Efforts in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)

Dan Becraft, Morgan Stanley

Seattle, Washington

Dan Becraft, Morgan StanleyDan Becraft, Morgan Stanley

Business at a Glance as of 12/31/21

  • Plan assets under advisement: $450 million
  • Median plan size (in assets): $35,000 to $40,000
  • Plans under administration: 20
  • Total participants served: 3,000

PLANADVISER: Tell us about your practice and how you got into advising retirement plans.

Becraft: My financial career catalyzed at age 12 when I won my junior high stock picking competition. That began my fascination with finance, the market, and the effect money has on the world and the people around me.

 

PLANADVISER: How is your team/process/structure unique? How has it evolved? Where will you be in five years?

Becraft: My team structure is unique in our horizontal style of leadership. Every member of my team is welcome and encouraged to share their opinion across all topics and decisions. From interns to FAs, it is important to me that we uphold a culture of empowerment for each teammate and that they feel supported and integral to the team.

As our team evolves over the next five years my primary goal is to champion each member toward achieving their own goals. I will continue to tirelessly support my members, creating an atmosphere where we can all grow, learn, and pursue the best version of ourselves.

 

PLANADVISER: As a retirement plan adviser, what do you take the most pride in?

Becraft: I take the most pride in my phenomenal team and the positive impact we have on our clients. I am proud that every member of my team is confident and kind. Hailing from different backgrounds we each bring a unique perspective to our work. This diversity allows us to serve and care for our clients as best we can.

 

PLANADVISER: What challenges do you think the retirement plan industry faces and what role do you have in addressing and confronting those challenges?

Becraft: I think the biggest challenge this industry faces is the homogeny of our work force. The range of clients we serve is diverse and growing, with constantly evolving wants and needs. The demographics of our industry are not keeping pace. This is one reason why efforts in DE&I are so important. Employing plan managers with different life experiences, backgrounds, beliefs etc, is necessary to best serve our clients. We need diversity of thought and perspectives to create the best solutions, and to move our industry forwards.

 

PLANADVISER: How do you go about moving from words and ideas to action when it comes to addressing the lack of diversity in the financial advisory industry? 

Becraft: A key obstacle to achieving better DEI is the disconnect between entry level positions/hiring practices, and promotion/leadership demographics. Much of my efforts in DEI are dedicated to changing the composition of management, promotions, and upper-level positions.

I take a three-step approach to move from words to ideas when addressing this lack of diversity. First, I believe empowerment is necessary. Individuals must feel confident in their abilities and know that I am also confident in what they can achieve. This empowerment is ingrained in my teams’ culture, demonstrated in the respect and kindness I show others, and upheld by the celebration of achievements.

The second step is delegation. I delegate work to my team members befitting their skills and goals. I want to provide my team members with positive challenges and opportunities to learn and grow across the field. I do not believe in micromanaging or assigning busy work. Rather, I believe in delegating work that will provide my team members with concrete examples of their skills and achievements.

The third step is championing. Each of my team members is invaluable in the work they do and what they bring to the team. If an individual wants to pursue career advancement, professional goals, new opportunities, etc., it is my responsibility to champion them as best I can. I do so proudly. Whatever connections I can make, recommendations I can provide, or advice and direction I can give, I am determined to provide the resources and encouragement necessary to champion others toward their goals.

By following these steps, I am both consistently surrounded by wonderful team members, and proud to have had many team members move forwards and up in their careers. I take great pride knowing I do everything within my power to create a strong foundation.

 

PLANADVISER: What are some of the benefits that an equitable and inclusive culture bring to a firm and its people? 

Becraft: The benefits an equitable and inclusive culture bring to a firm, and its people, are incomparable. There are endless statistics demonstrating the positive effects inclusive culture brings to firms. From a personal, anecdotal view, there are standout benefits both internally and externally.

Internally, an equitable and inclusive culture is positively correlated with a strong sense of community and dedication to the firm. When, as a firm, we focus on these things we can learn from and connect with one another, this grows kindness and empathy. These characteristics benefit everything, from daily conversations, to conflict resolution, to overall workplace satisfaction. Employees are happier in a space where they feel, safe, wanted, and respected.

These emotions and practices grown within the firm translate to outward facing business as well. If internal company culture is equitable and inclusive, treatment, relationships, and communication with clients will trend in that direction. Additionally, if staff are feeling the benefits of inclusive and equitable culture, the kindness and empathy mentioned in the internal benefits will be seen externally in employees treatment and understanding of clients. Employees will be more likely to know how to communicate effectively with clients, and better understand their wants and needs.

In my opinion, an equitable and inclusive culture is not just a benefit, but a need for firms.

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