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It’s a foggy afternoon in November, but there’s a glow surrounding a group of students making their way through the revolving doors of Morgan Stanley’s Canary Wharf offices. There are engineers, philosophers, lawyers and mathematicians present, all here to learn more about a career in banking. Today is Morgan Stanley’s Non-Finance Open Day, designed to showcase the range of backgrounds that the bank’s workforce have come from, and to give students from any academic discipline the opportunity to learn how to get their first job in the sector.

Overview of Morgan Stanley's culture

Head of European Research, Rupert Jones, tells us how he forged a successful career at Morgan Stanley, having studied medieval history at university.

Memorable moment: Rupert describes how the biggest challenge in his job is getting people to change. As people get older, he says, they get more stubborn. To convince them to come round to your way of thinking you need to be persuasive!

After his talk, Rupert stops for a quick chat with The Gateway.

What skills did you learn at university that have been useful in your career?

The most obvious thing is communication. I started out as a research analyst, and doing presentations was a big part of my job. University taught me how to process and logically organise data, sort my thoughts out, and articulate them clearly and concisely – which is crucial for presenting, and report writing too. I know many students will be developing these skills right now.

Why should students consider applying to Morgan Stanley?

Like football teams, ballet troupes or orchestras, all investment banks are different and have qualities that are unique to them. Morgan Stanley is consistently in the top one, two, or three in most things we do, and these are achievements we’re very proud of. But our focus is on our people. In Morgan Stanley’s management team, we have a saying: “Your success is our success.” We think that by developing successful people, we’re doing our job well, and this ethos runs throughout the business.

Why does Morgan Stanley encourage students from all academic backgrounds to apply?

Having a diverse workforce is key to any well run organisation, whether that’s cultural, national or academic diversity. The brains of finance and economics graduates are wired in a different way to those of, say, philosophy graduates. We need to recruit graduates with first class numeracy and statistical skills, but we also want to attract the thinkers, the communicators, the influencers, and the logical people, and these could be engineers, psychologists or scientists. We want to have the best, most well-balanced team possible.

What advice do you have for students who are thinking of applying to Morgan Stanley?

Do some homework. There are lots of resources available for students these days to learn about the financial sector and individual banks – this newspaper being one! Look into the differences between sales and trading and, say, investment banking. Use all the contacts at your disposal. Maybe your brother’s friend is a banker – speak to him or her and find out all you can. Once you’ve chosen your career, you’re going to be there for a long time, so the more research you can do, the better.

Investment Banking & Global Capital Markets Overview

Usman Akram and Chris Lipscomb, vice presidents in investment banking and global capital markets respectively, give an introduction to their departments. Investment banking is about offering financial and strategic advice to clients, often in relation to mergers and acquisitions (M&A), or the raising of capital. Meanwhile, global capital markets helps clients raise money through issuing shares or bonds for sale on the financial markets.

Usman comes from an engineering background while Chris studied philosophy. Both go on to outline the career paths they’ve taken and advise on how to progress in banking.

Memorable moment: Usman recommends two books that he thinks anyone considering a career in banking should read. Bryan Burrough and John Helyar’s Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco is a deal-focused insight into the sector, whereas John Rolfe and Peter Troob’s Monkey Business: Swinging Through the Wall Street Jungle is a more lighthearted look at a life at an investment bank.

Sales & Trading Overview

Dominic Freemantle is Head of European Sales and Capital Inductions. Sales, he explains, is the process of advising clients on current or potential investors. The sales department also has to find new clients and strengthen the bank’s relationships with existing ones. Once the sales team have advised the client on which investments they should buy or sell, the trading department is where the transaction is executed.

Because their pool of potential clients is so diverse, Dominic’s team recruits people with vastly disparate academic backgrounds, evidenced by the fact that Dominic’s own degree was in zoology!

Memorable moment: Dominic talks us through a hypothetical sales pitch. He might use his contacts within Morgan Stanley to gain access to an individual planning to set up a hedge fund. He would then build a relationship with that individual over as long as 18 months, advising them on every aspect of investing until he’s become indispensable to their planning.

Firmwide Panel Discussion

Six Morgan Stanley analysts, associates and interns from six different academic backgrounds tell us how their degrees have assisted them in their working lives and give advice on how to carve out a career at the bank. Everyone has been impressed by the people at Morgan Stanley, with the training and support they’ve received, and with the level of responsibility they’ve been given early on in their career.

