Morgan Stanley: the graduate diaries | Investment banking on The Gateway

Morgan Stanley: the graduate diaries

Every week, three graduate recruits at investment bank Morgan Stanley tell us about their experiences in their jobs

Week 12: Signing off

As the last in the current Graduate Diaries series we asked each of our bloggers to discuss their experiences at Morgan Stanley so far, what they’d learnt and what they felt were the biggest achievements and challenges along the way. This is what they said.

What would you say is the biggest achievement you’ve had since joining Morgan Stanley?

Sid: I really enjoyed the two initiations I’ve been able to work on so far. It’s a great feeling getting to lead an important transaction and to be able to see the direct results of your work.  

Megan: In my case I think it’s been getting my head around not one, but two different businesses in a short space of time. Having switched desks a few months back I’ve needed to understand how both divisions work and how they fit into the bigger picture of the firm.

Julia: The thing I really enjoy is being able to hold conversations with far more experienced colleagues about different topics and offer my own take on things. It shows how much you can learn in so little time when thrown into a fast-paced, demanding environment like this one.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced?

Sid: I’d say learning to deal with pressure. As an equity researcher, you are very much in the public eye, which means everything you write could potentially come under scrutiny.  You need to really think carefully about your views and be ready to defend them if necessary. 

Megan: Again, it’s probably been the challenge of having to learn two different roles in relatively quick succession. There’s only so much you can learn through research and reading so more often than not it’s just a matter of getting stuck in and learning as you go. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you really have to.

Julia: Like anyone coming straight from university, making the jump from student life to a full-time job takes some adjustment. Especially when you’re going into an intense working environment like the trading floor. It means having to adapt to an entirely new life style.

What are your main goals going forward?

Sid: I want to continue building my sector knowledge and getting better at doing what I do. There’s no room for complacency at Morgan Stanley; there’s always something here to challenge you and to keep you on your toes! 

Megan:  There are so many different roles and opportunities open to you in investment banking and finance. I don’t know exactly where I’ll end up but, having been able to work increasingly with clients and key stakeholders over the past few months, I’d definitely like this to be a longer-term focus of mine.

Julia: One of the great things about working here is that when they say they’re going to hand you responsibility from the get-go, they really mean it. My main aim is to take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and to make sure I have the skills and knowledge to be able to run with this.  The other thing is to make sure I never stop being curious and asking questions.

What would your advice be for someone looking to work in investment banking?

Sid: I’d say go in with as few expectations or pre-conceptions as possible, and just expect the unexpected. Having the right attitude is also important. Nothing in life is given to you on a plate; it’s up to you to push yourself and to make things happen.

Megan: Whatever stage you’re at in your career it’s really important to ask questions. Luckily this is something that’s readily encouraged at Morgan Stanley. It’s a cliché but there really are no stupid questions; there are lots of smart people working in this industry so take advantage of it.

Julia: My advice for anyone thinking about a career in finance would be first to identify what you hope to get out of your first role and the skills you want to acquire. No two divisions or desks are alike so choosing the right place to start to your career is crucial. What tools do you want to be equipped with near the start of your career?


Week 11: Busy, with a capital ‘B’

Sid

Back in the office, I’ve been able to return to what I know and love: research and reporting on companies. 

There is a lot to keep track of; over the past few weeks we’ve been seeing significant movement in European stock prices as investors react to a flurry of new developments in the eurozone and its borders.  

Everywhere, the market is rife with speculation about what’s happening: is the recent price movement due to fundamentals or are we merely seeing the combined impact of the ECB’s Quantitative Easing programme and low interest rates?

As equity research analysts, it is our job to ask ourselves difficult questions and analyse situations closely to form market views and opinions. For example one of the questions we ask ourselves is whether there’s a new financial bubble forming, similar to the one that was seen in 2007 as the world gravitated towards financial crisis. Another theory could be that low interest rates (and therefore inflated equity markets) are the new norm and something we will just gradually become more used to seeing.

Perhaps one of the best parts of the job we do is that we are encouraged to think outside the box and to voice our own opinions. With a lot of creative, opinionated people in close proximity, as you can imagine, this often means some lively debate on the desk.

Megan

With the beaches of Rio a distant memory, this week has felt like an important milestone in terms of developing my skill-set and gaining new experience.

