When asked to describe herself, Ileana Musa uses words like “results-driven” and “action-oriented.” She likes getting things done: “I thrive on rolling up my sleeves and executing all the way through"—which is good news considering her to-do list.
Besides raising a seven-year-old daughter with her husband, an actor/producer, caring for her elderly mother, and supporting her 106-year-old grandmother, Musa leads two related businesses at Morgan Stanley—as Co-Head of International Wealth Management, and Head of International Banking & Lending. She’s also involved in several nonprofit and professional organizations devoted to education, the arts and Latinx issues including ALFPA, the Association of Latino Professionals For America, which recently honored her as one of its Most Powerful Latinas for the third year in a row. In addition, she was named to the 2019 Morgan Stanley MAKERS class.
Musa joined Morgan Stanley in 2017 as part of the firm’s strategic focus on international high-net-worth clients. She brings an appropriately worldly perspective to the role, as she was born in Cuba, lived in Spain briefly during her childhood and then moved to Miami, where she is currently based. Of her dual roles she says, “The only way we can grow the International Wealth Management business is to continue to pay attention to the bank. The two go hand in hand in terms of the work ahead. It's all so exciting!”
She is equally passionate about supporting the career development and advancement of Latinas, particularly at Morgan Stanley. "I always ask our clients whether our brand speaks to them. I think it's important." Musa shares her insights on The U.S. Latino Opportunity in this Morgan Stanley Minute.
What does Morgan Stanley offer in the area of International Wealth Management?
We have a great network of international Financial Advisors with a long tenure—close to 20 years—and who have a deep cultural understanding of the markets we serve. That's really important to global families looking to manage their wealth in the U.S.
Over the last 10 years, the business has evolved. Before then, global families wanted to manage their wealth offshore, away from the U.S,. and now we've seen a trend in the opposite direction. There's a lot more transparency in the way clients do their business. As a result, the U.S. has become very attractive because it's relatively safe, cost-effective, and it has robust oversight.
Morgan Stanley runs this operation from the U.S. for clients around the world. So we've been in a great position to help our clients understand that we have a global brand, a solid platform and a strong network of international advisors, and we're committed to this business.
What are your plans going forward?
We want to make sure we grow this business. We want to continue to focus on our Financial Advisors, giving them what they need in order to deliver service to our clients. That means closing strategic gaps that we have on the product side. You have to think creatively about it and you have to be very agile, because every jurisdiction has its unique considerations. You have to be willing to step in and meet with the client and help them understand, “Why Morgan Stanley?"
In addition, we're trying to attract more talent, and specifically, women to Morgan Stanley’s Wealth Management division. It’s all about diversity of thought and perspective, which can assure that everyone around the table looks at solutions differently. That’s when you get that tension, vital to enabling innovation.
How are you working to bring in more diverse talent and women to that table?
I'm very involved with an organization called ALPFA, the Association of Latino Professionals For America: I sit on their advisory board. The organization has about 70,000 members and is focused on leadership development and the advancement of Latinos. I have spearheaded a lot of their work around women over the years.
I'm also involved with the board of the honors college at Florida International University. I'm working with them and with Morgan Stanley to kick off a two-year pilot program to source diverse talent through a combination of coursework and internships. By the time the students land internships with the firm in their junior year, we will know them and they will know us. That will help with retention.
What do you like most about Morgan Stanley?
It feels very small—folks laugh when I say that, because Morgan Stanley is, in fact, a giant in the business with a sizable global footprint—but the culture here of putting clients first makes us a lot more nimble in terms of thinking creatively about our clients' needs and finding solutions for them.
I also feel that this company really gets women. That was important for me, because I do a lot of work around Latina women. I wanted to make sure that I was joining a firm that empathizes and is committed to offering practical support within the firm as well as outside of the firm. I am profoundly impressed with Morgan Stanley in that vein.