Memorable moment: Daniel Richardson has recently completed an internship in Morgan Stanley’s technology team and has been recruited to start next year as an analyst. He tells us how during the ten-week programme he got to play a role in rebuilding the bank’s careers site. He was both surprised, and delighted, at being so involved in such a crucial project. Being able to see his work online right now is something he says he never expected from an internship.

Tour of the sales and trading floor

Our guide is Mike Hart, a sales analyst who studied geography at Exeter. As he guides us through the different areas of the floor, he talks us through what he does, fielding questions along the way. The most striking thing about this big room is the amount of technology. On every desk is a host of computer screens and Bloomberg terminals, with graphs and charts, numbers and tables. The traders and sales people are wired into these, speaking into headsets and studying reams of statistics. While the busiest time on the floor is first thing in the morning, there’s still a real buzz around the room as we head into evening. To our left, there’s an excited trader liaising with a contact in French; to our right, someone rushes from their desk, waving a piece of paper in the air. There can be few livelier workplaces than this!

Demystifying the Application & Online Testing Process

By this stage, a show of hands confirms that most of the students present have decided to apply for a summer internship or a place on Morgan Stanley’s Spring Insight Programme. But what makes a successful application? A member of the graduate recruitment team gives us her top tips:

CV/cover letter

  • All candidates need to provide a CV and a cover letter on making an application.
  • Your CV should detail your education and relevant experience to date, and should be no more than two pages for those with less than three years work experience – one if possible.
  • “Work Experience” and “Industry Experience” should be two separate headings, with any open days and industry events you’ve attended coming in the latter.
  • Your cover letter is a different document to your CV and contains different information. It should present the rationale behind your application and should outline what makes you suitable for the role. It should be no longer than one page.
  • Don’t redraft Morgan Stanley’s website on your cover letter, as it was probably written by the people who’ll read your application. Nor should you write anything in your cover letter that you couldn’t talk about in detail at an interview.

Online tests

  • All candidates need to complete an online test, even for first year programmes.
  • Practice makes perfect. so try to take sample tests and sign up for one of the firm’s online testing workshops on campus.

Interviews

  • Candidates complete three to four first round interviews, some of which may be conducted on the telephone. Make sure you’re in an appropriate place to take a telephone call.
  • Preparation is key! Know your CV and cover letter inside out. Research Morgan Stanley and what the different parts of the bank do. The more familiar you are with the organisation, the more relaxed you’ll be on the day – and relaxed candidates perform best!
  • Prepare examples of times you used relevant skills effectively, such as teamwork, leadership, and flexibility.

Final round assessment centres

  • Candidates face one-to-one interviews, as well as other competency linked assessment exercises.
  • Some of the biggest mistakes come in group assessments. Show your collaborative and teamworking skills by participating fully .
  • If your team’s task isn’t going well, step up to direct proceedings – but be careful not to dominate too much.
  • When preparing for your individual presentation, don’t start until you’re completely sure what you’re supposed to be doing – you must make sure you’re answering the right question.

The verdict

The Gateway speaks to some of Morgan Stanley’s student guests to get their impression of the event – and to hear their ambitions for the future.

Edgar Mkrtchian, University of Oxford - Law

I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to speak with people from so many different areas of the bank. I knew there was a sales and trading side and an M&A and investment banking side, but wasn’t aware of some of the other areas, like operations, and the important work that’s done there. Walking through the trading floor was a real treat for me too. My next step is to apply for Morgan Stanley’s summer internship programme.

Lloyd Smith, Loughborough University - Maths

Today has been absolutely fantastic. We have some events on campus, but we don’t necessarily get to hear from and speak to the people who actually do the jobs we want to do. Today’s been a chance to get advice from these people.

I’ve been a bit intimidated by some financial jargon in the past, but it’s reassuring to learn that they select for your personal qualities rather than your academic background. All the technical stuff can be picked up later.

Sorella Smith, University of Bath - Civil Engineering

My biggest misconception of people in finance has been altered today. Everybody has been so enthusiastic, friendly and helpful here. Before, I never thought that people in the industry would be, but Morgan Stanley have helped alter my opinions! I’ve only really started to consider a career in the industry recently, but am definitely going to apply to Morgan Stanley’s spring programme after today.  

By

Finbarr Bermingham
Former Assistant Editor

Published

Issue 46

p18

23 November 2011

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