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Darnell Jackson Multicultural Financial Advisor Forum Profile

Darnell Jackson has been with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney since 2009 and is currently Senior Vice President/Partner at Jackson Group in Birmingham, Michigan where he works with contract executives, entertainers and successful entrepreneurs. Here he talks about some of his other leadership initiatives, namely education.

You were at Merrill Lynch for 25 years. What prompted your move to Morgan Stanley Smith Barney?

Following the financial collapse, I wanted to bring my business to a firm with a solid reputation and strong leadership. I knew Morgan Stanley Smith Barney to be much more than a global company focused on profitability; they were also invested and committed to the communities they served…and that meant a lot to me.

Have you become involved in community activities?
Very much since I came over here. In fact, my involvement in community activities has been encouraged…even orchestrated…by the firm

In what ways?
The firm encouraged me to become involved in their Diversity Council because my experience working with business leaders would be beneficial in terms of sharing best practices. I have also become involved in a financial literacy program for children in the Detroit area. 

What’s that program about?
The financial literacy program is designed to increase the functional knowledge of children in the areas of, finance, economics, math and wealth planning.  We wanted to identify good and bad long term financial behavior.  This brave new initiative kicked off on November 1, 2011 and will hopefully become a model for a broader Morgan Stanley Smith Barney engagement throughout the country.  It's important and exciting work and I'm proud to be part of it. 

What do you love about being a Financial Advisor?
Listening to - and learning from - my clients. Understanding their goals and needs. Helping them map out a strategy to get them where they want to go. It’s through this process I have become  the primary finacial advisor to my clients in both their business and personal  lives. 

Any particularly rewarding experiences you can share?
During the financial collapse of ’87, I met someone on a sailing outing. Like so many others, he was having real financial challenges and had no idea how to proceed. Long story short, I put a plan in place some 25 years ago and we have lived through a number of personal tragedies and triumphs since then.  He’s now retired and in a beautiful home in Florida…just what he always wanted.  And we’re still giving to each other as strongly today as were 25 years ago. That’s very rewarding.

Times are tough now. What are you saying to clients who want to retire?
People have seen a lot of money disappear over the past five years. Many have moved to more conservative positions, which can have consequences on their retirement plans. Earlier today, I had a conversation with a dentist who wants to turn his practice over to his son and retire in the next few years. I pointed out areas in his portfolio which needed to be updated to beat inflation and retire in a manner that will be comfortable given his current asset allocation. That’s a hard recommendation to make right now, but it’s in difficult times that we need to be there to guide them…to use our research and knowledge and help them through these tough times and to help in their endeavor to retire comfortably.

Any tips on how to succeed over the long haul?
I’m a big believer in healthy habits. Drink a lot of water…it’s a life force for maintaining good health.  Exercise regularly…it keeps the body strong and the mind agile.

Lastly, maintain an abiding faith in our country and in our financial system. Believe in our ingenuity and ability to reinvent and prosper. It is my belief that people who are optimistic will always go farther than those who allow indifference and doubt into their lives.

If you are an accomplished professional who shares our passion for putting clients first, please contact a Branch Manager near you.

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