Meet Carla Harris: Vice Chairman, Senior Client Advisor and Managing Director, Morgan Stanley

Tell Carla Harris she can’t do something, and that’s exactly what she’ll do. Over the course of Carla’s life, she was often underestimated and told “she can’t.” Yet this only motivated her more to succeed and prove people wrong. When her guidance counselor said it was too hard to get into an Ivy League School, she applied to several and was accepted at all of them. When her parents worried they couldn’t afford Harvard, Carla worked three jobs to make it happen. When she didn’t see people of color in the world of finance, Carla said that’s the place I want to be.

Negative motivation has propelled Carla to incredible success, leading to a 32-year career at Morgan Stanley, one of the nation’s top financial institutions. She started her career in investment banking, and later worked in mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, and wealth management. Today she is the head of Morgan Stanley’s multicultural client strategy.

During her career, Carla has managed money for many high net worth individuals. She has also advised and invested in many companies, helping them grow into multimillion-dollar enterprises. In this conversation with Nely, she shares her insider knowledge on how to build wealth and make financial decisions that can bring you economic freedom and choices in life.

 4 Lessons to Take from Carla Right Now

Growing Wealth Starts with Saving

You don’t have to be on Wall Street to grow wealth. No matter your job, you can start to save money. Saving is the pathway to building wealth because the more you save, the more money you will have to invest, and the more your money will grow.

Live Beneath Your Means

During her career, Carla noticed that those who were very wealthy were not preoccupied with showing it. She knew millionaires who drove Toyotas and owned three pairs of shoes. They lived beneath their means and saved money before spending or acquiring new assets.   

Make Your Money Make Money for You

Once you start saving, it’s important that your money makes money for you. Carla shares two ways to do this: investing your money in the market and investing in local businesses. If you are unsure how to invest, hiring a financial advisor can help you spend and manage your money wisely.

Money Buys You Choices

Saving and investing money is so important because money buys you choices. Often, if you don’t have enough money, choices are made for you. Having your own money gives you opportunities and the power to make the right choices for your life. 


Carla Harris is Vice Chairman and Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, where she also serves as a senior client adviser. Previously, she headed the Emerging Manager Platform at Morgan Stanley, the equity capital markets effort for the consumer and retail industries. Ms. Harris has extensive industry experience in the technology, media, retail, telecommunications, transportation, industrial, and health care sectors. Ms. Harris was appointed by President Obama to chair the National Women’s Business Council. She is the author the books Expect to Win and Strategize to Win.  She is an accomplished singer with 3 albums, 5 sold out concerts at Carnegie Hall and a sold out concert at the Apollo Theatre under her belt. Ms. Harris holds an AB in economics from Harvard University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.