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Carla Harris Is Stepping Down as Morgan Stanley Vice Chair

By Max Abelson

Carla Harris, one of the few Black women to rise to the top echelons of Wall Street, is stepping down as Morgan Stanley’s vice chairman of wealth management.

She will be a senior client adviser to the firm, according to an internal memo sent Tuesday.

Carla Harris, vice chairman of global wealth management at Morgan Stanley, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. Harris discussed the funding gap facing diverse entrepreneurs and said that venture capital firms should expand the definition of expansion risk.

Harris, 59, who had been chair of the Morgan Stanley Foundation from 2005 to 2014, joined in 1987 after getting a bachelor’s degree and her MBA from Harvard University. Then, as now, Wall Street was mostly run by White men. 

“It didn’t intimidate me,” she told Bloomberg News last year. “That’s what you saw at Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, you pick it. So you know that if you wanted to play on this playing field, you were going to have to be comfortable in some cases being the only and being the first. That was not intimidating to me at all. That was just the way it was.”

Last year, Morgan Stanley’s first diversity report showed that 23 of its 1,705 executives in 2018 were Black men and 14 were Black women. This year’s diversity report showed that out of 1,056 executives in 2020, 16 were Black men and 18 were Black women. The bank has said that it’s on a journey that would include some progress, some flatness and some steps back. A preview of its next generation of top leaders this year mostly resembled the White and male old guard. 

Harris is a Walmart Inc. director and member of Harvard’s board of overseers. The daughter of a fishing-boat captain, she was born in Port Arthur, Texas, raised in Jacksonville, Florida, and has sung gospel for decades. Inside Morgan Stanley, she ran the firm’s Multicultural Client Strategy Group, where she’ll be succeeded by Selma Bueno.

“In the most competitive world of high finance, Carla set the standard of unassailable excellence worthy of generational respect, admiration and emulation,” Ray McGuire said via text. He was one of Wall Street’s senior-most Black bankers before leaving Citigroup Inc. last year to run for mayor of New York. 

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com.

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