My desk has been busy preparing for a corporate action, which is when a publicly traded company makes a decision that may affect the quantity of company stock being traded or its share price.

For those of us on my desk, this means a lot preparation in the lead-up to the event. The day before the action, in particular, we needed to keep a close eye on the stock’s position to monitor for any changes and to make a final note of the price at the end of the day before trading is suspended.  It also means coordinating with the other teams involved in the process here at the firm, including the trade support team. 

Outside of this, I’ve also enjoyed being involved in graduate recruitment for Morgan Stanley at Warwick, which means travelling to campus events and talking to students about roles at the firm. It’s funny to think I was in a similar position to them not so long ago.

Julia

“Full on” is probably the way to best describe my work life at the moment. I’ve been engrossed in a big project, which has been receiving all of my focus.

This is the kind of work you hope you’ll be doing as a graduate and which the various brochures and campus fairs promise – it is rewarding in its depth and the opportunities it offers you as a junior analyst. I’m lucky to be at a firm that follows through on such promises; some of my friends haven’t been as fortunate. If it’s responsibility you’re after, then you’ll get it here in droves.

Day to day, I’m chatting to clients on the phone; I’m building my models, they’re building theirs and then it’s time to compare notes. It can lead to some very interesting conversations and the collaboration helps to fortify and question your arguments. This is key to building any strong investment (or otherwise) thesis. Before you know it, it's the end of the day and you’re asking yourself “where has all the time gone”?


Week 10: A change of pace

Sid

After all the to-ing and fro-ing of the past couple of weeks it’s nice to be back in the office and on solid ground. The investor education phase of the roadshow I’ve being working on has drawn to a close and, as we move into the final stages of the IPO process, it’s time for us in the equity research team to sit back and watch events unfold. 

As the analysts who have worked on the deal, we now enter the traditional lock-out period where we’re not permitted to report on the newly-listed company during its first 40 days on the market. Once this period is up we’ll begin reporting on the firm and its performance like we would any other. 

Getting to see the whole IPO evolve from start to finish has been fascinating, if fairly exhausting. We’ve been working closely with Sales who originated the deal, as well as other members of the investment banking team, which has meant getting to see the process from a range of different angles. It’s been a great ride, but I might need a bit of a rest before I start work on my next one!

Megan

After a couple of weeks ‘out of office’, I’ve returned to work refreshed and with a great set of holiday photos to show for myself. 

It’s always a bit of an adjustment returning to work life; from the Rio Carnival and Igauçu Falls, I now need to switch my focus back to interest rates and derivatives. 

We are always encouraged to take a complete break from the financial markets while we are away and leave our work phones behind, so there’s usually quite a bit to catch up on when stepping back into the office. The first few hours back are usually spent sifting through team emails and getting myself up to speed with everything that’s been going on while I’ve been away, though pretty soon it’s business as usual.

As much as I enjoy the distraction of a holiday, it’s great having a good group of colleagues to come back to and a set role to play. Taking time out is important, 

but you tend to miss the energy of the office and the pace of the financial markets. 

Julia

I spent a great deal of time debating the art of ‘seeing’ last week and on this occasion the lens was turned on me: 150 Hedge fund clients looked towards me while I pitched a trade to a conference crowd. This is altogether a different kind of seeing, blinded by a hot light and eyes fixed on your notes that you’ve recited over and over. 

The conference went really well and, after emerging from a half-day of EBITDAs, Covenant and curve speak, we all gladly turned to cooled drinks and miniature food to steel us for the afternoon’s Q&A session. In my case, this was to last for four successful hours – something I had not adequately dressed for in my un-broken-in high heels. 

If responsibility is what you’re looking for then Morgan Stanley really is the place to find it. For me, this has been the greatest satisfaction of these first 10 months at the firm; there are very few places I can think of that will offer you that same opportunity, so very, very soon.

Next time, however, I’m wearing brogues.


Week 9: Seeing clearly

Sid

I’ve been out and about quite a bit these past few days. The end of last week saw me jet off to Frankfurt to attend a Capital Markets Day being held by one of the companies in my coverage group.

This is an event that firms regularly hold for analysts and investors. It’s an opportunity to highlight their latest developments, a new product or a change in strategy and to generally paint themselves in a good light versus their competitors.

