As Chief Operating Officer of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, Jed Finn often has to make tough decisions about budgets and strategies. When it comes to choosing a baseball team, however, the choice is easy.
“Red Sox—100 percent,” says Finn, a New Yorker who spent his childhood near Boston. “I could never root for the Yankees.”
As a dual citizen (his mother is Canadian), Finn went back to his roots for college, majoring in economics and computer science at McGill University in Montreal. After graduating at the height of the dotcom bubble, he joined a tech startup, then worked at a consulting firm before joining Morgan Stanley in 2011. Today, he uses the analytical skills he’s honed over the years to develop new ways to expand the firm’s Wealth Management offerings, as well as its client base, and to better synergize the business with the rest of the firm. From complicated regulatory changes to new technologies such as robo-advisors, the industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace, and, in turn, clients' needs are changing.
"There's a lot of opportunity for the firm, given the capabilities and the resources that we have, to do more for our clients and to be a better provider of solutions," he says. "The way we do that, and even the way we define wealth, has a lot of potential to grow and evolve."
Earlier this year, Finn added an additional role to his portfolio: head of a new group called Corporate and Institutional Solutions, which combines the businesses of administering stock, financial wellness and retirement plans for the employees of corporate clients with financial services that align with all stages of their career.
In the following interview, Finn shares some of his thoughts about his dual roles at the firm.
As COO of Wealth Management, I'm responsible for strategy and making sure that we're adhering to all the various regulations, as well as for working with [Head of Wealth Management] Andy Saperstein and the leadership team to optimize resource allocation in pursuit of our overall strategy. I'm also the Head of Corporate and Institutional Solutions, which is a new initiative that we launched earlier this year.
It has a few components to it. The overall offering is called Morgan Stanley at Work, which employs a B2B2C business model. It includes Shareworks by Morgan Stanley, our recently acquired company-stock-plan administrator, and also our retirement business. With these resources, our Financial Advisors are able to serve as consultants to thousands of companies regarding their retirement plans. And then there’s the Financial Wellness piece, which consists of a variety of things we deliver to the employees of our corporate clients to help them manage their budget and grow their nest egg. We also have our Morgan Stanley Virtual Advisor model, which allows employees to get financial advice over the phone and digitally.
I came to Morgan Stanley because I wanted to work on big problems that are impacting the wealth management industry. I enjoy a good challenge. Ultimately, what I find satisfying in a career is figuring out how to run a business more effectively.
I was convinced that Wealth Management was going to take off because we were coming out of a world where capital requirements were significantly higher than before. With a long-term bull market, wealth is increasing in the U.S., disproportionately at the higher end, and those folks tend to seek advice. I liked Wealth Management's positioning relative to other parts of financial services because it had a really attractive profile for the post-2009 regulatory regime.
I also believed that within this sphere, scale drives success and that Morgan Stanley would be formidable. I had a lot of respect for the firm, and I knew and respected the leadership team in particular. I knew that Morgan Stanley had the best prospects, so that's why I pulled the trigger.
No. My first job out of college was as a developer for a startup technology company based in New York.
That turned into more of a sales role, and I liked that a lot because I worked with companies for two weeks to two or three months, putting together a sample implementation and selling software. But I quickly realized that a lot of the problems we were trying to solve weren't technology-related—they were fundamental business problems. So I decided after three years to go to business school at MIT.
We have a very matrixed organization. There are a lot of people looking at a lot of different kinds of problems and providing their diverse views and perspectives to try to solve them. It's very rare that we do something or launch something without having considered every angle.
I would point to a few things. First, everybody should have their own view on what they think is right. If I say something and no one disagrees, I get a little concerned.
Second, people should be comfortable with making mistakes. Never make the same one more than once. But not getting it right the first time is totally fine.
Finally, success comes from working as a team. It's not about what any one person does on a project or who owns what piece of it. By doing those three things—pushing back, taking risks and thinking about where the team is going together—you can do well here.