Building connections is something Tracy Castle-Newman has done throughout her two-decade career at Morgan Stanley. It has helped her take on unfamiliar new jobs and bridge product and client groups, both as a mentor to Morgan Stanley colleagues and as a business leader, and has led to success both inside and outside the firm. Recently, she was included on Crain’s Notable Women on Wall Street list and was named a finalist for the WeQual World-Class Women Leaders Award.
Part of her work has focused on helping women in the firm forge the connections they need to achieve personal success as well as advance through the firm, an approach she also applies with clients. To that end, she founded the Morgan Stanley Women’s Investment Roundtable, which is a two-day idea roundtable for women portfolio managers. This conference, which is now in its ninth year, has become a marquis event in the asset management industry.
"We've created a community of like-minded people," Castle-Newman says. "None of these women knew each other before and now many of them have become friends who freely share ideas with each other. The knowledge was always there, but we've elevated their exposure." Castle-Newman recently took some time out to talk about building relationships at Morgan Stanley.
Read more about Castle-Newman in the following interview.
Why did you launch the Women’s Investment Roundtable?
When you’re a woman portfolio manager, unless you’re with a big organization, you’re not that exposed to the asset owners. So you grow your assets slowly. And because you’re a smaller client, you may not get the same focus and intensity of coverage that other managers may get.
If you’re not getting access to the same sources of potential alpha, then your performance isn’t going to be as good. If your performance isn’t good, then you’re not getting access to assets. It ends up creating this vicious cycle. What we’re saying is, “How do we solve for that?” And at the end of the day, it’s all about raising the profile.
What are your goals with the initiative?
Three things. Helping women enhance their performance. Helping women raise assets. And helping women raise their profile internally, so they are able to increase their access to all of the Morgan Stanley assets. When those three things are achieved, the potential is unlimited.
Since the global pandemic started, networking has obviously been more difficult. How are you able to adjust for that?
You know, I saw this as a glass half-full situation. As just one example, we hosted a women-run hedge fund cap-intro conference, called the Women Investment Leadership Conference, remotely this year, and we had over three hundred and fifty allocators. That was up from one hundred and fifty last year.
So you could argue that being forced to go virtual actually had a beneficial effect. First, because it gave people accessibility, and second, it made us able to include far more allocators and to highlight even more women managers—26 in this case. What’s more, those women were really able to engage with one another in a way they might not have done otherwise.
And, of course, in addition to leading this initiative, you are also the COO of Global Institutional Equity Distribution. Talk a bit about that.
My responsibilities include Client Strategy and Business development, ETF product management, Systematic Advisory Strategy, Commission Management and an institutional client joint venture between Equity and Fixed Income and Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. I am also a member of the Equity Operating Committee.
I started in this role in 2009 with the mandate to define and drive our client strategy. This enabled me to insert myself in businesses that were not maximizing their potential, and I began to run more and more businesses.
Basically, my whole career here I've been figuring out how we can make money out of what we have that is differentiated. If I think about my career and the things that I own and why I own them, it's because I go into the places where we're not maximizing value and then figure out how we can.
What’s an example of a recent project you worked on?
We just launched a brand around all of our quantitative assets. And it’s really about our clients, both fundamental and quant clients, leveraging quantitative techniques in their investment process.
So it’s data, it’s content, it’s access to analysts, cap. intro., etc. What we wanted to do was bring that all together so that we could further innovate around how we could help our clients really drive alpha by using these techniques.
We have about four hundred clients now that we’ve actively engaged with this product. And now we’re taking that same playbook and applying it to ESG.
What gets you excited to come to work?
I like helping clients solve problems, knowing that that not only drives performance for them but it helps us grow our business as well. In order to do that, you have to balance the tactical with the strategic and bring all the pieces together. I think people would describe me as a connector, and that is what allows me to create value opportunities.
What about your mentoring activities?
I find I learn as much by being a mentor as I did by being mentored. The more senior you get, the less connected you are to the day-to-day, so your knowledge comes from junior people on the ground who are in constant communication with you. They will put a problem in front of you, and you will help tell them how to solve it. But then you realize that your problem, while it may be more complex, has exactly the same attributes, and you end up solving a challenge of your own in the process.
What advice do you give to those you mentor?
I always talk about your sphere of influence. I don't know exactly how many people I manage but I do know I influence thousands and thousands of people, not only in the Equity division but firmwide.
Your ability to influence people is what allows you to get things done. Having an idea is one thing, but your idea is only good if you implement it successfully. The only way you can implement successfully is by working with other people, and at Morgan Stanley, the power of that network and that influence is huge.