Suited recently connected with Erin Lyons, a Licensed Wealth Advisor for Morgan Stanley to learn more about her unique path to Wall Street.
Upon entering college, Erin knew she wanted a career that would provide her life with success, financial stability, and abundance. She began as a pre-med student at Michigan State University, where she started her own hair extension business from her dorm room. In order to grow and optimize the success she was already finding in her side hustle, she decided to change her major to Finance and apply to the competitive undergrad business program at MSU.
She knew that in order to secure a role after graduation, she would need to gain real-world experience through an internship. She secured a summer position at Northwestern Mutual Insurance, where she gained exposure to life insurance, investment products, and financial planning. Erin was recognized as one of the top 100 interns in the program, and was invited to a recognition event at HQ, where she quickly realized she was the only African American woman in the room. It was after that experience that she understood her success could be an example to the African American community, by showing others what’s possible.
Erin decided that if she was really going to dedicate herself to this ideal, she had to rise to the highest heights and work towards joining one of the best firms on Wall Street. She then landed at Raymond James as a Branch Service advisor, and later took on the opportunity to be a Financial Planner at Ernst and Young.
Now she works at Morgan Stanley as a Wealth Advisor, working with corporate executives within Fortune 500 companies, business owners, professional athletes, and entertainers. She is wrapping up her 3-year associate program and now holds her Series 7, 63, & 65 certification, and her Wealth Advisory Team manages roughly $600M in client assets.
What do you think made you stand out, even though you did not attend a university that many elite financial institutions would consider a “target” school?
Though I did not attend an Ivy League school, I believe my passion & real-world
experiences helped me stand out as a top candidate when applying for various roles in the finance industry. I had a deep understanding of performance expectations and was able to clearly articulate how I would be successful.
My entrepreneurial background coupled with my personal “why” made me a magnetic force that people would naturally want to support. Not only did I display characteristics of someone who can thrive in challenging environments, I also showed my capacity to connect with other people.
Why do you think more women, specifically women of color, should pursue a career in finance?
I think it’s important for diverse women to explore opportunities in finance because we bring a different style of leadership & communication to the environment. Women are naturally compassionate & nurturing when working with others. This can be extremely valuable in sectors like Wealth Management where relationships drive business success.
This ultimately drives overall performance of a company because all data is being factored into analytics and decision-making.
Your professional trajectory is full of hustle and hard work. Additionally, roles in finance are notorious for being very demanding. What keeps you motivated?
I am motivated by my desire to utilize my financial background to promote financial inclusion across gender, race, and sustainable business models. I enjoy using my expertise to serve underrepresented groups including women, multicultural individuals, and organizations that have a focus on sustainability and positive environmental impact. I am doing what I love so I am able to keep up with the momentum and exert myself.
In addition to your job at Morgan Stanley, you are also interested in promoting financial independence for women and entrepreneurship. How does this manifest?
I frequently utilize my platform to collaborate with organizations who are aligned in their mission to support women, people of color, and businesses who care about the planet.
This has manifested in the form of hosting Webinars for their memberships and audiences that will allow access to information and resources they would not traditionally have access to.
To name a few, I have facilitated Webinars with prominent organizations boasting 600k+followers on their social media including: How Multicultural Founders Can Gain Access to Capital, How Women Can Maximize Their Savings, & more. I am currently working on an Impact Investing Seminar with an organization that focuses on highlighting people of color in Sustainability. I believe it starts with education & helping people see what’s possible once they have a roadmap. While investing in a portfolio can maximize return, I believe investing in the community can maximize our collective potential – yielding abetter future for all.
The lived experiences of multicultural women adds diverse perspectives to workplace culture. Since most women of color have unique experiences, they are able to think & solve problems from a viewpoint not always understood by the majority.