A Morgan Stanley Advisor’s Unconventional Journey From Modeling To Game Show Winnings To Wealth Management

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Nadine Wong has been with Morgan Stanley MS  for 30 years this July, but she is far from an industry lifer, having worked in architecture, traveled the world as a fashion model and winning two game shows before her foray into financial services.

In addition to her current title as private wealth advisor and family wealth director at the three-person $568 million in assets Eagle Team, with Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, Wong has held the title of model at Ford Modeling Agency, architecture student and game show winner, twice, once on the show Win, Lose or Draw, and once on Classic Concentration, hosted by a young Alex Trebek.

Wong, 59, says she applies the problem solving ethos of architecture, the risk taking approach of a game show and the branding lessons of modeling to help burnish her credentials as a self-described “5-foot-10 Asian-American freak of nature.”

Coming from a family with divorced parents, Wong saw her mother struggle with financial literacy and learned at a young age that financial independence offers freedom. She relied on an interest in capital markets and work ethic dating back to high school, having paid her own undergraduate tuition and graduate school, when choosing to leave architecture and modeling. She initiated the career change by attending Columbia Business School, saying that “beauty fades but brains last forever.”

Being a rare woman of color in the industry has led Wong to rely on an ethos of never giving up, never taking no for an answer, coming from good intentions and being “extremely competitive.”

“There’s going to be certain people that want to work with me, because they share the same values, and integrity. And those are the ones with which I’ve had the longest lasting relationship. So you will find your own clientele based on who you are,” she adds.

Serving as one of the global sports and entertainment directors at the firm, Wong specializes in serving a unique type of clientele, including Emmy, Grammy and Pulitzer Prize award recipients. Working with this artistic group, she attempts to educate them and keep them in the loop on their assets and investments in order to free them up to focus on the “geniuses they are in their industries.” 

While socially distancing over the last year, her team has gone beyond just portfolio reviews with the help of firm wide programs to offer investment lessons to younger family members and hosting webinars with interesting speakers such as historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and professional golfer Justin Rose.

Wong sent all her clients Cara oranges early in the pandemic to help boost their immune systems and invited them to a virtual art salon, using her status as a board member of the American Theatre Wing. Wong has often used her connections in the arts and entertainment industry to leverage personal networks to connect clients. Before Covid, she would take clients to Broadway shows, Tony Awards rehearsals and on backstage tours.

During a year with outsize volatility, Wong has heard clients’ concerns while aiming to make clients feel empowered and confident in their long term financial plans.

“We’re in a new economic cycle. We had a V-shaped recovery give way to a secular bull market, which typically lasts years. We’re recommending rotating toward cyclical value with equities, small-cap, internationals, developing markets, Asia equities; staying short-duration for fixed income; and, due to volatility, recommending active management versus passive management for this new business cycle,” she says.

In her three decades with the New York-based multinational investment bank, she has moved up from intern to her current position, enjoying the lifestyle and freedom of being an advisor, especially when her husband faced health issues and she was able to be with him. While Covid has taken away a lot from Wong’s facetime with clients, she feels blessed to have had the opportunity to spend time with her family and children who are home from college.

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