For us as analysts it can be an extremely useful way of seeing a company at close quarters and getting to know it as something more than just a set of figures on a balance sheet. These kinds of events are always attended by senior management so it’s a chance to ask all the questions you’ve been wanting to ask about the company’s current performance and where it’s headed. 

No sooner having returned to London than I’ve started work on an exciting new project: the investor education phase of an IPO. This means scheduling meetings with potential investors to talk about a company that is being brought to market by Morgan Stanley. It also means I have plenty more travelling in store over the next few days. 

Julia

Every morning our Bloomberg programmes greet us with an inspirational quote. For some reason today’s offering was particularly thought-provoking for me: 

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see” – Henry David Thoreau.

It was almost as though it was speaking directly to me. In my role as an analyst it’s essential to understand the difference between ‘seeing’ as opposed to just ‘looking’.  It’s about being able to read between the lines of certain situations and uncover information and the small, important details that are easily overlooked at first glance. 

It’s a bit like facing a point guard’s dribble, knowing his left shooting guard has more energy at the end of the 3rd quarter than his right.  

Anticipating, assessing, strategising and questioning: these are the attributes of ‘seeing’. It’s what will make the difference between a winning trade and a losing one – one too late, or ahead of the curve. 

Sometimes it takes a while for things to come into focus. I’ll be analysing data and suddenly I’ll be able to ‘see’ clearly all the key details that I missed yesterday.  Then again, maybe I just need some glasses.


Week 8

Sid

Much of the past week has been spent gearing up to publish our view on the ECB’s recent Quantitative Easing (QE) announcement. It’s something we’ve been building towards in the equity research team since the original announcement back in January. Our role is to measure the impact on the value of the euro against other currencies and, in particular, on the companies we cover.

Our clients are always keen to understand the currency market exposure of the companies they are invested in. However, FX risk, as we call it, tends to be one of the hardest things to analyse. It’s a bit of a black hole with few firms choosing to report accurate data on how their revenues are broken down by different regions and currencies.

With relatively little information out there to work with, we need to come up with our own solutions for working out what’s what. A certain amount of good detective work is usually required.  That means a lot for me to get through before I fly off to Germany on a work trip in a few day’s time.

Megan

With a couple of colleagues off sick, I have had the opportunity to fill in on my old team to cover for those who are currently out of action.  

Knowing how things work and where everything is has allowed to me slot back in with my old team relatively easily.  It’s been great having an opportunity to catch up with people, finding out about the latest deals and everything else that’s been going on in our sector over these past few weeks. 

Although I’ve only moved a few feet away, everyone is always so busy that it’s hard to find the time to touch base properly with people during the course of a busy working week.  
Aside from getting my head back around my old sector (and still getting my current role done), I’m jetting off to Brazil for a two-week break in a few day’s time so trying to avoid coming down with something that could hinder my travel plans!  

Julia

From having spent much of last week interviewing applicants for Spring Insight positions, this week I’ve been the one having my eyes opened again. The other day I was part of a small group of analysts and associates attending a bespoke ‘top-up’ session on accounting and Excel.  
While the initial training we received on joining the firm was extremely thorough, it’s not until you actually start on the job that can fully appreciate the elements of the training that are most crucial for you. Having a good grasp of Excel is especially important for us as it gives us the tools to build coherent, dynamic financial models – it also makes us quicker.  
Of course, the principal part of our training is ‘on-the-job’ and there are always people on the team to turn to for advice. However, stepping back, away from our day-to-day projects, and supplementing our practical knowledge with theory has proved incredibly valuable. 


Week 7: New insight

Sid

Recent economic and political events have certainly shaken things up a bit here in Equity Research. First there was the news of the European Central Bank’s Quantitative Easing programme, which, in terms of its size, was much more positive than the majority of the market was expecting.

However, this bullish market response was short lived somewhat after the Greek election results caused some considerable volatility in the currency markets.

The majority of the companies we analyse are European-based, so we have to make sure we are on top of major events when they occur. Our job in Equity Research is to analyse the information coming in and then overlay this with our take on events and what we think they mean for the market. 

We’re encouraged to try to look at things from different angles to the ones people have already considered. This tends to lead to plenty of brainstorming and debate within the team; the hard part is deciding between the angles that are worth pursuing and the ones that are just ‘good ideas’. 

