Firm foundation

The Gateway visited Morgan Stanley's Canary Wharf offices to hear about the firm's philanthropic work - and how new analysts get involved

Elizabeth Passey, Chair of the Morgan Stanley International Foundation, Managing Director in Equities.

Emma Tamblingson, Head of Community Affairs

Why was the Morgan Stanley International Foundation set up?

EP: Morgan Stanley has had a philanthropic foundation in the US for many years, and so the Foundation was set up to mirror that and to enable the firm and employees to give something back to the community. Morgan Stanley was one of the first companies to move to Canary Wharf, and so it was natural for us to focus on the surrounding East London areas, which at the time were some of the most deprived in Europe. While we still have that local focus, the Foundation has grown since and we now also work in other areas where we have offices, for example all across Europe and in Glasgow.

What does the Foundation do?

EP: There are three main activities: firstly, we match any fund raising efforts for charities that our employees undertake; secondly, where MS employees do voluntary work, we will support the relevant charity with a grant; and thirdly, we make direct grants to charities.

ET: The overall aim of the Foundation is to support education and children's health, so we work with charities and organisations that fit this focus. It is very important to us to have a strong relationship with the charities we support directly, so we don't just make grants to any charity who sends in a proposal. Rather we'll sit down and work with the charity to explore how we can work together, what the benefits are for both sides and then put together a proposal in what is effectively a partnership with them. We think that this relationship based approach ensures that the grants are used much more effectively. Once the grant has been made, it doesn't stop there - we're constantly talking to the charity, making sure that the programme is working and that our employees are involved. At the end of the funding period, there's an evaluation process. So it's an investment as much as a charitable donation.

Can you give some examples of projects in which the Foundation is involved?

ET: In children's health, we are working with Save the Children in South Africa. We're training 300 healthcare workers on how to test pregnant women for HIV. At the moment, many children there are born with AIDS, which can be prevented through a drug given at birth. We also fund a programme in London called MEND, which addresses childhood obesity by trying to get children between seven and 13 to make healthier lifestyle choices which will give them a longer lifespan.

In education, we're working on a major project in Hungary at the moment - we have 600 people in our Budapest office. The Hungarian education system has traditionally encouraged passive learning, where pupils learn mainly by listening to their teacher. Because there's little emphasis on teamwork and interaction, some children don't gain the social skills they might need to get a job. So we're working with our partner organisation there to help teachers bring these skills into the classroom.

How does Morgan Stanley bring its employees' skills as well as financing to the charities with which you work?

EP: For any of the big charities with which we have a partnership, we will typically find a Morgan Stanley ambassador for that charity, who is responsible for making sure that Morgan Stanley is giving them expertise and access to professional networks. It's never just about the money for us .

ET: A good example is a charity called Pilotlight. It uses senior corporate employees, from Morgan Stanley and elsewhere, to work with charities to help them grow, by matching corporate skills with charities' needs. We also use our in-house training department to offer access for our partner charities to some of the courses that we run for Morgan Stanley employees. Three or four times a year we'll hold a course on leadership, strategy, or how to build a great team, and invite all of our charities to take part.

How does getting involved with Morgan Stanley's community work help employees develop their skills?

ET: I think community work is some of the best training you can get, because it tests you in different ways. For example, say you're working with a young child who doesn't have the social skills you come across every day in the workplace. To engage with and help that child you are forced to approach problems differently, try new things, and be more flexible. Those are very positive experiences to take back to the workplace. And it can take you out of your comfort zone a little bit, but I think that's great training!

EP: To give another example, we have somebody here who organises a project which helps young people from difficult environments with CV writing, presentations and so on - while it's great for the young people, it's also helping the employee by developing her leadership skills. We have a number of people who are on the boards of external charities, which is also good training in leadership.

Can you tell us about some of the other charity projects with which the firm is involved outside the work of the Foundation?

EP: The firm also makes grants independently of the Foundation. A good example is our partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital.

ET: Our three-year partnership with the hospital started in 2007. We have now raised more than the £10 million for which we originally aimed, which contributed towards the building of the Morgan Stanley Clinical Building which will open in 2012. The sum was raised through employee giving, matched funding and firm contributions. We're now looking at volunteering, for example mentoring at the hospital and with the Great Ormond Street charity, and so we will have a continuing legacy there.

