As Head of Field Management, Vincent Lumia is responsible for Morgan Stanley's 15,500 Financial Advisors based in 600 branches across the United States. In many ways, the role returns him to his roots. The Brooklyn-born and Staten Island-raised Fordham University graduate launched his Morgan Stanley career in 1999 as a Financial Advisor himself.
How is the role of a Financial Advisor different now than it was when you started out?
When I began my career as a Financial Advisor, the emphasis was on more of a transactional relationship. That is gone for good. Today our Financial Advisors are serving an ever-growing range of clients’ needs and are focused on helping clients achieve the goals that matter most to them. So they need wide-ranging experience and the ability to draw on professionals at the firm who can help with those concerns.
What’s also new are the tools and technology that Financial Advisors have at their disposal. We are now in a digital world where financial plans are constantly updated, where we use artificial intelligence to make Financial Advisors’ practices more efficient and their outreach to clients more frequent; and our ability to understand the risks our clients are taking, through very sophisticated tools that only we have, has really changed the practice of wealth management and has differentiated Morgan Stanley.
The tools and resources have certainly increased significantly, but with opportunity comes challenges as well. That means our Financial Advisors are continuously learning and deploying cutting-edge technology across complex business models and client situations.
What's your background at the firm?
I started out as a Financial Advisor and did that for four years. During that time, I developed a broad network in the firm's Fixed Income division and eventually joined that group.
I then spent a decade in the Capital Markets group inside Wealth Management and got the chance to run the Equity, Fixed Income, Structured Products and Middle Markets businesses.
And just when I was in the job that I wanted, I was asked to run the Private Wealth Management business. Two years into that role, I took on more responsibility, which is the job I currently have as Head of Field Management.
What advice would you give someone hoping to succeed as a Financial Advisor?
The business has changed dramatically over the last 10 or 20 years and even more so over the last 3 to 5 years. I think 20 or 30 years ago, you could out-hustle your competitors. This was an effort business, and effort was rewarded. But as the world has gotten more complicated, as the markets have changed and as clients can now access an abundance of information, other attributes have become more important. Today you need true experience, real credentials, and the ability to articulate how the other clients you serve have a similar profile to the prospects you're trying to win.
We are also aware of the fact that clients are holding us to higher standards, and in my opinion, the bar is going to rise exponentially over the next 7 to 10 years. The opportunity to serve more of our clients’ wealth is growing significantly, especially in the United States. Over the last 10 years, our business doubled, and we still see significant growth over the next 7 to 10 years. I’d also add that we are one of the few U.S.-based firms that is focused on the international wealth business. That, too, is a strong growth area for us.
Altogether wealth management is a growth business that is attracting a lot of interest. We’re already seeing a lot more young people from the best schools wanting to go into wealth management.
How do you balance career and family?
I travel for work about 30 percent of the time, all over the country. But I also have four kids, ages 14, 10, 7 and 6, so I try to be there for them on days I’m home. I get to soccer games at 5:30 p.m. when I can, and our weekends are generally spent on soccer and baseball fields. If I can squeeze in one round of golf, too, all the better.
My wife Michelle and I also participate in charitable activities. I'm on the board of the National Italian American Foundation and am a member of the Columbus Citizens Foundation. Michelle is on the board of our kids' Catholic school and donates time to the North Shore Holiday House, which provides camp opportunities for underprivileged kids.
What's the best career advice you ever got?
About halfway through my time at the firm, someone pointed out to me the importance of the personal equity I had built. That was 10 years ago, and I didn't fully appreciate what that meant. But what I came to understand is that it takes a long time to build deep relationships and the trust that comes with it, and there is huge value in that. As I've taken on more responsibility, I reflect on what has made me successful, and I realize that I would not have been able to accomplish the things I have without the relationship equity I have built across the firm.
What's the most fulfilling part of your job?
The thing that motivates me the most is the responsibility I have to the people on my team and to their careers and their personal and professional development. The only thing that is more fulfilling than personally being recognized as a Managing Director is being a part of someone else's personal and professional growth, and here at Morgan Stanley, you often get to see that process evolve from the beginning. Identifying, recognizing and rewarding talent continues to be one of my top priorities. I really enjoy it.