Megan

It’s been a busy week here on the Flow Derivatives desk. We’ve been working on arranging a margin loan, which has meant everyone pitching in and working round-the-clock to ensure the deal goes through on time.

As part of the deal process, the desk works with various divisions at Morgan Stanley as part of the transaction. This means lots of liaising and conversations with other departments. 

It’s great to be communicating with other areas of the business; it’s a window into other people’s roles and how each one fits into the bigger picture of the firm. It’s what we like to call a ‘front to back view’: you get to witness the expertise of the firm, from those on the front-line in direct contact with the client, to the people working behind the scenes to make the deal happen. 

For someone relatively new to the financial sector, it’s been a great eye-opener and a massive learning opportunity. 

Julia 

This past week I interviewed my first candidate for a Spring Insight role here at the firm. It’s as if I’ve somehow come full circle since I started here early last year.

I put myself forward to be involved in recruiting for Morgan Stanley when I first joined. My personal application process (long ago) was overwhelmingly paved by the Morgan Stanley people I met along the way. Given the positive experiences I had and continue to have, I was really keen to become a part of the process.

The candidates I met were all first-year students and very new to finance. What they lacked in technical knowledge they more than made up for in intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm. These are the two attributes we seek most – technical knowledge can be acquired, enthusiasm and curiosity are much harder to teach.

I’ve really enjoyed sitting on the other side of the interview desk and the shoe being on the other foot for a change, though, given how young many of the students are, it does make me feel quite old!


Week 6: adding value

Sid

The past week has been pretty intense as we enter into the thick of the financial reporting season.

Technology companies generally release their results early in the morning, around 5:30 or 6:00 am, so we need to be in the office early to digest the information coming in and decide how to relay this to our clients.

We're a competitive bunch so there's an element of rivalry between research teams at all the different firms. Some teams aim to be the first to get their report out to the market, which generally means providing quick, bite-sized commentaries.

We're generally a bit more flexible: sometimes we'll produce a short, snappy research note or else we'll produce more in-depth analysis and make sure it adds value to what's already out there. The latter means we can afford to wait a little longer before releasing it to clients.

Though definitely hard work, reporting season is probably the most challenging and exciting time to be working in research. You need to be focused and well rested to be on the top of your game, which means a few early nights are in order.

Megan

I'm fast approaching my one-year anniversary of joining Morgan Stanley and it's hard to believe how quickly the time has passed.

You might think that in most jobs things get easier and less challenging with time, but this really hasn't been the case.

It's only a few weeks into a new year and a new division, but already things are now fully up and running. Like anything, when you switch to doing something new, things can be a bit slower to start off with as you try to adjust and get your head around everything. However, my team have been patient with me and willing to take the time to show me how everything works.

I've also had great training, which has helped. It's flexible so I've been able to fit it around my work day-to-day, even if that means coming in a little earlier or staying later some evenings.

One of the main projects I'm currently working on is developing a set of user guides and procedures for the Flow Derivatives desk. It's a way of passing on all the knowledge I build up to other people later down the line.

Julia

It seems like with the onset of the new year, my role has also developed new dimensions. I'm leaving the initial training-wheels phase of my role behind and gaining a lot more autonomy and responsibility.

The biggest difference has to do with my exposure to clients: whereas previously I was a silent listener using the time with clients to take notes and learn, I am now leading my own calls. I really enjoy talking to clients, discussing ideas with them but also learning from them - it helps me to add more value to them, by being more effective and helpful.

Reviewing the news flow these past few weeks, it's evident that the tectonic plates underpinning much of what we know are continuously shifting. Oil is the key example of this, but the macro winds facing the Eurozone equally have the potential to disrupt the markets significantly.

This overarching question mark about the markets makes my job a lot more challenging, but it is also what makes our jobs so interesting.


Week 5: New Year, New Challenges

Julia

2015 has finally rolled in. We begin again at zero and with a clear slate, a cleaned desk and a new pair of loafers.

The markets are already teeming with debate: What do the Greek elections mean for the Euro; will London bid to change the EU treaties; what are the further implications of the continuous drop in oil prices?

Then there are the work-related questions that seem to greet each of us whenever January comes around. For myself and the other graduates at the firm, these tend to focus on the next stage of our careers: what are the goals I want to set myself in 2015; how can my team make an impact; what are our clients looking for?

