Born and raised in Brazil, as the child of two doctors, JP grew up speaking four languages. “Portuguese, English, French, and Spanish,” he says, adding, “I also speak a bit of Mandarin.” Encouraged by his parents to find his own path—two doctors in the family were plenty, they joked—he thought one day he might put his affinity for languages to good use as a diplomat. However, when he came to the U.S. to attend Yale University, he discovered an interest in a different kind of language, the language of economics.
When asked what drew him to economics, JP says he “liked the idea of explaining people's behaviors based on the constraints they face.” International trade and development was a particular interest, and he wrote his senior thesis on whether Brazil should exit a trade bloc with Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. “I started thinking about trying to give back to my country through economic empowerment, and what I realized is that you need the experience in the private sector in order to be successful in the development sector.”
Today, JP is a Field Strategy Vice President supporting almost 16,000 Financial Advisors who oversee approximately $2.6 trillion combined in client assets. In many ways, his role allows him to function like a diplomat after all. “To be successful in this role, you need to understand what motivates the people sitting across the table from you.”
I was born and raised in Brazil but I was always interested in studying abroad. I applied to Yale with the belief that an education in the United States would offer more opportunities for critical thinking.
In terms of work experience, I interned the summer after my freshman year for a bank, in the strategic planning department. The summer after my sophomore year, I interned at a consulting firm in Brazil. By my junior year, I still didn't know exactly what I wanted to do. But I knew I wanted to work with smart people who challenged me.
You joined Morgan Stanley after college in 2016 and have been with Wealth Management ever since. What was your first job like?
I started out in the Wealth Management analyst program, doing three eight-month rotations across a variety of areas. In my case, I worked in Wealth Management Research, Business Development Strategy & Analytics for our Advisory Business, as well as International Wealth Management.
To be honest, my first day at Morgan Stanley was a little bit overwhelming. There were a couple hundred people in the room, as all the analysts from across the firm start on the same day. But I started meeting my fellow analysts and could clearly see the diversity of background and thought each of them brought to the table. There were people from all over the country and the world—finance majors, statistics majors, even people who studied theater and creative writing. That’s what makes this place unique. I thought that then and still believe that now. Morgan Stanley really creates and fosters an environment where everyone can be their authentic self.
The easiest way to explain my day job is to explain how Wealth Management is structured. There are two sides of the house, Wealth Management Field and Wealth Management Home Office.
The Field is made up of about 16,000 Financial Advisors, 8,000 or so Client Service Associates, and the local management teams. They’re responsible for things like managing client relationships or overseeing those who manage the relationships, and identifying prospective clients. Home Office is responsible for running the business and enabling the Financial Advisors to best service our clients.
My role sits within Field Strategy, a team that reports into the head of the Field and whose function is to come up with strategic priorities and execute them in a business that has over 20,000 people. Much of our work involves strategic planning, human capital management and how Morgan Stanley, a large multifaceted organization, approaches change management. No two days are the same, which makes it a really dynamic environment.
I have a travel bug and I’m constantly looking for places or activities that are a bit off the beaten path. Most recently I went scuba diving in Fiji.
I also find it important to give back and spend a good amount of my free time doing so. I’m a class director for the Yale Alumni Fund, which means I’m the annoying person calling fellow Bulldogs asking them to donate so that less fortunate students can have the same education we did. I'm also on the junior board of Partnership with Children, an organization which helps ease the cognitive effects of trauma on New York City children by placing highly trained social workers in public schools.
During my second rotation in the Wealth Management Analyst Program, we had a sales support desk that was very operational in nature. We were about to undergo a major technological transformation, so it was important to get the service model right. My boss and I traveled to where the sales support desk was located. We interviewed stakeholders to understand what they were doing and the issues they were trying to solve. We then applied critical thinking to come up with a better service model delivery strategy.
It was very rewarding to work on a strategic project like that. My biggest takeaway was that even as a junior employee, I was able to make an impact and drive change.