How These Morgan Stanley Partners Are Changing The Diversity Narrative In Wealth Management

The recent re-ignition of racial tensions across the world has prompted companies to take a further dive into the deep-rooted legacies that have previously created uphill battles for Black people. In the world of wealth management, it has been well documented that the financial services industry is dominated by white […]

The recent re-ignition of racial tensions across the world has prompted companies to take a further dive into the deep-rooted legacies that have previously created uphill battles for Black people.

In the world of wealth management, it has been well documented that the financial services industry is dominated by white men. Diversity and inclusion have often been words used to politely acknowledge racial disparity, but often fall short of creating meaningful change.

I recently caught up with Isaac Richard III, 27 and Dominique Jordan, 29, two successful financial advisors at Morgan Stanley
to ask their views around diversity, equity and inclusion.

As two of Morgan Stanley’s youngest ever Black partners, Isaac and Dominique have reached a level of success that has been no easy feat. Based in Los Angeles, CA, the majority of their wealth management clients are CEO’s, entrepreneurs and high-net worth individuals tied to entertainment and sports.

“We’ve both worked extremely hard to be in the positions we are in today. When our clients entrust us to be the centrepiece on their road to long term wealth creation, it’s a responsibility we never take lightly” says Isaac, who grew up in Oakland, California.

Black Communities And Wealth Management

Inequalities in the United States of America, and abroad, are a product of long-standing structural racism. It has resulted in a situation where black communities are less well paid, and less able to contribute effectively to wealth building activities. Recognizing the generational setbacks of Black communities, Isaac and Dominique dedicate their time to closing the wealth inequality gap in the U.S.

“It’s important to understand the impact we have working in concert with a firm like Morgan Stanley. Being able to enter our communities and educate our people on the importance of financial literacy, is paramount. Unfortunately, the net-worth of a Black household still represents about a tenth of our white counterparts.

This discrepancy goes back generations, but with the amount of work being done on resetting the playing field, we’re confident our efforts can make real change.” says Dominique, who began his career in South Central Los Angeles. Isaac and Dominique currently serve on both local, and regional diversity and inclusion councils, and additionally sit at the complex and regional levels.

They both felt it was necessary to have a leading voice surrounding the global work environment conversation. As Isaac states, “The firm has made a substantial commitment to diversity and inclusion. It’s critical that we help to take the unconscious bias dialogue a step further, by also continuing to assist in bridging the gap externally to show diverse communities opportunities in wealth management.”

In addition to serving on councils, they are working to further push for more diverse candidates that look like them, simply as they both said in unison, “There’s just not many coworkers that look like us, to put it lightly” as they discussed the mental weight that comes along with walking into the office and only seeing you as a representation of your culture.

“However, it’s been a blessing showing the next generation a career path that may have formerly been deemed unattainable. It’s not enough to simply be hired or feel a sense of belonging, we want to show that you can truly excel as well.” says Isaac.

Understanding Belonging And Authentic Inclusion

Anyone could argue that being a solo employed minority in any industry, is tough. In the financial and wealth management arena, while dealing with other’s emotions and finances, the pressures of being the ‘only one’ can have its challenges.

An important factor is around being empathetic towards the lived experiences of people from different racial backgrounds. It’s an important part of the inclusion framework. If the organization fails to listen to the concerns of Black employees, then there is hardly a case for developing a sense of belonging; one that will foster a more inclusive environment, that is attractive to potential Black talent.

Dominique described, “When the tragic events of the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmad Aubrey and Breonna Taylor occurred, I think our colleagues, didn’t grasp the mental and emotional battles at 5:00am as we begin our day running a business, executing a world class experience for our clients and still performing the job at hand.”

As Isaac adds, “We’re proud to be a part of this change surrounding the wealth management narrative. The support from not only the firm, but our amazing clients as well, has been tremendous to say the least.”

When asked what they could do to help, Isaac and Dominique were clear: “Well, two black men being partners at our ages, at a firm of this magnitude, is something that isn’t done very often, if ever. If our work can inspire and set a trail for those who come behind us, we’re all for it.” says Isaac.

The Future Of Diversity And Inclusion In Wealth Management

The recruitment, retention and equitable progression of diverse people within the field of wealth management, is paramount. My interview with Isaac and Dominique most certainly represents a voice of reason, vision and professionalism around diversity, equity and inclusion.

With their young, prodigious minds they exude an air of black excellence that the wealth management sector could learn from. With the spirit and vision to deliver on diversity, equity and inclusion, they are both professional and articulate around their goals.

When asked what the future holds both agreed that the time for equity within wealth management is now. Isaac added, “there are too few of us and that has to change”

In his closing remarks Dominique said “The future looks bright but it takes hard work and the commitment of all parties.” Isaac adds, “There is hardly an industry that cannot take recent events, and learning, seriously enough to prepare for a rapidly changing future, which includes the participation of Black people on an equitable level.”

In the end, the participation of Black people in tomorrow’s world of wealth management, will rest upon the actions that the industry takes today. Recent events have taught us hard lessons. The industry must attract Black talent and build systems for retention and progression on the basis of a level playing field. 

The global wealth management industry was worth $486.78 billion in 2019. The industry manages the wealth of high net worth Black people around the globe, including many Black businessmen, sports celebrities, and others within film, music and entertainment.  Should it not make sure that it can also attract, retain, and support Black talent too?

In the end, it is the development of the systems and processes that create real opportunities for the full participation of Black employees, that really matters.

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