There are certainly plenty of challenges on the horizon, but right now I'm putting all my energy into one, very big project. If it goes well it could be a really positive step in building my reputation as an analyst as well as helping my team to become a strong contender in this space.

I don't exactly know how the next few months will pan out but I guess that's what makes working here so exciting.

Megan

For me, the New Year means a new role and a new set of challenges to accompany it.

Shortly before the Christmas break I moved to the Flow Derivatives Trade Support team, which is part of the Equity Derivatives Operations group here at Morgan Stanley.

It's early days but from what I know so far, working with this new product will mean a much higher volume of trades to manage. Another difference is that the trade flow on this desk is a lot more automated. Because of this, much of my work has shifted towards helping to manage exceptions, or any other issues that crop up on the client side during the trading process.

My goal for the next few weeks is to learn as much as possible about the product and to really understand the work my new team does day to day.

I also have personal goals I've set for myself. Over the past few weeks I've been involved in a couple of extracurricular projects, one of which is the French Language Exchange Programme. This year I'm involved in running the scheme, which is really exciting!

That should be plenty to keep me busy for the time being.

Sid

Coming back after the holidays feels a little bit like going back to school. You're starting afresh and getting everything prepared and ready for the year ahead.

It's an important time on the equity research team because we're putting together summaries of what happened during the past quarter as well as looking ahead and preparing for the next earnings quarter.

Right now I'm working on a section of a report for a client which is focused on the recent currency movement between the Euro and the Dollar. Many of our clients are interested to see what that means for their business, especially European companies who have a US Dollar exposure. A sizeable swing of say 10 per cent either way could make a big difference to their revenues.

One of my main goals for the year is to expand my coverage of companies; I currently cover two and would like this to increase to at least three by the end of the year.

It's all hands on deck. Having time off for the holidays is nice, but it's great to be back in the swing of things.


Week 4: Wrapping up 2014

Julia

I found one morning recently that a Christmas tree had suddenly grown in the Morgan Stanley lobby overnight - time flies when you're working on the trading floor, sometimes at what feels like the speed of light. With early morning starts, it's often dark when I arrive at the office now which, as a long-term resident of the southern hemisphere, means I may not see as much sunlight during this time of year as I'm used to!

While large portions of the market are quietening down and wrapping up for the end of the year, Special Situations has its eyes on the possible ramifications of the sharp decline in oil prices.

For a long time, there had been speculation suggesting that the price of oil wouldn't break $75 and today we find ourselves with oil prices in the mid-60s, validating the age-old wisdom that the unexpected can and does happen. It's situations like this that make the desk I work on so important to our clients, and I'm looking forward to what 2015 brings.

Megan

December is traditionally a very busy time in the financial markets. However, my work is not as affected by this trend as that of some people at Morgan Stanley, such as those on certain trading desks.

Our work driver is more attuned to individual client behavior - and this week has been pretty busy with client orders.

In addition, 31 December is the quarterly fund pricing day, and an important date in the diary for many clients as it's when the value of funds' assets are assessed. So right now is a busy period which can result in a lot of work running up to the end of the month.

Sid

At this time of year, most equity research teams at Morgan Stanley write what we call a "year ahead" piece. In these, we present clients with our thoughts and forecasts on our sector for 2015.

Writing these involves a significant amount of corporate valuation work. Because we're now writing about 2015 rather than 2014 for the first time, we have to assess and adapt our valuation models as part of the process. It's very interesting research, and it's useful to get your thoughts organised in a single document that you can then return to throughout the year.

If you get your year ahead pieces done in good time, December can be a good time to focus on longer-term projects as results season is out of the way and we tend to see less investor activity and fewer requests for calls.

We might write some longer reports and consider changes to some of our long-standing research views. It's very time-intensive work, but it tends to be a calm time of year and it's rewarding to be able to focus closely on these projects.


Week 3: Learning experiences

Julia

When I started at Morgan Stanley in July, starting analysts were given two months of full-time training before starting on the desk. Even though this full-time training has ended, those of us in Fixed Income Credit are still being formally trained by heads of different credit business units every Monday for a couple of hours.

These sessions will run until the end of December and are designed to complement what we're learning in our roles and to understand the bank's credit business beyond the scope of our individual desks.

