Rebecca is the Head of Wealth Management Australia. Rebecca started her career as an investment banker at J.P. Morgan where she worked for 12 years before moving to various senior roles in corporate development and investor relations within ASX-listed corporates for nearly 10 years.
As Co-Chair of Morgan Stanley’s Australia Diversity Council, Rebecca is passionate about attracting, developing and retaining female talent in the business. She helps drive the gender diversity strategy for Morgan Stanley Australia and mentors female employees across the firm.
Rebecca holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons) and Master of Financial Management from the University of Queensland. She also completed the Executive Development Program at Harvard Business School.
As the Head of Wealth Management Australia, I am responsible for the strategic leadership and oversight of the operational, reputational and regulatory aspects of our business. My role consists of working with the leadership team to set the business strategy and key priorities, partnering with our financial advisers and meeting with clients to help them achieve their wealth aspirations, as well as ensuring a strong risk culture is embedded across our business. I also spend time with key stakeholders across the industry to identify future trends and strategic initiatives to drive sustainable growth in our Australian business.
The issues affecting domestic and global financial markets are always changing, which means each day can vary greatly. A typical day would consist of meeting with global colleagues, financial advisers, leadership team members, regulators and our support functions, as well as attending client functions and business pitches.
Definitely the variety. No day is the same and no issue is the same. I love the challenge of building and growing a business and seeing the fantastic team I work with succeeding in their roles. Working closely with clients and finding creative solutions for their needs is also very satisfying. Working in a global firm, you’re frequently working with colleagues across many locations including Australia, Hong Kong and the US, so the global nature of the role is really appealing.
When I graduated from university, I started in M&A at J.P. Morgan and had the opportunity to work in Australia, London and New York. During this time, I gained a global perspective by working with clients in different industries and countries. It was a steep learning curve and a fantastic experience. I don’t think there are many careers that give you exposure to such a broad range of industries at the most senior levels of management just out of university. I moved into work on the corporate side, which I found to be very different from investment banking but challenging and rewarding in its own way. Through my various corporate roles I have had the opportunity to build additional skills through understanding how companies are run, how boards operate and govern in a listed environment as well as develop an important network across the industry.
You are the Co-Chair of the Australia Diversity Council in Morgan Stanley. How important is supporting other women for you?
When I started my career in investment banking, I was the only female within the division and there were very few women generally across the industry. The industry has definitely made progress since then and there is now much more emphasis on developing and supporting female talent. At Morgan Stanley, gender diversity is an important focus area and we’re working on various initiatives to best attract, develop and retain our female talent. Co-Chairing the Australia Diversity Council and helping drive our diversity and inclusion strategy is something that is close to my heart.
Providing opportunities to discuss and debate ideas in an open and respectful environment will often generate unexpected and innovative solutions. Diversity of thought is key to this outcome. Generally, if you have similar people who all think in a similar way, you’re going to limit good ideas. As a leader, the most important thing you can do to facilitate this is to listen. Some leaders think that they need to have all the answers but the reality is, everyone brings a different skillset and experience, so it’s important to have an open mind and encourage different ideas to be shared.
What about Morgan Stanley attracted you?
What attracted me the most were the culture and the people. The questions I had before joining here were around what the culture was like, and whether the people I’d be working with shared similar values to me. Since joining Morgan Stanley in 2017, I have realised that the culture and the people are what makes the firm unique. If you run into an issue or you’re trying to figure something out, no matter how senior someone is in the firm, they are more than happy to help find the solution or put you in contact with someone who will help. Financial services can be a demanding industry at times, so having a collaborative and supportive work environment is crucial.
We often talk about our core values at Morgan Stanley, but it is not just talk; people here genuinely live them every day. We make sure whatever is being proposed is the best solution for the client and that when we take an action, it is the right thing to do. Giving back is also essential to who we are. Many of us at Morgan Stanley contribute in some way to the broader community and that says a lot about our people. I believe our values underpin the long term nature of many of our client relationships and this will continue to support the firm’s growth in Australia.
One of the unique opportunities we have in Australia is continuing to invest in and grow our wealth management business, which is the largest global wealth management provider in Australia. Morgan Stanley’s recent acquisitions of Solium, E*TRADE and Eaton Vance also bring us new global capabilities which broaden the services we provide to our clients in Australia and truly differentiates our offering.