I was recently invited to attend the Wealth Management Diversity Summit at J.P. Morgan in New York City, and was honored to represent the Wisconsin School of Business. This two-day seminar was an opportunity for first-year MBA students from diverse backgrounds to come together to network and learn more about the wealth management division at this prestigious company. Not only was this a great opportunity to get out of the Midwest and engage with a firm in New York, but it was also a chance to interact and network with peers from other MBA programs around the country, including Wharton, Columbia, Fuqua, Booth, and Tuck.
The event began with a cocktail reception, where I met a former stock trader at TD Ameritrade who had moved to advising at a small mom-and-pop wealth management firm before deciding to pursue her MBA. I also met a current brewery owner, a former modern dancer, and a woman who worked in philanthropic consulting. I asked everyone I met why they were considering wealth management. The top two responses I kept hearing were 1) the desire to help and guide people with respect to their finances, and 2) the ability to work in finance and have a very client-facing role (i.e., not stare at a computer screen all day). We compared notes about our respective business schools, and bonded over the rigors of the first semester.
The next morning, we went to J.P. Morgan headquarters bright and early to attend their monthly Morning Meeting, during which top executives gave an overview of recent initiatives and goals moving forward, specifically with regard to retirement and education funding. The topics covered were very client-focused. The presentation also dove into the recent tax law changes and implications for both advisors and clients. As I am beginning to learn about the new tax law in some of my classes, it was very worthwhile to hear about its effects in a context outside of school.
After the Morning Meeting, we were welcomed by a head market manager who shared her career experience at J.P. Morgan over 20 years ago as an immigrant. She talked about some challenges she faced as a woman and a minority working her way up through the firm in various roles, such as having her ideas met with resistance early on when she was the only woman at the table at meetings. Her inspiring presentation was her own experience, becoming more confident and ways we might approach similar challenges moving forward in our own careers.
We engaged in a number of presentations and panels centering on diversity at J.P. Morgan and overviews of working at the firm. We broke out into groups to dissect two case studies representing real scenarios one might encounter as a wealth advisor with J.P. Morgan.
The biggest take-away from these cases; solving any problem within a wealth management context always begins with the client, focusing on communication and relationship-building.
This event was a valuable experience, and I took away a greater understanding of the profession of wealth management within a larger firm like J.P. Morgan. Many firms are aggressively recruiting women and minorities, and this was an opportunity to hear positive stories of a supportive work culture and to hear from individuals who have excelled at this company and in this field.