Women in Shaping the Future of Finance

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Women in Shaping the Future of FinanceMy Dallas Story

Each March social media floods with posts celebrating the achievements of women through the years. Women who have succeeded in male-dominated fields; women who have contributed to research and innovation across industries; women for whom recognition is long overdue.

Many agree that while there’s been progress, we still have further to go.

“I see more women in financial services compared to when I began my career – but there’s still a lot of opportunity,” said Sallie Behnke, certified public accountant and executive director of Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley.


Behnke has lived in Dallas since 2011 when she moved here with her husband. You may recall that was the year Dallas hosted the Super Bowl, and it being the middle of winter, there was a snowstorm.

“It was a disaster.”

Her initial thought was, what did I do?

“The biggest concern was that everybody was going to be from Texas and I was going to be an outsider.”

Though the winter weather returns year after year, the feeling of being on the outside looking in never materialized.

“Dallas is so welcoming; it’s a very open culture, and with the amount of growth that North Texas has seen, there are so many others like me that found a warm reception here. With so many original Texans plus those that have found their home here; it’s a great mix.”

Behnke was raised in St. Louis, and while attending the University of Missouri secured an internship in a large public accounting firm that had exposed her to investing/investments.

“What I like about the industry is the ability to realize the benefits of your work over months and years.  It is the manifestation of your vision of the future after thinking through your priorities and passions that can be so rewarding. At its core, working in investments is about helping people get the most out of those visons for the future.”

Soon after graduation, she moved to New York City to begin her career in finance. Since those early days, she sees more female peers, but agrees that gender equity continues to be an opportunity.

“Morgan Stanley is very committed to diversity and increasing the number of women in the workforce as well as other areas.”

The company is a sponsor of “MAKERS” – a national platform that showcases women’s achievements and personal stories. Since 2014, Morgan Stanley has also been a partner of the program, through which it names in-house leaders as MAKERS.

“Every year they pick the ten most influential women at the firm, who are either advocates or trail blazers.”

Behnke received the honor several years ago.

“It been such a unique and exciting experience, to be recognized for your efforts and to join this legacy of women, but also to see how Morgan Stanley is putting real actions behind words to and be real participants in the progress that is made.”

Morgan Stanley also has a program for women who have left the workforce for a period of time – perhaps to have children – and want to reenter the workforce.

Working towards greater gender equality is a motivator for Behnke who also sits on the board of Texas Wall Street Women, and is a founding member of the Dallas Women’s Advisory Council at Morgan Stanley. The council aims to support women who work at the firm, as well as its clients and prospects as well. For women who are just starting out in their careers, Behnke advises to stay curious – be a life-long learner and seek out mentors that can share their experiences and help guide those who are following in their footsteps. Behnke sees a natural fit between wealth management and women’s natural skillset.

“It is critical that you are a really good listener.  Only by truly listening to clients can you understand not just what a client is saying, but what they really mean – these are not always the same thing. What is keeping them up at night? What financial obligations do they have now and how could those change as their lives evolve? Knowing this is crucial.

While her days are devoted to thinking through strategic financial decisions, time away from the office is spent outside as the fourth teammate in family pickleball tournaments, or playing tennis. They also love to travel – and between DFW International and Love Field, there’s plenty of opportunity to return to tried and true destinations like Bald Head Island in North Carolina, or strike out in a new direction.