Charmaine Miller, Head of Training and Development

How significant is voluntary work or social commitment to Morgan Stanley's graduate recruitment decisions?

It's very important to us because we look for candidates with a wide range of skills. We recruit individuals that have strong academics, but we also ask what they are doing outside their studies. So we're interested in community work and charity work in the same way that we're interested in involvement in societies, in sports, and so on.

In what kinds of community activities could Morgan Stanley graduate recruits in the London office expect to get involved when they start at the bank?

We run an annual new analyst training program and over the last few years, we've wanted to make sure these analysts give something back to the community. So this year we got together with a community organisation for an event called "The Apprentice".

We had around 200 new analysts and we broke them up into nine different teams, giving them all a certain amount of cash to go out and buy specific items. The task was in aid of a project called the Whitechapel Mission, a London charity helping homeless people, and so all the items on the shopping list were things that homeless people need, like clothes and shower gel.

The new analysts did a fantastic job. They were really engaged - and very competitive! They went beyond what was required to get a lot more than the charity had requested. For example on the list for each team we specified five pairs of men's jeans - but one group came back with 40 pairs because they went to a factory and negotiated a deal. Some of them went to a supermarket when they were putting discount prices on certain items and got all these items for free. They negotiated with various organisations and got offers of teaching, counselling, dental services, food vouchers, and they even persuaded City Airport and some dry cleaners to donate all of their unclaimed lost property to the Whitechapel Mission. The people from the organisation that ran the event for us were speechless at the volume of stuff the new analysts brought back. The goods wouldn't fit in the van they brought and they had to get a couple of taxis as well!

We are planning to continue the relationship with the Whitechapel Mission and have analysts help out over the course of next year with cooking, food service, and other tasks. Our analysts are very keen to stay involved and I think it's important that they do so. There's a lot of wealth around Canary Wharf but not even a mile away from our offices there are people in desperate need of things we can give.

Graduates' community work at Morgan Stanley won't end there. For example, every June at Morgan Stanley is Global Volunteer Month. The firm's senior management, from Chief Executive down, is very supportive and everyone is encouraged to do something, even if it's just a half-day or an hour. There are a number of different events that the community affairs team lines up such as going to schools, pulling up weeds, cleaning parks or painting playgrounds. We also have fundraising events, for example this year we had a cross-divisional dragon boat race for Great Ormond Street Hospital, and there's also always cake sales too!

How do you think getting involved in such activities helps Morgan Stanley's junior employees develop professionally?

There was a team-building aspect to "The Apprentice" exercise. They had to have a project leader and work in groups. They had to be creative and use their initiative. They had to negotiate when they were out there trying to get the products and then later give presentations on why they felt their team should win. And we use all of these skills constantly in our jobs at Morgan Stanley. So experiences like "The Apprentice" really help the new analysts when they start their day-to-day roles.

It's also important to give them a sense of social responsibility. Morgan Stanley's ethos has always been that the firm and employees should give something back to the community - we don't live in a vacuum. So philanthropy is an important part of the firm's culture and we encourage junior employees to buy into that from the start of their careers.

In what ways is employee involvement in Morgan Stanley's community activities recognised and rewarded by the firm?

There are set criteria here on which individuals' performance is assessed. One of these is contribution to the community - we are asked what we are doing to enhance Morgan Stanley's work in this area. But people here do these things because they want to, not because they want to be seen doing them or because they want a promotion.

Is there support available for charity, volunteering or community activities undertaken by employees which are not part of Morgan Stanley's community work?

Many people do charity or community work themselves which is not linked to the firm; for example I work with a leukemia charity. The firm will match any funds raised by an employee, regardless of whether or not they're for a charity the firm normally supports, as long as it's a properly established charity.

The firm is supportive of things you do in the community in other ways. For example they allow me to leave work early to get to the charity if I'm helping them out, or if I'm running an event for them. They help me on the infrastructure side of things too, for example if I need to do some printing or advertising. They recognise that charities are not only looking for money but also need people to help them, and the firm allows us to do so.

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