next 24 hours, she realized she had “overlooked a huge issue in the United States affecting the very people who protect us.”
After her first 22 days, she turned to social media to challenge others in the hopes of raising awareness around saving veteran lives, dropping to do pushups every day for another year.
Humbled by being named a MAKER, Jennifer says she accepts the recognition on behalf of the women closest to her, not only her colleagues, but also her mother and grandmother, both college graduates who “paved the way for me,” she reflects. “You’re nominated by peers, which means people took the time to say I deserve this. There's no greater achievement in my career that I can point to, and I am very proud to be the one holding this up on behalf of the others around me.”