#inmyMM with the Coolest Woman in Finance, Danie McHugh
April 08, 2016 | Filed in: Woman of the Week
Danie McHugh, 40, is quick on her feet—quite literally. During college, she got her first taste of the finance world as a “runner” at the Chicago Board of Trade, zipping around in sneakers to give out trades. Now a partner at a newly launched investment advisory firm (and mother of two sets of identical twins), she’s moving faster than ever. Meet the latest star of our #inmyMM customer series.
I WORK as a partner at a registered investment advisor, Summit Trail Advisors, that we launched in July of 2015. We work with high net worth clients to manage their money.
I LIVE near Battery Park, in a two-bedroom apartment. The girls—I have two sets of twins, ages five and two—all share a room. The older twins go to school in the building, which makes it easier, but they still manage to be late, a lot. And the babies stay home with our nanny during the day. My commute is about 35 to 40 minutes. I love to read on the subway—one of my girlfriends likes to say that the house could be on fire and I’d be sitting there, yelling, “I’ll be out after I finish this chapter!”
I WEAR classic pieces, but I’ve got to be able to move. I grew up loving fashion. My mom worked at Vogue under Diana Vreeland, and she has great style. I still wear a black slim Armani skirt that she bought over 35 years ago, and it looks like it could be in stores now. I would always know if I wasn’t wearing the right thing—she just had this way of looking at you, and you’d be like, “I’d better go change.”
I STARTED OUT in finance as a runner at the Chicago Board of Trade during college—I would literally run all over and give out trades. It was crazy, and I got yelled at all the time. But it was such a good experience—I was shy, and it made me a tougher, more assertive person. After college, I got a job at J.Crew corporate, working in the closet where they kept all the clothes for photo shoots. It was so fun, basically a big gossip room. Everyone would come in and chat and I would keep track of all the clothes. But I realized pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to be able to cover my rent—plus cab rides, and nights out—with that job, so I switched to finance. My first finance job wasn’t a great fit, but then I got hired at Morgan Stanley, in the Wealth Management division. Actually, the guy who interviewed me is now one of my business partners. I got lucky there. I wound up on his team, and he’s stuck with me now.
A few years after I started, my group at Morgan Stanley moved their business to Lehman Brothers. While I was there, I did a part-time MBA program at NYU, and after that I got asked to run a team that managed employee money. But then the economy went south, and Lehman went bankrupt. Barclays bought what remained of Lehman, and they had no plans to keep the team that I managed. Still, when one door closes, another opens: I decided to start my own business within Barclays, acting as a full-time financial advisor for clients. It was certainly a gamble, but a good friend from my Morgan and Lehman days took me under his wing and helped me get off the ground.
Later, when I got pregnant with my first set of twins, I was worried that my business might not survive my maternity leave. That’s when I got a pivotal call in my career: My old boss from Morgan Stanley, Jack, asked if I could team up with him and another former colleague, Duff, and start a new business. I was able to go on maternity leave with peace of mind, and five years later, after building that business and my family (with a second set of twin girls!), Jack asked me to join him on a new adventure: starting Summit Trail Advisors.
WHEN I WAS LITTLE, I wanted to be Joan Lunden. I’d watch her every day on Good Morning America. What’s funny is I wound up marrying a TV producer who worked on the show.
I DON’T KNOW a lot about child-rearing; I’m just not a supermom in that way. I don’t read books about how to raise children, and I’m sure I make mistakes every day. I would say two things are key in my life: lean on and laugh a ton. And by lean on, I mean lean on others. Before we had four girls, I would say I was an A-plus type. Now, I’m more of an A-minus. It’s unavoidable and I’ve learned to let go of any guilt on the matter.
MY WARDROBE is organized by how recently I’ve worn something. If I’ve just worn it, I put it to the back, so I know I’m not going to re-wear it two days in a row. I usually choose my outfits the night before, based on what’s going to happen the next day. What clients are coming in? Is it going to be more of a client day or more of a work day? I lay out the dress, the hose, the shoes, the jewelry, everything—so I don’t have to think in the morning.
MY GO-TO MM PIECE is the Toi dress. I have two. I like that it covers the shoulders a bit, and it’s very forgiving in the hip area. It’s also timeless. No one ever looks at me and says, “I remember that dress!” Which I used to get all the time when I was wearing Banana Republic or J.Crew.
I ADMIRE my mom. When I was in grade school, she went back to school and became an interior decorator. She was always smart about finances, and has great friends. She has so much energy—it’s like she’s younger than I am.
I AM CONSCIOUS OF good fabrics. My mom taught me how to spot quality material. It’s hard to find clothes that will last, and fabric is a big part of that.
I TREAT MYSELF by taking naps. On the weekend, I try to get a nap in during the afternoon, even if it’s only 20 minutes. It’s usually when the babies are sleeping. I definitely need time to myself. I’ll turn to my husband and say, “I need a half hour,” and I’ll go lounge in the bedroom and space out. If I don’t get that time, then everyone loses, because I’ll go crazy
Photos by Takahiro Ogawa.