This top Graystone Financial Advisor and MAKER makes a difference by guiding charitable entities and families in Chicago.
“You cannot be impactful in your professional work if you don't believe in what you're doing on a very personal level,” says Kristina Van Liew.
Kristina, one of Barron’s Top 30 Institutional Consultants and Top 1200 Financial Advisors, as well as a 2017 Morgan Stanley MAKER, co-leads a Chicago office of Graystone Consulting, The Stephans Van Liew & Oiler Group at Morgan Stanley. Her investment consulting group ranks among the largest practices of its kind within Morgan Stanley, with over $5 billion in assets under advisement. She draws on more than 28 years of experience in corporate banking, institutional investments and wealth management in advising her clients, which include foundations, university endowments, nonprofits and charitable families with complex wealth needs.
“My parents instilled in me this idea of channeling your gifts in way that allows you to give back,” she explains. “I am so grateful that my personal and professional paths overlap and each gives the other more relevance and meaning.”
Helping Kristina to be a better consultant is her experience as a not-for-profit board member, she says: “I know firsthand the struggles that these amazing charities face, the impact that they’re trying to generate in their communities and the powerful difference that providing the right guidance on the underlying investments can make helping those organizations do more with less.” She is a Life Director and past Chair of the Board of Executive Service Corps of Chicago, a former Board Director of the Aurora Civic Center Authority (Paramount Theatre), a member of the Board of Trustees of All Saints Catholic Academy, and a founding Board Member of iMentor Chicago, a program to help inner-city youth graduate high school and attend college. “We’re significantly changing the odds for these kids from first-generation families and helping them redefine the finish line,” she says.
For Kristina, who now is the first woman to chair the Advisory Board to Management for Graystone Consulting, being named a MAKER is a reflection of the firm’s culture—and affirmation of her decision to bring her practice to Morgan Stanley two years ago, allowing her to surround her clients with the right level of resources for their complex needs, including those related to mission-alignment and Impact Investing.
Kristina was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa. She graduated a year early from high school and, intrigued by international business, spent a school year living abroad in Normandy, France. “I felt a strong calling to understand the world around me,” she says. She returned to study finance and business at the University of Iowa, then was “lured into commercial banking and investments,” in Chicago, where she earned her MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management and remained ever since.
She is proud of those Iowa roots, though. “It’s a big part of who I am and what framed my lens into the world,” she said, giving credit to her mom, who was a strong role model as the office manager for the League of Women Voters of Iowa while Kristina was growing up. “She had me out there speaking on the Iowa State Capitol steps when I was just 10 years old, supporting the Equal Rights Amendment,” laughs Kristina, who has two sons, 20 and 22, and a 10-year-old daughter of her own.
Today she coaches young women to embrace who they are and their unique perspectives so they can hit their stride as soon as possible. “It wasn't until midway in my career that I realized being a woman was more of an asset, than a liability, and that I needed to embrace my unique way of connecting, listening, perceiving and processing information,” she says. “That's when I made the important transition from surviving to thriving, and working from a place of innate strength.”