This branch manager lifts women; stays true to her heritage
“That’s the job I want,” Terri Ferri, a sales assistant then, told her mother after introducing her to the branch manager during an office visit 25 years ago.
With every faith in her ambitious and talented daughter, her mother knew Terri would have to work hard in the male-dominated banking field to get there. Today, Terri is Branch Manager of Morgan Stanley’s Purchase, N.Y., Headquarters Office and recently was named a Morgan Stanley MAKER. “Doing just about every job in the branch gave me the confidence to say, ‘I can run it,’” which she’s been doing since 2013. “I'm very appreciative of the opportunities I’ve had here at the firm and every day remind myself how lucky I am,” says Terri.
Growing up in the Bronx with her two sisters and Italian parents, Terri credits her success to her strong sense of family and “the work ethic they instilled in me.” The first to attend college, Terri says: “My parents made many sacrifices to make that happen. The biggest way I could repay them was to make them proud.”
Terri majored in finance and minored in marketing at Fordham University, thinking she might go into fashion and work in her family’s dress production business. But she landed a sales assistant job right after graduation, a job her father encouraged her to try. The industry intrigued her, and for the next two decades, Terri worked her way up in various banking, investment, sales and management roles on Wall Street. She’s been with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and its predecessor firms since 1993.
“With my investment and banking experience, I was really well-suited for wealth management and wanted to work with Financial Advisors again,” she recalls. So when she landed in the Purchase branch, it was “a dream come true.”
While overseeing 90 Financial Advisors and $17 billion in assets as of September, 2018, most importantly she’s focused on “the culture—making sure we do everything with integrity and deliver the best possible client experiences.” Put another way, “I’m the relationship manager of my branch,” she adds. “The credibility I have with my Financial Advisors affords me the opportunity to help them advance their businesses.”
A mother of two daughters, Arielle, 20, and Toni, 17, Terri also is focused on inspiring her children and other women. She admires “how Morgan Stanley takes seriously and reinforces the message of MAKERs,” that of celebrating bold, trailblazing women and sharing their stories to inspire others. “I try to be a good example for my daughters, to teach them that you can overcome some of the obstacles, it’s okay to be strong, and it’s nice to be able to take care of yourself,” she says.
Terri, who overcame a divorce and since remarried, wants her children and other women to “never feel intimidated,” and to remember that “if you're strong, you can survive, and you really have to keep going,” like she did while raising her girls through a difficult time. Her MAKERS recognition makes her feel like “I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing” and hopes that others seeing what she does every day “will help other women in their careers,” she says, “especially the younger generation coming up behind us.”
Another way she lifts women is through her support of The American Heart Association. This year, she chaired the Westchester-Fairfield “Go Red for Women” annual campaign with her sister and “partner in health,” Grace Ferri. The sisters together joined a bootcamp earlier this year, have stuck to regular fitness regimens, and now together get to spread the message of women’s heart health.
While certainly a trailblazer on the job, Terri believes in upholding some traditions. “I grew up in a very typical Italian household,” she explains, “where family comes first, and giving back to the community is instilled in you.” As a child, she was involved with her church parish and volunteering through the Girl Scouts. Now, as a board member of the Italian American Forum, a business networking organization in Westchester County, N.Y., Terri combines her love of preserving Italian culture and traditions with giving back, as the Forum raises money for the Italian Welfare League, the Columbus Citizens Foundation and the Generoso Pope Foundation, to name a few. The news that Terri would be honored this year by the Italian Welfare League “made my father very happy.”
Perhaps her family ritual of jarring sauce each year is a good analogy for the way Terri tackles each day. “It’s a ton of work,” she says of the full-day endeavor she and her girls recently tackled. “But it’s really about the whole family working together. Every year, I’m like, ‘That’s it. I’m never doing this again.’ But I just can’t seem to stop.”