As part of Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting some of the most powerful Black women who you may not have heard of. To that end, we sat down with Sandra Richards, Head of Global Sports, Entertainment, and Segment Sales at Morgan Stanley.
Born and raised in Long Island, NY to Jamaican parents, Richards went on to earn both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Seton Hall University. She had initially planned to attend law school but ended up pursuing several opportunities outside the legal industry.
“I had an opportunity to work at the Jackie Robinson Foundation. And I worked there for five years before coming to Morgan Stanley. When I joined Morgan Stanley, I joined their wealth management space with our Wealth Management Studies in the diversity and inclusion area for our global wealth managers space,” Richards said.
“Now, I run our global Sports and Entertainment Group as of 2018,” she added.
Why She Loves Her Role
“I think the most rewarding part is certainly when I get a chance to engage with our advisors and helping them and telling their stories to the marketplace, whether it be talking to their clients [or] talking to their potential clients. Every day is new,” she said.
She also added that part of her job involves helping professional athletes manage their finances.
“I enjoy the financial education piece that we do with a number of athletes and entertainers, especially when we go to the college level in a high school level,” Richards said. “We hope to help these athletes who are aspiring to get to the next level, have a good, solid educational background in the finance space to go forward and make healthy and smart decisions.”
The Literary Brunch
Sandra also hosts Morgan Stanley’s Literary Brunch which has featured some of the most talented modern writers of color, including Walter Mosley, Luvvie Ajayi, and Bernice L. McFadden.
Richards explained that a conversation over coffee with a publisher about ten years ago inspired her to launch the event.
“She was talking about the challenges that she was having in terms of ensuring that the voices of her diverse authors were [being] highlighted and, and shown,” Richards said. “I said, ‘You know, we can always work together and create an experience because these are the kinds of things that we’re trying to put in front of our clients to add value to being a client at Morgan Stanley.’ We want to do more than just manage your money; we care about your whole family.”
The event began as an annual retreat to Martha’s Vineyard. Then they added dates in Harlem. One of the brunches was even held at one of Sheila Johnson’s properties in Middleburg, VA.
“It started out like, what can we do to help elevate the platform of diverse authors, to ensure that all stories are being told, and [recognizing] how this could be a great learning experience for our advisors, for our clients and [for] those community members that we invite to the event,” Richards said.
The event was forced to go virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic but Richards explains that hosting the event online has allowed them to scale the event to reach a wider audience.
Richards is also an author in her own right, having written a children’s book, “Rice and Rocks,” inspired by her own experiences with her Jamaican family in Long Island.
In her current role, Richards is passionate about equipping young professional athletes and entertainers with the financial knowledge they need to make smart money decisions for themselves and their families.
“The more that we can reach out to young people before they go pro or before they go on screen, or before they get on camera, and enter into this professional world, to ensure that they have the knowledge [they need],” she said. “That’s a focus that will continue for me.”
Editorial Note: Portions of this interview have been edited for clarity.