Morgan Stanley

Marybeth Emson, a Morgan Stanley MAKER, advocates for diversity across her industry, by mentoring others and leading the way at organizations including the APIC. Here is her story.

Senior Vice President and Financial Advisor Marybeth Emson is proud to have been named a Morgan Stanley Class of 2021 MAKER, joining a distinguished group of women and men of accomplishment, all nominated by their peers. “MAKERS are those who “see something that needs to be fixed and take the first steps toward a solution,” she says. “They do what needs to be done, not for self-promotion or any reason other than to simply help.”

While quick to praise others, Marybeth has been stepping up herself over the years to do just that. For starters, she has been striving to solve the need for more diversity in her industry. She consistently advocates for women not only at the Firm, through the FAME mentoring program, but through her involvement with industry organizations, including the Association of Professional Investment Consultants (APIC), a group created by advisors for advisors to share ideas and best practices. Marybeth has held several executive board positions, is a past president, and is co-chairing its 2022 national conference.

An APIC member since joining the Firm, Marybeth “wanted to make sure that the organization reflected the notion that no gender or race has a monopoly on good ideas,” she says. “So when I became president, it was really important to me that APIC show different faces and have different voices. APIC needed to be a leader in doing that.” Today, she is delighted that four of the past five APIC presidents have been women and that it continues to make strides in growing their women and minority membership levels. 

The Draw of D.C.

Growing up in New Jersey with a tight-knit, hard-working family, Marybeth intended to study international law in college. Her internship for New Jersey State Senator Bill Bradley in high school provided her first taste of the work of public service. “I came down to Washington, D.C., for a government workshop and got bit by the policy bug and the energy of Capitol Hill,” says Marybeth, who attended George Washington University (GWU).

Referring to her move to D.C. as one of her “most defining life moments,” she walked onto the women’s swim team and “built my support system.” (She also met her husband, a soccer player.) She shifted her major to business economics and public policy, which reflected her interest in the intersection of capitalism and public policy.

After graduating, she trained with and started her practice for a few years at another firm. When the first of her three children was born, she joined her family team, The Kelly Group at Morgan Stanley.

Now with Morgan Stanley for more than 25 years, Marybeth works with four family members across three generations. In addition to her father, she works with her brother, sister, and now her oldest son. The experience allows her and the team to provide insight into the generations of families that they now advise.

“I didn’t quite appreciate the dynamic of working with my father until my son joined the team,” she reflects. “I see the relationship we now have as colleagues, and I love it.” She also loves the joy it brings her father, knowing that she, her siblings and her son have “taken what he started and extended it even further.”

Named to Forbes’ 2021 America’s Top Women Wealth Advisors and Working Mother Magazine and Shook Research’s 2021 list of Top Wealth Advisor Moms, Marybeth also has earned the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) and Certified Investment Management Analyst® (CIMA®) designations from the Wharton School of Business.

Cultivating Economic Power

She leveraged her knowledge and skills to develop an innovative curriculum that teaches financial empowerment to young women at her alma mater. She tapped her daughter to provide insight into the questions and challenges that young women currently face. Today, she helps GWU students and athletes get a strong start in building wealth by teaching them how to budget, save and negotiate pay. “These are smart, hardworking women who needed a shot coming out of school,” she says of them being able to articulate their value.

Marybeth likes to use the phrase “cultivate your economic power” when she encourages women to harness their voices. Meanwhile, she continues to leverage her own voice on behalf of others. She makes a point to help women come out of change “into a better place,” whether it’s helping them through career, marital or other life shifts.

“The secret to my success is the fact that I know I’m not finished,” she says. “Yes, I want to be successful and I want my clients to be successful, but more importantly, I want to be impactful.”

What pushes her forward is knowing the value of diversity. “That’s the beauty I see in the world now,” she adds. “I see the value of different voices in conversations and am so excited to see that progress being made around the world and in Corporate America. Different voices,” she adds, “bring much better solutions.”

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The ranking of America’s Top Women Wealth Advisors, developed by Forbes’ partner SHOOK Research, is based on a ranking algorithm that includes telephone and in-person interviews, client retention, industry experience, review of compliance records, firm nominations; and quantitative criteria, including: assets under management and revenue generated for their firms. Investment performance is not a criterion because client objectives and risk tolerances vary, and advisors rarely have audited performance reports. Rankings are based on the opinions of SHOOK Research, LLC which does not receive compensation from the advisors or their firms in exchange for placement on a ranking. The rating may not be representative of any one client’s experience and is not indicative of the Financial Advisor’s future performance. Neither Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC nor its Financial Advisors or Private Wealth Advisors pays a fee to Forbes or SHOOK Research in exchange for the ranking. For the full list and more visit: