Daniel DiBiasio, a Managing Director and former bond trader and private wealth advisor with an MBA from Wharton, has served in over a dozen roles in his 10 years at the firm, but one thing hasn’t changed since he got his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University’s Engineering School. “I'm still basically an engineer who likes to solve problems,” he says.
Case in point, Daniel’s favorite part of his current job is figuring out how to provide ultra-high-net-worth clients with broad offerings drawn from the array of resources at the firm. “I spend most of my time asking: How do we do things differently? How do we get more efficient?” he says. He even questions the questions: “How do I get people to ask the right questions?”
The game-changer in his quest for new solutions? “As technology and data and artificial intelligence evolve, we can rethink processes that have existed for a long time and try to solve problems that may have eluded us before. Can we do a little better?” he says. “That’s the fun part.” Read more about DiBiasio in the following interview.
What is your role at Morgan Stanley?
I’m the Co-Head of Family Office Resources and head of our ultra-high-net-worth strategy. My day job and afternoon job, if you will, is to oversee a group of subject-matter experts who help advisors deliver all the firm has to offer to their clients. We have expertise in areas that include trust and estate law, risk analytics, portfolio construction, philanthropy, family governance and family wealth education. These are skill sets that a wealthy client with a complicated situation needs. My Co-Head, David Bokman, mostly runs the day-to day. I do mostly long-term strategy. So I’m trying to figure out what the gaps are in our services, how to scale our services, how do we grow the business? Essentially, how do we re-engineer things in a way that helps the clients get more of our expertise?
What distinguishes Morgan Stanley as a place to work?
What I like about Morgan Stanley is that it is collegial. In a consensus-driven culture such as ours, it can often take a little longer to do something than one might think, but it results in more people opining, more people understanding, and more people having a shared mission. It's the old adage of go slow to go fast, and I think we embody that. We're playing the long game, thoughtfully.
What’s changed about the business?
In some respects, it hasn't changed. We still serve people and their families, and they have the same basic needs that they've always had. I think that life has just gotten a little more complicated, and you can define that from a technology perspective, a tax-law perspective, an investment perspective and even the pace of everyday life. But the sophistication and the scale at which you can address these things are also changing. So we have to evolve, along with the expectations of our clients, and deliver the customized solutions they need.
What do you like most about your job?
I often think of our jobs as being a little like a doctor. In one simplistic sense, operating on a shoulder should be something we can do very well. The hard part is getting to understand the uniqueness of the patient and making sure that we’re setting each one of them up for success in their long-term journey. That’s the challenging and rewarding part.
What advice would you have for a young person joining the firm?
Get to know people throughout the firm. We are a rather fluid organization, I think for all the right reasons, in terms of mobility, collaboration and capitalizing on one another’s skill sets. But it’s up to you to figure out how it all works and go out there and meet people. People are busy, but if you ask them for time, they are very willing to sit down and have a conversation. So I'd say to a junior person, don't wait to be invited to anything, go ahead and reach out.