A cross-section through an investment bank

Seven graduate recruits working at Morgan Stanley give a short and sweet guide to what they do

Meet seven graduates who recently joined seven different areas of leading investment bank Morgan Stanley.

In this article, they each give a short and clear guide to the area of the investment bank that they work in, covering their job, how it fits into the investment bank's operations as a whole, and what day-to-day life is like here.


We spoke to: Joseph

What it's all about: We buy and sell various assets in two different ways - with our clients for a fee to help them manage business risks or to invest in particular assets, and with other parties to manage our own risks.

Where I fit in: I trade in oil and oil-related financial products.

Contact with clients: I have some contact with clients, but my role isn't predominantly client-facing.

Sport or game the work most resembles: Tennis doubles. The pace is fast but you need to be logical and, while there is a lot of individual responsibility, it's important to work as a team.

Working life

My hours: 7.15-7.30am until about 7.00-7.30pm - you've got to be in the office in time for the start of trading and stay until the markets close. The hours are relatively long but predictable. I never have to work at weekends.

Lunch break? Given how quickly the markets can move, during market open hours I never want to stray too far from my desk, so generally prefer to eat where I can monitor what's going on.

What I like about my job: It's constantly challenging - we rarely have a quiet day. It's a great role if you want to test yourself by trying to make decisions under pressure.

Best day so far: When I first joined Morgan Stanley I worked with the team setting up the bank's iron ore trading business, and the day we did our first trade was a big one because we saw the rewards of all the hard work we'd done.

And finally...

Myth-buster: You don't have to be Einstein to be a trader - many different kinds of people can do this job as long as they're willing to work hard. Although fast-paced, it's not as stressful as it might look!

Favourite piece of jargon? Candlestick chart - it's a bar chart which shows you the lowest, highest, opening and closing price on a particular day for a particular security, or a commodity such as oil.


We spoke to: Karin

What it's all about: We advise our clients on what investments they should buy or sell through our traders. We filter the reports produced by our research analysts and present our clients with what is most relevant to them.

Where I fit in: I advise on Asian companies.

Contact with clients: I'm constantly engaged with clients, either over the phone or via email.

Sport or game the work most resembles: Sailing. Our research department produces excellent reports, and that's like being in a good quality boat. However, as with the wind and waves in sailing, there's also external influences affecting what we do, like market fluctuations and macroeconomic issues.

Working life

My hours: I get in at around 6:15am, which isn't always a joy but you get used to it. We call our clients from 8:00am, and by then have to know what's happened in the markets and what our research analysts are saying. I leave at around 5:30pm and I never work at weekends.

Lunch break? I usually eat something at my desk from the cafeteria or from outside. I might read a newspaper while I eat, and once or twice a week I go to the gym.

What I like about my job: I feel I've been given significant responsibility, but also the tools I need to do the job. It's comforting to know I have the support of my manager and team whenever I need it. The training and development programmes are very hands-on and offer a platform to improve your skills quickly.

Best day so far: The day, after a couple of months here, when my boss came over, shook my hand and said, "Congratulations - you have your first client."

And finally...

Myth-buster: Don't worry if you haven't been reading the Financial Times since the age of five. Just work out if you find finance interesting, because if you join an investment bank you're going to have to work with it all day. Once you get here, Morgan Stanley helps you to learn.

Favourite piece of jargon? Dead cat bounce - it refers to a market having a small rise in value that's not going to be sustained.

Investment Banking

We spoke to: Dan

What it's all about: We advise clients on transactions such as buying another company, selling a division or their whole business, issuing a bond, or floating on the stock markets. We provide a range of services, from giving strategic advice at the beginning right through to transaction execution.

Where I fit in: I'm part of the UK Investment Banking Team that focuses on UK-based clients and companies listed or intending to list in the UK. We cover all sectors providing advice on mergers, acquisitions and other areas of corporate finance and also work with our capital markets colleagues to provide advice on financings and equity transactions. We also act as corporate broker for a large number of FTSE 350 clients.

Contact with clients: I attend client meetings frequently. On live transactions, I might also work closely with junior team members at a client organisation.

Sport or game the work most resembles: Football. You work as a team and everyone has a role to play. Sometimes your work will be relatively relaxed as other members of the team take the lead, while at other times you need to sprint. But you're all working towards a common goal, and getting there feels very rewarding.

Working life

My hours: Variable. We work long hours if we're in the middle of executing a transaction, but if the project is done or we're waiting for input from other teams we might get to leave early.

Lunch break? Always. Preferably outside and, when it's quiet, somewhere that serves good steak.

What I like about my job: I like the responsibility I'm given and the opportunities I have to learn from some truly impressive individuals.

Best day so far: Going to New York with a client's management team to present to potential investors.

And finally...

Myth-buster: You might think that you need to have a background in finance or economics to succeed in banking. But it's not true - I studied pharmacology, and have colleagues who did English, history and even Egyptology! All you need is a keen interest in finance and a willingness to learn.

