Name: Walter Stith
Firm: Morgan Stanley MS -0.3 percent Wealth Management
Locale: Atlanta, Georgia
AUM: $2.1 billion
Forbes Rankings: America’s Next-Gen Advisors
The background: Stith, 38, was first introduced to the financial sector while participating within the National Football League as an offensive tackle for the Buffalo Bills. In the offseason following his debut season, He was an intern in the NFL Internship Program for Citigroup Smith Barney.
While he was in college at Western-Michigan, He studied finance. After his professional career, which included stints in Buffalo and Cleveland as part of Cleveland’s Browns and in the Canadian Football-League with the BC Lions, he went back to complete his studies.
It led to a job that led to a position at Morgan Stanley in his native Atlanta. Over the few decades, he has been an advisor with a team that focuses on helping athletes, just like those he used to share a space with. Stith believes that this is a significant need for financial literacy, with an overwhelming wealth for the first generation.
Although he’s proud to represent diversity, which is a necessity in the wealth management industry, He also says that the wealth gap between the races hinders getting into the business because typically, the first group of clients advisors takes to them are people they know.
Strategies and Investments: Working principally with professional entertainers and athletes, The investor sees it as a tool to reach the goal, focusing on cash flow and clients from non-traditional enterprises that do not have the predictable pay of a 9-5.
Competitivity: Being able to relate to many of his clients as a Black man and an NFL veteran has provided Stith an edge in the market. Being among the youngest advisors in the business can be beneficial when helping clients who are less than 25.
Most Significant Challenge: The biggest challenge facing Stith and his business has been the change to work practices that all have been confronted with in the aftermath of the pandemic. Working from home and meeting colleagues and clients online is now the standard. It has been more difficult for Stith as he has three kids under 13 years old.
Mentors when Morgan Stanley first hired Stith, he went to the office searching for someone similar to his experience and came across an experienced adviser Jason Pace, who has been a mentor for him ever since. He also refers to his coworkers Graham Roberts, a fellow Forbes/SHOOK Top Advisor.
Even before he joined the Manhattan-headquartered wirehouse, Stith remembers a neighbor of his growing up, Jamal Grooms, who went on to a successful career in pharmaceutical sales for Bristol-Myers Squibb BMY -0.3% and served as an early example of success during his formative years.
The biggest misperception among clients is the gamification of investing and the increasing popularity of apps-based brokerages such as Robinhood and Coinbase. Others have confused customers about the difference in funding and the concept of what Stith calls gambling.
The Investment Outlook Stith remains optimistic regarding markets despite anticipating inevitable volatility over the near time due to uncertainties surrounding the tax code as the legislation relating to infrastructure continues to be discussed in Congress. This long-term optimism is due to the increased democratization of markets, as more investors can access information and a trading platform. With the growing number of people who invest, Stith believes in demand for more financial guidance.
Film/Book of the Year: Stith was inspired by “The Pursuit of Happiness,” the 2006 biopic that starred Will Smith as Chris Gardner, who was homeless to director of a prosperous brokerage firm.