The training sessions can be very technical - we've had four sessions on bond mathematics. However most recently, we've had a session on sales that deepened our understanding of how clients evaluate us as individuals and as a bank.

Those who run the Monday training programme have also been incredibly receptive to ideas from the analysts on how we can further our learning and perhaps more importantly, they've been quick to implement these new ideas so that we get the most out of our training programme.

Megan

This week, I'm attending a "Let's Connect" session. This is one of the ways Operations connects employees with the senior management team.

At these events, a group of about 10-15 employees meet with a managing director or executive director for about an hour. Today, we're meeting a female managing director where we'll be able to learn about her career path, get career advice and ask questions in a small-scale setting.

This week I also have a work experience student shadowing me for an afternoon. They're currently in their first year at university. They've already spent time with the Mergers & Acquisitions team and now have the opportunity to learn about another division of the firm.

The firm's main work experience programme for first year students is the Spring Insight programme. This is a week-long introduction to investment banking that runs during the Easter holidays. If you think you might be interested in this programme, now is the time to apply!

Sid

Last week I attended a Morgan Stanley conference for clients and other parties in the telecommunications, media and technology spaces, so at the moment my team and I are getting ready for it.

The conference takes place every year for three days in Barcelona, and we invite the biggest companies in these industries to come along, have an opportunity to give a presentation about what their businesses are doing, and meet investors.

Leading up to the event, my work involved preparing for this conference - for example, I helped put together materials for our investor clients with financial and other information about the companies attending, so that they had a useful resource to refer to during the course of the three days. Many of these investors might have some potential interest in 50 or 60 companies, so it's helpful for them if we are able to provide some in-depth research.

Alongside this work, I've been dealing with various questions and requests from clients about the companies I monitor. After having been very busy during results season, it's good to have more time to spend on these again.


Week 2: Busy times

Julia

Given the precarious nature of companies in financial distress, a profit warning or extraordinary news announcement always signifies a busy (and exciting) time for us. This week, a large plc issued a profit warning, and I spent the day trying to contextualize what this new information meant for the viability of its business.

The place to begin is always the latest audited annual accounts. When companies are listed, accessing their latest accounts is easy as they're publicly available. However, we often deal with private companies, which makes the information gathering process harder. Luckily, we have experienced sourcers and salespeople that have a web of contacts and knowledge to draw from.

I then follow the chain of information as it develops - external or internal industry/sector experts, news flow, and research publications - until I can form a strong argument for where I believe the business is and, on the back of that, pitch a trade to my team. The process is challenging and incredibly fast, but being thrown into a new industry that you know close to nothing about is really rewarding as you emerge with a wealth of new knowledge.

Megan

This week, one of the equity derivatives deals my team had put in place some time ago came to a close, which meant we were tasked with unwinding the positions for a client.

The client had just finished taking over another business. It's common for acquiring companies to use equity derivatives as protection against extreme fluctuations in the target business's share price while the takeover is being finalised. To add to the excitement, the takeover was covered in the financial press - it's enjoyable seeing something I'm working on in the news.

Unwinding the deal was a complicated process and part of my role is to make sure everything runs smoothly - there were quite a few moving parts to this process.

Even though you might learn about a particular process in training, you always learn new things when you put the process into practice. Here I learned the importance of responsiveness - we didn't know about the unwinding until that day, so we all had to get on board quickly!

Sid

Over the past week, we've been in results season - all the companies we cover are reporting on their earnings for the third quarter of the year.

It's a very important and interesting time for us, and a catalyst for everyone working in equity research. We can now check how accurate our forecasts and recommendations have been, and for the first time in three months we have new hard data about our companies to give us a sense of where they're going in the future and how our assessments of them and recommendations in relation to them might need to change.

Everything I've been doing over the past week has been very much related to these results. When the results come out, I check them against my forecasts and work out where my forecasts were accurate and where they weren't. It's an important part of the process to check through the results carefully and make sure that our arguments are still logical and can be backed up.

Alongside this ongoing monitoring of the companies I already cover, I'm also constantly trying to start to cover new companies.


Week 1: Introducing my job

Julia

When I started, we were given several weeks of training, which was essential for someone like me coming from a non-finance background. I learned how to build financial models and gained a grasp of the basics of accounting.

