An Interview with Christine Armstrong and Danene Cronin, Morgan Stanley, on Financial Literacy

1) Tell me about yourself and your practice at Morgan Stanley?

Christine and Danene are Wealth Advisors with The Armstrong Group at Morgan Stanley focused on providing comprehensive wealth management solutions to affluent individuals, families, entrepreneurs, executives, and institutions. Together, with an experienced team, they help affluent clients address their five biggest concerns: preserving their wealth, mitigating taxes, taking care of their heirs, helping to ensure their assets are not unjustly taken, and charitable giving.

The team utilizes a consultative discovery process to gain a detailed understanding of clients’ deepest values and goals. The team delivers customized recommendations designed to help address each client’s unique needs that goes well beyond simply managing their investments.

2) What made you choose a career in finance?

Christine lost her father at only 5 years old, leaving behind a stay-at-home Mother to care for 3 children. Although she didn’t have words for it, this tragedy launched her into her passion of helping people to make smart decisions with their money, ensuring the short- and long-term success of their family’s financial plan.

From a young age, Danene had an immense amount of interest in numbers and the markets. As a child, Danene used to fervently observe her Mother and Grandmother keep the books for the family business in her Grandmother’s basement. Every time they stepped away from the desk, a young Danene would run to the calculator, even though she knew she wasn’t supposed to touch it. Watching her Father work 3 jobs to give the family a good life, a strong emphasis on work ethic was engrained in her from the start. In high school, Danene spent extra time after the school days with her economics and accounting teachers, eager to learn and hungry for success. As a teen, she was quoted in her town paper that she wanted “to be the first female CEO of a fortune 500 company”. She was born to be in business and that birthed a passion for capital markets.

3) How and why did you launch a program on teen financial literacy in 2020? Did the renewed emphasis on personal savings many of us were experiencing at that time, during the height of Covid, play into that at all?

Piggy-Bank flush with cash from her lemonade stand she operated during a Summer on Cape Cod, Danene’s daughter Caroline began asking a plethora of questions revolving around how to spend and how to save. It dawned on Danene that there was a clear gap between financial literacy education in school for kids and the need for this type of curriculum. Luckily, Morgan Stanley has a wealth of research and resources, which we were able to capitalize on to bridge that gap.

4) What are the major issues specific to teens when it comes to talking about financial literacy, particularly around such things as saving and even investing?

The major topics that we feel need to be discussed with teens are budgeting, the importance of saving, introduction to the markets, investing 101, the basics of credit, giving back and cyber security. A well-rounded curriculum of financial literacy is necessary to absorb the whole message and its importance.

Kids don’t know what they don’t know. Parents want to give this education at home, but it’s almost like talking about sex with kids. They don’t know where to start, how much to tell them, and what is age appropriate.

5) How has your program evolved over the last two years? And what changes, if any, have you implemented to incorporate discussions around the current climate of economic uncertainty and inflation?

In the beginning, our financial literacy lessons were reserved for certain clients at the right time. More recently, the team saw a greater need with times becoming increasingly more complicated and felt compelled to spread the wealth of knowledge at our disposal.

Since 2020, Zoom has become a frequent medium of communication, and all age groups seem to have become increasingly comfortable with it.This has made it much easier and faster to reach our networks, and pass along the vital information we feel people need to know.

6) Do you have any future programs scheduled?  If they are open to the public, how can one sign up?

We are currently working to identify the best venues and populous who could benefit the most from our financial literacy curriculum and look forward to spreading it to all our networks on a personal and public level. We may even offer our services to the public via our LinkedIn networks, so stay tuned!

Connect with Christine and Danene on LinkedIn

About Christine Armstrong

Recently named one of the top 200 Women Wealth Advisors, as well as one of the Best-in-State Wealth Advisors, by Forbes for 2021 and preceding years, Christine Armstrong brings a wealth of experience and a distinctively global perspective to a career spanning more than 34 years in the investment, legal and financial industries.

For over 34 years, Christine has served as Executive Director, Financial Advisor, Senior Portfolio Management Director, and Family Wealth Advisor at Morgan Stanley. Prior to that, she previously held positions as a Public Defender, a labor representative for a major U.S. automaker and an income tax specialist working with expatriate Americans. She is also currently a FINRA Arbitrator (large and complex cases), and has served as an adjunct professor for the College of Financial Planning.

Armstrong’s practice at Morgan Stanley is centered on helping clients pursue their most meaningful long-term goals by identifying and addressing key financial challenges. As such, her practice consists of managing high net-worth clients & families, including individuals, financial institutions, private foundations and tax exempt organizations; she also welcomes to her practice referrals of such clients, offering second opinions to those who may be questioning their current portfolio management.

Christine is a FINRA Arbitrator, and has served as an adjunct professor for the College of Financial Planning. Most recently, she was name to Forbes Magazine’s List of America’s Best-in-State Wealth Advisors for 2018, 2019 and 2020, and Forbes Top Women Wealth Advisors for 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. Christine has been a recurring name in the Financial Times Top 400, which names the top 400 Financial Advisers in the country. She’s also been named to the Baron’s Winner’s Circle, which recognizes the top 50 advisors in Massachusetts. In addition, Christine is recognized annually by Morgan Stanley as a member of the President’s Club (Top 5% globally). Christine has also been a member of Golden Seeds (angel investing focused on women owned businesses) since 2017. Christine devotes considerable efforts to charitable and philanthropic organizations, including serving on the corporate executive board of WGBH and humanitarian work with Project Vietnam to implement and maintain a pediatric healthcare system serving the rural population. Christine travels to Vietnam annually. Christine is a frequent guest on the CBS’s affiliate, WBZ and NECN and appears monthly on Bloomberg.

When not channeling her passion, energy and commitment to her clients, Christine devotes considerable efforts to charitable and philanthropic endeavors, including serving on the corporate executive council of WGBH and humanitarian work with Project Vietnam, traveling frequently to the rural provinces to implement and maintain a pediatric healthcare system. At home in Boston and Maine, Christine and her family annually support several organizations near and dear to their heart: the Human Rights Campaign, Boston City Hospital’s Grow Clinic for Children, the Greater Boston Food Bank and the Good Shepherd Food Bank in mid-coast Maine. Additionally, Christine spends time pro-bono work with the Rian Immigration Center.

Christine Armstrong holds a BS from the University of Arizona; an MS from the University of Ohio; and a JD from the University of Puget Sound in Washington. Born in Los Angeles, she spent her formative years in Europe, has lived and worked in Athens, Greece and settled in Boston in 1984.

About Danene Cronin

Danene has 20+ years of experience in the financial services industry. The last 14+ have been working closely with Christine Armstrong. She is a Financial Advisor Associate (FAA), and a Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA). Danene focuses on monitoring client portfolios and providing analytical support.

She graduated from Villanova University and obtained her CIMA designation from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Danene lives in Waltham, MA with her husband and their two children. She enjoys traveling, staying active and summers spent on Cape Cod.

Christine Armstrong can be reached at (617) 589-3285 or christine.armstrong@morganstanley.comDanene Cronin can be reached at (617) 589-3328 or