Marietta Hesdorffer has one big question for clients: “Are we talking about the real heart of the matter?”
You know it when you hear it— a statement that rings true. It’s one of the foundations of good financial planning. It goes beyond pie charts, graphs and numbers. It happens when someone sees, hears and feels not just what you are saying, but what you mean.
Being perceptive is second nature to Marietta Hesdorffer, one of Morgan Stanley’s 2018 class of MAKERS. As First Vice President, Financial Advisor and co-founder of the Hesdorffer Team at Morgan Stanley, her strong perceptive sense comes from three and a half decades of engaging with clients in ways that allow them to open up and talk about what they care about most.
“I always ask myself, ‘Are we talking about the real heart of the matter?’ says Marietta. People are often surprised by what surfaces when we simply ask “why?” We can address fears that are aired, and then establish a financial base on which their dreams can thrive. Without this understanding, no amount of financial planning or skillful wealth management will help our clients achieve their true goals.”
Asking questions that go to the heart of an issue has been a skill Marietta has honed for more than three decades. Right out of the University of Michigan - with degree in Radio, Television & Film and a Varsity Letter in Women’s Gymnastics - she landed at WFYR Radio as Editorial Director where her work earned the AP Best Editorial Award from Associated Press. When she pivoted from broadcasting to brokerage, she provided financial analysis and answered audience questions about personal finance on Chicago’s WCIU-TV for 17 years.
Thirty-one years ago, Marietta recruited her business partner and soon-to-be-husband, Jay Hesdorffer, from the accounting world and now more than 400 households* trust The Hesdorffer Team to help them take on their dreams and challenges.
“Trust is at the root of what we do,” says Marietta. “And, simply put, trust means confidence. I have confidence in our team, in their integrity and their abilities, and our clients trust us to make a positive impact in their lives.” The Hesdorffer Team, now four professionals strong, manages over $500 million in assets as of August 20, 2018, in a practice built one client at a time.
“When a recently retired CEO called to share his excitement about buying a new truck, we shared his enthusiasm and figured out how to get him a $750 refund through a Morgan Stanley partnership,” says Marietta. “When the parents of three kids realized they weren’t comfortable talking to their twentysomethings about money, we gave the family an “Investments 101” lesson, weaving in the benefits and responsibilities of managing money. And when a sophisticated senior client, who could manage complicated generation skipping strategies but couldn’t figure out how to get online, expressed frustration with her plight, the whole team made a house call. We wanted to give her the skills to be as savvy about navigating her accounts online as she was about her planning,” says Mar.
Making a positive impact in the lives of others also rings true for Marietta personally. A friend recently asked her, “What drives you?” The answer came quickly. “I rejoice in the success of others,” she replied. “Whoever has my focus: family, client, mentee or friend, I advocate for following your true calling to achieve your best life. In terms of our team, I believe our true calling is helping our clients realize their own form of greatness, whether it’s winning a tennis match, raising a family or running a company.”
Marietta also dedicates a lot of time to help make Morgan Stanley a better place. As Co-Chair of the National Diversity & Inclusion Council since 2016, she is committed to helping Morgan Stanley better reflect “the world in which we live and the clients whom we serve.” Mar is devoted to opening doors and creating an inclusive working environment where everyone can bring their best self. Working with the Council and Senior Management, she has been a force in creating initiatives in teaming, mentoring, recognition and inclusion. She consistently advocates for driving business through diversity and creating more tracks of success at the firm. “Mar is not afraid to roll up her sleeves and “get it done” with a spirit of concern and thoughtfulness,” says a colleague.
From her early broadcast days of communicating at large to her singular focus of really listening to clients’ most intimate concerns, Marietta and The Hesdorffer Team are woven tightly into the tapestries of their clients’ lives. Whether she’s mentoring high school students, counseling young adults starting out, reassuring busy families trying to juggle too much, or helping parents create lasting legacies, Marietta channels her considerable energy and empathy into empowering others to take their next steps with confidence.
That rings true.
MAKERS is a national program that identifies and celebrates women from a variety of fields. A panel of senior managers selected 17 women from nominations solicited from across the wealth management organization.
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* As of August 2018