These elements may sound dry, but they provided me with the tools to engage and analyse a company in a sophisticated way. Terms such as "financial models" and "accounting" sound overwhelming at first, but both are fairly straightforward to learn (at least on a basic level) and are instrumental in making you a better and more efficient analyst. I swear by Excel now - I even use it for my personal finances.

My specific role is in analysis, but we collaborate closely with the traders which allows me to mix elements of research and risk in my job, which makes it different to traditional research-intensive roles, such as those you find in equity or fixed income research.

By the end of my first year, I hope to be seen as a trusted set of hands to my team. We're all highly competitive people, but I think the key in these early stages is getting the basics down, trying to soak up as much information as you can, and dipping your toes in as many projects as possible.

Megan

When I first started at Morgan Stanley, I was working in connection with funds trading. But at the end of August I was offered a different role working in connection with structured finance deal-related trading, so at the moment I'm training for my new role while still covering some funds work.

I'm on the Operations analyst programme which means that you're required to rotate through different roles as part of the programme. So when this new job opened up, it seemed like a great opportunity, and it's been really interesting so far - the structured finance deals we're working with are always bespoke, so all quite different.

As they're both trade support roles, my new job is similar in some ways to my old one: control and risk management for a particular trading desk. We look at ways to make the trading process more efficient and effective.

There are plenty of new things for me to learn here. I'm looking forward to finding out more about financial markets - different products, the reasons why different clients trade them, and what we can do to help clients with any opportunities or challenges they may face.

Sid

Working in equity research essentially means learning as much as you can about the companies you cover because we give investment recommendations that need to be backed up by facts and logic-based analysis.

I cover software and IT services companies in Europe. I find this sector interesting because things are constantly changing and no-one really knows which new technologies are going to succeed. While you have to be very aware of technological detail and developments, the best technology doesn't necessarily win in business terms - it can be the one that's most cost-efficient, or that's backed by the right sales methodology.

So far I've learnt a lot about different technologies and the markets they're aimed at. I've also gained a strong understanding of company valuation. In addition, because I've had to present, pitch, host one-on-one meetings with clients, learn how to write reports, and more, I've gained a broad range of general professional skills.

Over the next year I'm looking forward to covering more companies autonomously as well as assisting my seniors - you then have a lot of freedom over the views you express and how you communicate these to clients.


Meet the graduates

Julia

Analyst, Special Situations

My job means that I...

...do analysis and trading-related work in connection with companies in special situations, such as financial restructurings and/or insolvencies.

My degree was...

...BA Politics and Economics at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies).

My route to Morgan Stanley was...

...a first year spring insight programme (April 2012) and a summer internship the following year (June 2013)

I started at Morgan Stanley in...

...July 2014.

I grew up...

...in Asia - living for periods in China, India and Sri Lanka before moving to Germany and now the UK. I've been on the move my whole life.

Outside work...

...I enjoy travelling whenever I can.

Megan

Analyst, Operations

My job means that I...

...support our traders, currently those trading in relation to structured finance deals.

My degree was...

...BSc Economics at the University of Warwick.

My route to Morgan Stanley was...

...doing an internship after graduating and getting a job offer at the end of it. Before joning Morgan Stanley I spent a few months travelling in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

I started at Morgan Stanley in...

...February 2014.

I grew up...

...deep in the countryside in Derbyshire, next to a farm and a mile from the nearest postbox!

Outside work...

...I like running and yoga - there's a gym here at Morgan Stanley so I like to fit in workouts or classes after work or, if I'm able to, during my lunch break.

Sid

Associate, Equity Research

My job means that I...

...analyse companies and recommend whether investors should buy, sell, or hold shares in them.

My degree was...

...MA Economics at the University of Edinburgh.

My route to Morgan Stanley was...

...doing a first year programme and a summer internship.

I started at Morgan Stanley in...

...September 2012 - after two years here, I've been promoted from analyst to associate.

I grew up...

...in India, Nepal, Singapore, Switzerland, Dubai, Austria, Scotland and the UK, never in one country for more than a few years, which has helped me in my role here as I'm often required to travel.

Outside work...

...my focus is on music - listening, playing and writing. I play the piano, and the type of music I'm most into is fusions of classical and electronic music.

Image: Magic Madzik ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/cefeida/)

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