At only four years old, Yvette Wynn knew she wanted to be a banker. By the time she was 19, she had made that dream a reality.
It was 1989 when Yvette was still a grad student at New York University but had landed a job at the Bank of New York. She had already earned a degree in Business Administration in Finance from Pace University and was working on her masters in Economics at Fordham University, where she would also earn a master’s in Liberal Studies.
It’s no surprise that this ambitious “young turk”—as she and several colleagues were referred to at the bank—was able to achieve what she put her mind to. Growing up, she was always given a seat at the family table and encouraged to speak her mind. Her parents, as well as her grandmother, gave her a “strong sense of self” and the courage to not only step up for leadership roles but to have a voice—to speak up for herself, and on behalf of others.
“The older, wiser people I grew up with in my life helped to shape my world view,” she reflects. “I always had a lot of respect for them, found them easy to connect with, and never felt excluded. In fact, what I’ve learned from previous generations is thoughtfulness, patience and leadership – if you want to do something, you’ve got to be all in.”
Yvette grew up in the Bronx, N.Y., an only child of two social workers. Her mother worked in child welfare for the City of New York, and her father was a parole officer for the New York State Police. They taught her compassion for people, particularly those in challenging circumstances, and the importance of giving back. As a family, they were active in the church “ever since I was born, always volunteering and raising money for the homeless.”
A Banker by Age 19
At 19, not only was she working in her chosen field, but she had been named vice president of the church council. At her first council meeting, the president announced his retirement. She quickly learned how to lead—and stepped up by planning, running and following up on the outcome of every meeting. “It taught me so much, including how to stand up in front of the crowd,” she says.
As she excelled in her leadership role at church, she learned to leverage those skills on the job. It wasn’t long before she was promoted from a management trainee to an assistant branch manager then to branch manager and “had a great big office to myself!”
Yvette continued to excel at the bank, becoming a regional sales manager, relationship manager and a senior director over her 17 years there before taking a position with Morgan Stanley in 2010. A private banker serving Morgan Stanley's Wealth Management offices in New York and Connecticut, Yvette transitioned from a traditional bank environment to her wealth management banking role, helping Financial Advisors understand and access the banking products and services for their clients. “The culture was different, and my first few months were tough,” she says. They were so tough that “I thought my career was coming to an end,” she admits. “But a year later, I was promoted!”
Ever since, Yvette has embraced a new level of confidence, particularly now that she’s more comfortable being a woman of color in an industry that traditionally had been male dominated. “As a banker, I’ve been in rooms and wondered if I belonged,” she explains. “But I’ve learned to be confident that what I have to share is worth sharing. If you’re capable, knowledgeable, confident, people will want to do business with you. They want to do business with talented people.”
A Blended Corporate Culture
To help others build that same confidence, Yvette recently formed with colleagues Morgan Stanley’s Black and Latino Employees for Network and Development (BLEND) within the Private Banking Group, creating a “safe space” for employees of color to learn from each other. As part of its founding steering committee, “we hoped for 100 members; now we have 300,” she smiles. “It’s one of the things I’m most proud of in my career.”
For Yvette, being a part of BLEND is another opportunity to reach out to others to lend a hand—or an ear. “By offering a lifeline and making sure they’re okay, I hope they realize there’s someone who believes in their talent,” she says. Sometimes, she gives colleagues some “tough love. I can share my story of how I faced challenges in the beginning but still flourished after that. Whatever we are going through at the moment,” she adds, “it’s not a permanent state.”
Outside of the office, she continues to dedicate time to community and faith organizations, including the United Church of Christ (UCC), where she chairs the board. She is also Secretary on the board of Community Capital of New York. Yvette previously served on the board of the Westchester Estate Planning Council and as Treasurer of the Ivy Foundation of Suffolk Nassau Counties Inc. She is also active with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., where she served as a Graduate Advisor.
These efforts are among the many reasons she was named a Morgan Stanley MAKER, joining a group of trailblazing women of accomplishment nominated by their peers. Reflecting on the honor and how far she’s come, she shares this advice: “Don’t give up. Even if things don’t go the way you want, it doesn’t mean they won’t. You have to keep working at it. You have to finish—and finish strong.”