• Women Financial Advisor Forum

NY Metro Region Hosts Event Aimed at Helping Women Advance their Careers

The LIFT network aims to advance women at the firm through coaching, networking, peer mentoring and recruiting.

LIFT, Women's Business Development Council, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

New York – At its inaugural event for the Women's Business Development Council, the New York Metro Region recently introduced LIFT, an advocacy and business development network whose mission is to “lift” all women at the firm through coaching, networking, peer mentoring and recruiting.

Held at Morgan Stanley’s New York headquarters, the event also introduced the officers of the Women’s Business Development Council, which had been operating without a formal governing body.

A key goal of the council is to demonstrate how Morgan Stanley is the best financial services firm for women.

“We’re focused on attracting and retaining the best talent, so getting the word out that this is the place for women to work makes my job a lot easier,” said Ralph Balzano, Director of the New York Metro Region, and the opening speaker at the event, which attracted over 110 women, many of them financial advisors.

Ralph Balzano, Director of the New York Metro Region, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

Balzano then turned the session over to the Council’s President, Susan Palmer, who introduced keynote speaker Shelley O'Connor, Managing Director, and now Co-Head of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. O’Connor noted that within 10 years, women are going to control most of this country’s household assets.

“We need to look like the communities and clients that we serve, or we’re going to miss business,” said O’Connor. “We clearly have a lot more to do in terms of retaining and getting more women to come into this business. What you’re doing from a grass roots effort is incredibly important.”

O’Connor then went on to talk about three key priorities for business growth: banking, digital and the next generation.

Shelley O'Connor, Managing Director, Head of Field Management, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

Shelley O'Connor, Managing Director, Co-Head of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, says women are going to control most of this country’s household assets within 10 years.

“Morgan Stanley’s Private Banking Group offers lending and cash management to complement our investment solutions and provide a huge opportunity to give advice on both sides of the client’s balance sheet,” she said. “If we’re not doing that business with our clients, somebody else will. Incorporating lending and cash management into the conversation with a client or prospect is something that I believe is a driver of growth in terms of how we engage with our clients long term. I think women understand that.”

Digital and the way we use it to interact with clients, O’Connor said, is going to become very important.

“In the next five to seven years, the way we interact is clearly going to change,” said O’Connor. “We’re already seeing it: people wanting to review a presentation on an iPad, or Skype with us rather than meeting in person. As we continue to develop digital enhancements for our advisors, that’s going to be accretive to building relationships with not just a single person in a family but with that whole multigenerational aspect that exists in almost every client relationship.”

That leads her into the third priority, building relationships with the next generation.

“An intergenerational transition of wealth is going to happen over the next 20 years or so in staggering numbers,” she noted. “We have to get in front of that, and one of the ways is through our digital capabilities, because that’s the way millennials interact.”

The rest of the event was divided into a series of sessions on the value of coaching, defining and refining your best practices, prospecting and pricing.

One of the highlights was the inspirational story of Cynthia DiBartolo, titled “Tigress in a Shark Tank.” She rose through the ranks of a male-dominated Wall Street and overcame oral cancer that forced her to learn how to talk and eat all over again. She couldn’t speak for two years. Today, she runs her own investment banking and brokerage firm, Tigress Financial Partners.

Cynthia DiBartolo talks about how she rose through the ranks of a male-dominated Wall Street and overcame oral cancer.

Cynthia DiBartolo, Tigress Financial Partners

DiBartolo pointed out some alarming numbers. “Between the years 2000 and 2010, 141,000 women had disappeared from the financial services industry while during that same period the ranks of men grew by 380,000, according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

According to Regional Business Development Manager Vincent Colucci, women are still under-represented in the financial services industry, but Morgan Stanley is working hard to change that by supporting events such as this.

“Between 47 and 55 percent of American households have a woman in charge of the finances,” said Colucci, as he closed the session.

Vincent Colucci, Regional Business Development Manager, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

Regional Business Development Manager Vincent Colucci closed the event, noting the entire industry is dealing with a lack of women.

“The entire industry is busy dealing with this challenge,” he said. “We want to make sure both experienced women financial advisors working for the competition – as well as those just graduating – know that Morgan Stanley is their best choice for a career in financial services.”

LIFT is an advocacy and business development network of Morgan Stanley women, dedicated to supporting peers to achieve business success and realize meaningful connections with their clients. Its goal is to “lift” all women at the firm through coaching, networking, peer mentoring, and recruiting activities.