Favourite piece of jargon? Fire drills, bake-offs and beauty parades - all things you encounter in investment banking that sound more fun than they actually are...


We spoke to: Matthew

What it's all about: It's about creating and tailoring technological products to support other people that work here.

Where I fit in: I work on a trade data database. We provide traders with trade data visualisations so they can easily see what's going on in their markets. I also work on providing data visualisations for our internal finance team.

Contact with clients: My clients are other Morgan Stanley employees - the people I produce products for.I work with people at all levels of seniority and enjoy the strong relationships I've built with them.

Sport or game the work most resembles: Relay - as a global team we work very closely and support each other to achieve our goals and it resembles a relay because as colleagues in one region come to the end of their working day another takes up responsibility for the work we do.

Working life

My hours: I normally work from 9am until 6pm. Although it's rare, I have worked on the occasional weekend if there has been a software upgrade to do - it makes sense to undertake big projects when most people are out of the office.

Lunch break? I try to have a proper lunch break - we have a really nice canteen, so I like to make use of that.

What I like about my job: The work and the people are very diverse - no one day is the same and because Morgan Stanley is a global workplace, I have the opportunity to work with people with a variety of backgrounds from across the world.

Best day so far: When I had to demonstrate a new tool I'd been working on. The positive feedback and enthusiasm I received was really encouraging and felt great.

And finally...

Myth-buster: A lot of people think that working in technology at a bank you won't get as wide a range of career options as you would at a technology company, but it isn't true. At Morgan Stanley there are opportunities to work on every kind of technology you could possibly imagine, including the most cutting-edge areas.

Favourite piece of jargon? A scrum - it's a morning meeting we hold every day where everyone talks about what they did yesterday and what they plan to do today.


We spoke to: Angel

What it's all about: I'm in the commodities team, which means my work is all to do with the buying and selling of tradeable products, such as oil and gas, materials needed for manufacturing, and agricultural products.

Where I fit in: I'm a physical contracts drafter. When a trader has executed a deal involving a quantity of physical oil (as opposed to an oil-related derivative product), I draft the contracts used to confirm the deal. These contracts tend to be very bespoke, so we often have to negotiate various terms.

Contact with clients: Yes, especially when I'm negotiating contract terms.

Sport or game the work most resembles: Rugby - the teamwork involved as rugby players pass the ball around and tackle the team on the other side resembles our teamwork in the department as we tackle difficult issues together.

Working life

My hours: 8.45am-6.45pm

Lunch break? I get to escape from my desk for a bit now and then, if I think I have time.

What I like about my job: The fact that I'm trusted by senior managers to pick up things that would be detrimental to the bank's business if I were to miss them. I also like the feeling of camaraderie within my team, and the interaction between everyone in my whole department.

Best day so far: Being asked to get involved in a high-level confidential deal, which I think showed trust in the quality of my work. And Secret Santa gift exchange day, of course!

And finally...

Myth-buster: People think that bankers don't have time for anything but work. Yes, we do work hard, but we have fun too. There's great interaction between the people in my team - I currently have a gym challenge on against my manager to see who can go to the gym most often within an eight-week period, and the loser has to buy the winner a cake from Paul.

Favourite piece of jargon? COB - close of business - that is, it's time to head home!


We spoke to: Charlotte

What it's all about: Our work involves ensuring the bank's financial records are correct, producing monthly financial reports, calculating profit and loss accounts for each of the bank's sections, reviewing and certifying the models that are used to price our financial products, and implementing the control measures that we're required to take by our regulators. In addition, we also act as advisors to other departments and the bank's overall management by providing reviews, analysis, advisory services, and lots more.

Where I fit in: I work in the Credit Model Control team within the Valuations Review Group, which means I am responsible for certifying models used to price and calculate risk metrics for numerous different products across the credit business. In addition, I am involved with completing reviews of non-standard transactions, technical advisory and other ad hoc projects.

Contact with clients: My clients are genrally internal such as other teams at the bank, particularly other Finance teams and colleagues in Operations and Risk Management.

Sport or game the work most resembles: I'd say Finance is most like the 4x400m relay. Everybody here has to fit in with each other and interact effectively in order for the department to function efficiently.

Working life

My hours: I usually work from 9am-6pm, and my working day can be pretty flexible if necessary.

Lunch break? Yes - I always take some time out.

What I like about my job: I like the people, the culture, and the way I can apply the knowledge and skills I gained from my industrial placement year and my university course in my day-to-day tasks.

Best day so far: There was one day a few months ago that happened to be several people's birthday and was also a day on which lots of people had just returned from holiday and some new joiners had started, so there were lots of sweets, treats and cakes for everybody.

And finally...

Myth-buster: Some students think that people who work in banking, particularly ones with PhDs or accountancy qualifications, are boring - we're not!

Favourite piece of jargon? "Let's get some colour on this" - it means let's get some more details - very important in Finance.