Meet Sallie Behnke—working mother, mentor and Morgan Stanley MAKER. A lifelong learner, she believes in education and advancing others. This is the story of why she never gave up.
Growing up in St. Louis, Mo., and attending an all-girls high school, Sallie Behnke remembers her mother always encouraging her to follow her dreams. Her father, a business owner, taught her the value of hard work. Those invaluable lessons learned at home and in school inspired her to pursue her passions and developed her drive to achieve—regardless of her gender.
When Sallie arrived on campus at the University of Missouri as a freshman, she quickly realized the values instilled in her from high school would allow her to not only survive but thrive. She found herself more emboldened to share her thoughts and ideas with confidence than many of her female peers.
As an intern, while taking part in a five-year program to earn both her bachelor’s and master’s in accounting, Sallie discovered her passion for finance. She still remembers going back to college and telling her friends all about the principle of compounding. A Certified Public Accountant, Sallie worked for a few years as a tax consultant at Ernst & Young, where she counseled clients on personal financial matters, then made the transition to wealth management.
A Financial Advisor for more than 20 years now based in Dallas, Texas, Sallie says the favorite part of her job “is working with clients, many of whom are entrepreneurs and self-made individuals. I love hearing their stories about how they became successful. But just as importantly, I love hearing about their failures and how they overcame them. It’s really inspiring to me.”
Finding Inspiration in Family
Wynn, Sallie’s youngest son, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was 17 months old. Overnight, her life changed. She and her husband realized “it would take a village to take care of him.”
Camp Sweeney was a big part of that village. The mission of the Gainesville, Texas-based camp is to teach children how to deal with the highs and lows of diabetes, managing both the medical and emotional components. Wynn’s attending camp with a medical staff that could help take care of his needs 24/7 was a gift to their family, says Sallie. She and her husband are active fundraisers for the camp, which doesn’t turn any child away for financial reasons. From chairing an annual gala to hosting events at their home, their wish is “that magical experience for every child with Type 1.”
Sallie will tell you she’s proud of having balanced her career while raising her two sons. She is grateful she chose wealth management, which is a “great industry, particularly for women.” She smiles remembering the day she had a particularly important client meeting; her boys’ school had been canceled, and she was frantically driving them to their nanny’s house when Wynn said, “Oh Mom, why don’t you quit; this is too hard.” Immediately, before she could say anything, his brother Will, just six years old at the time, replied: “Oh no, Mommy can't retire. She loves this, and she’s so good at what she does.”
It all comes back to women advocating for themselves, to make sure that their value is seen.
Strong Women’s Advocate
Today, Sallie is known for being a strong advocate for the advancement of women, especially within the Firm, consistently mentoring others and sharing ideas to help them grow their practices. She sits on the board of Texas Wall Street Women and is a founding member of the Dallas Women’s Advisory Council at Morgan Stanley, which aims to make the Firm the best place for women investors, advisors and employees. “It all comes back to women advocating for themselves, to make sure that their value is seen,” she insists. “It’s also so important that we support each other in our careers. This council helps us do both.”
Recently named a Morgan Stanley MAKER, Sallie joins a distinguished group of women and men, all nominated by their peers for serving as advocates, groundbreakers and innovators for women’s advancement. Other recognitions include being named to the Forbes’ Best in State Wealth Advisors for the last several years as well as the Working Mother’s Top Wealth Advisor Moms, and the Dallas Business Journal’s 2015 40 Under 40.
To Sallie, being a MAKER means helping women get to where they want to be. The advice she offers any young person, especially women, is “to make sure you’re advocating for yourself from day one, that you’re voicing your opinion loud and clear. Also, make sure you are rewarded for the value you bring to the table.”
Sallie believes in education for career advancement and has gone on to get her Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA®) designation. She’s also earned the Family Wealth Director credential at Morgan Stanley, which “required dedication to the pursuance of being a lifelong learner.”
In fact, she advises others to “enjoy learning—and make sure you’re learning new things every day, because “that will keep you engaged and inspired.”