The vibrant technology startup community of Silicon Valley continues to make the Bay Area a great place for financial advisors to work, according to a Morgan Stanley FA.

“It’s a really great time to be an advisor in Silicon Valley, advising these companies and their employees,” said Gail Covington, managing partner of the San Francisco-based Covington Wealth Management Group at Morgan Stanley.

“If you think about folks who are part of the early-stage founding teams that have large percentages of the company … it becomes the largest source of their future wealth, depending on the trajectory of the company,” she said. “There are some very unique opportunities for planning for those early-stage founders of companies.”

Covington says she gets to apply her training as a family wealth director to help clients understand how the law works around trust and estate planning.

“We see a lot of this planning in the Bay Area, in Silicon Valley,” she said.

Employees who may not be part of a firm’s founding team also have a need for advice, according to Covington.

“They may not be wealthy at the moment; they may have paper wealth,” she said. “They need advice and counsel from a CPA [Certified Public Accountant] because there are tax implications for the decisions of what they do with their options and they also need investment advice.”

“Both the founders and the employees have actionable steps that are important,” she added.

Mentoring

Meanwhile, Covington was recently recognized as part of the wirehouse’s MAKERS program, which recognized 20 outstanding professionals across Morgan Stanley Wealth Management who are groundbreakers, innovators and champions of women’s achievement.

Covington, who has been registered with Morgan Stanley for 13 years, says her mentoring efforts got her in this year’s batch of MAKERS.

“I have had mentors all along my own professional journey, and I am proud to have supported a number of young women, in particular, towards their personal growth and development,” she said. “For me, it’s really the power of unlocking someone’s future.”

“Awareness of the opportunities is, first and foremost, the big piece,” Covington added, noting that recruitment is also key.

As part of her mentoring efforts, Covington has helped introduce women to careers in financial services. This involves helping the mentees think about their education and showing them the available careers, “whether it’s becoming an FA, or, in the case, of one person, an investment banker,” she said.

Diversity

Covington began her career as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs in 1993, thanks to David Darst, an executive at the firm who mentored her at business school and later worked for Morgan Stanley. Darst visited Harvard Business School on several occasions during Covington’s time there and forged links with Black students, according to Covington.

“He showed up several times a year, he took a group of us to dinner, where he then proceeded to talk about the merits of the firm where he worked at the time,” Covington said. “His recruitment efforts were very intentional and deliberate, and it was clear that he was making a personal investment in our success.”

“After our second year there were seven Black Harvard Business School graduates who joined the firm, and I think [the] wealth management industry needs a similar kind of intentional recruiting effort with involvement by senior leadership,” she added. “Students have many choices, and many young people today are focused on opportunities in technology, for example, and many other careers.”

Covington’s work as a trustee with the San Francisco Symphony and the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts was also acknowledged as part of Morgan Stanley’s MAKERS program.

“For me, it’s an honor to be part of legacy building for these organizations that are so transformative,” she said.

A musician by training, Covington played the violin in the San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, California youth symphonies during her childhood. In 1983 she performed for Queen Elizabeth II at Davies Concert Hall in San Francisco.

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