This young Morgan Stanley MAKER and Financial Advisor, who gets her fearlessness from her mother, is already well known as a mentor and advocate for Wall Street’s next generation.
Ara Talkov’s mother, Inga, was always independent and taught Ara to do things outside of her comfort zone. At 16, Inga and her best friend set out from their tiny town of Kelly, Wyo. (population 120), and drove alone across the country to visit colleges on the East Coast. Against all odds after attending a one-room schoolhouse in Wyoming, she landed at Harvard University, where she met Ara’s dad, Roger, a music-recording engineer at Berkeley School of Music at the time. Later, Inga attended Columbia Law School and became a law professor at New York University while Roger worked at the Hit Factory in Midtown Manhattan.
Eventually, the couple married and left New York to move to Roger’s hometown of Swampscott, Mass., to raise their family. Ara and her brother Ethan grew up near family and their grandparents—a support system that proved important given the demands of their mother’s job as a criminal defense attorney, for which she traveled often to New York and Wyoming. Still, Ara remembers how her parents always made it home for important things, like “every birthday and every game.”
With her highly accomplished mother as her main female role model, it’s no wonder Ara, a Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor, quickly became a mentor and advocate for the next generation of Wall Street. Even at the young age of 26, Ara has already made an impact on her colleagues.
“Having my mother as a role model has been so powerful,” says Ara. “She’s taught me what it means to be selfless and independent and to show up for other people.” For example, Ara points out that last year, a week after Inga had surgery for breast cancer, she got on a plane to visit her sister, who was going through her own chemotherapy.
Having my mother as a role model has been so powerful.
Ara’s drive and success extended to athletics. “It’s not about me—it’s about the team,” says the six-foot-tall Ara, whose “next-play mentality” helps her quickly move on from setbacks and focus on what’s ahead. She and her six-foot-eight brother Ethan, were often called the “twin towers.” Naturally, they were thrown into basketball early. In high school, Ara was captain of the varsity basketball team, then went on to play Division I at Columbia University and was team captain for two years. Ethan followed shortly behind to NYC to play volleyball at New York University.
“Attending Columbia was always a dream of mine, especially because my mom studied law there and I had long been in love with New York,” says Ara. “It’s what led me to both a great basketball career and my future career at Morgan Stanley.”
Ara was introduced to the Firm as a college junior, at the annual Women’s Sports Foundation Athlete Leadership Connection, which invites collegiate and Olympic athletes to explore “life after sport.” At the conference, she was inspired by speakers including Billy Jean King, Condoleezza Rice and Bonnie St. John. Interested in finance, Ara got to meet with the Firm’s New York Metro Regional Diversity Officer, who encouraged her to apply to the Branch Analyst Program. At 22, she became a Branch Analyst in the 399 Park Avenue complex.
Still, transitioning into the working world was a bit of an adjustment for Ara, who admits that with the early rigors of learning the business, she “had lost a sense of team and wanted that back.” She regained it upon being introduced to Team IMPACT, a national nonprofit that connects college athletes with chronically or terminally ill children. This program really hit home for her as a former student athlete, and she wanted to get involved. The Boston-based nonprofit was looking to expand into New York. Ara told the board, “You need me on your team, because I’m going to help you make a difference and an impact in the New York area.”
Ara’s team puts on fundraisers, helps with local volunteer events, and this year connected the effort with The Equity Collective, a new Morgan Stanley program that partners with 27 different wealth- and asset-management firms to educate, empower and develop the next generation of diverse industry leaders.
Well-respected for her work ethic, confidence, creativity and drive to help others, by 2019 she was welcomed as a Financial Advisor Associate on The Guimarin Shephard Tan Group, a bicoastal wealth management team at Morgan Stanley. Ara focuses on creating customized wealth management solutions for families, individuals and stock plan participants. She’s a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), an Insurance Planning Director, and a Workplace Advisor concentrating on equity compensation. She considers herself a financial coach, and the goal-oriented mentality she learned from basketball is something she looks to instill in her clients when it comes to planning for their financial future.
You need me on your team, because I’m going to help you make a difference and an impact in the New York area.
Excellence in Diversity through Growth and Empowerment (EDGE) is a program Ara co-founded at Morgan Stanley—to give new diverse Financial Advisor Associates a sense of community and “an edge in the business.” EDGE is a grassroots effort run by Financial Advisor Associates for Financial Advisor Associates that looks to provide educational content and coaching with the goal of increased advisor retention and success.
She is also on the mentoring committee for LIFT—Ladies in Finance Together, the New York chapter of Women in Wealth, one of Morgan Stanley’s employee networks. In addition, she’s back volunteering with the Women’s Sports Foundation Athlete Leadership Connection, sits on the Columbia Women’s Basketball Alumni Advisory Committee and is Vice President of the Columbia Athletics Finance Society.
To help further pay it forward with the next generation, she started a program in her branch called 399 Park Student Day, an introduction to wealth management for college students, that has now been adopted by branch management. She’s happy to look at anyone’s resume, edit it and help attendees explore opportunities within Morgan Stanley. “I am so honored to have seen that process through for so many students,” Ara beams. “I’m passionate about recruiting and bringing talent to the Firm. I like knowing that I played even a small part in someone’s journey at Morgan Stanley.”
In 2022, Ara was named to Morgan Stanley’s Pacesetter’s Club for demonstrating the highest professional standards and first-class client service as an early-stage Financial Advisor. She was named a 2022 MAKER, joining a distinguished group of women and men, all nominated by their peers for serving as advocates, groundbreakers and innovators for women’s advancement. She is the youngest MAKER since the program’s inception in 2014.
Being recognized for her abilities so early in her career is something Ara does not take lightly and attributes, in part, to her confidence. “It takes a lot of courage to be the youngest person in the room in this business,” says Ara. “You must be fearless to walk in and face mostly 50-plus-year-old men and know that you belong.” She is grateful to never have been doubted because of her age. Ara’s intensity and fearlessness is tempered by her recognition of her own strengths and weaknesses. She lets everyone know, including clients, that if she doesn’t have the answer, she “will find it.” Her sense of team and commitment to others and their end goals are the key ingredients to her rise at Morgan Stanley and will be instrumental in her future successes.