Kara Underwood

Kara is the Head of Field Talent Management at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.   Wealth Management is an industry in transition, and our clients are at the center of everything we do.  Kara leads our talent strategy and is focused on positioning Morgan Stanley to address the evolving needs of our clients and investors.   She leads diversity and inclusion efforts throughout our 600 branch offices and within home office—a core component of sourcing and retaining world-class talent and establishing deep relationships with our clients.   Kara is responsible for building the next generation of financial advisors for the firm—which includes hiring, on-boarding and developing 1200 advisors and associates annually.  Additionally, she is charged with ensuring that our field leaders are equipped to lead and excel in changing times, and Kara’s team oversees the sourcing, selection and development of our management team.
Kara is passionate about engaging individuals to bring their strengths and full selves to work every day. Knowing that excellence requires investment and thoughtful risk-taking, Kara counsels individuals to dream bigger and “go for it.”  She nurtures bold thinkers and drives change—and pushes top performers to reach back and bring others with them.  In honor of her championship and advocacy efforts, Kara was named a MAKER@ Morgan Stanley in 2015, and recognized as a “Woman to Watch” by Investment News in 2017.
Kara’s has invested her entire career in Wealth Management, and the majority of her time has been in talent development roles.   Prior to Morgan Stanley, Kara spent seven years at Prudential Securities where she was the Manager for Branch Management Selection and Development. She began her career in financial services in 1994 as a member of Merrill Lynch’s Private Client Development Program, a management program for college graduates. During her tenure at Merrill Lynch, Kara was a Marketing Associate in the Financial Planning Group.
She is a member of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management’s Management Committee and the Operating Committee. A graduate of Holy Cross, Kara received her MBA from the Stern School of Business at NYU while working full-time. She and her husband, Mark, have a son and a daughter, both of whom spend a lot of time on the athletic fields.