• Bio: Kevin Gilfillan is Manager, Private Wealth Management (PWM) Operations at Morgan Stanley
  • Role: Operations Manager
  • Organisation: Morgan Stanley

Kevin Gilfillan

After finishing school I didn’t really have an idea of what to study, or where. Following much searching, I was accepted at the University of Paisley (now part of the University of the West of Scotland) to study its Media: Theory and Production course, based on the Ayr campus.

I enjoyed this course, and as I had an 80-mile round trip each day, I got used to early mornings – no lazing about and not getting out of bed until noon in true student fashion!

However, as I progressed with my studies I realised that I was not entirely suited to a career in Media, and that opportunities in Glasgow were limited.
After completing my degree I decided to go back to university to open up opportunities by studying a completely different subject. As such I returned to the University of Paisley to study a Postgraduate Diploma in IT and Financial Services.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in this profession?

In many ways I stumbled into my current career – but ever since that stumble I have enjoyed the journey I have been on. After completing my Postgraduate Diploma I started working for BNP Paribas Securities Services in Institutional Pension Fund Reporting.

This proved to be a good starting point within the industry – having to work towards tight month-end deadlines and dealing with ad hoc requests from clients. While I found this a good grounding, within a short space of time I was looking for a fresh challenge.

After working at BNP Paribas for nearly 18 months, I took the opportunity to join Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management (PWM) Operations, in Client Reporting. Immediately I was hit by the change in pace and breadth of functions covered within PWM.

The team that I joined had recently been set up to transition functions from London, New York, Chicago and Zurich to a centralised location. Due to the five-hour time zone advantage, the majority of the work undertaken is for the US business.

The team was under a great deal of pressure to transition work quickly without having an adverse impact on clients. The most important factor here was teamwork, which allowed us to meet all the targets that had been set.

Background on qualifications and training

While at BNP Paribas I started working towards the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment’s (CISI), Investment Administration Qualification (IAQ), passing three exams. After leaving university I was still keen to learn and found the opportunity to study towards an industry recognised qualification was too good to miss.

Since joining Morgan Stanley I have continued with my studies, achieving two more IAQ exams, the Advanced Certificate in Operational Risk and Global Operations Management unit which resulted in me achieving the CISI Diploma in Investment Operations. Achieving qualification is of great pride for me, as the many hours of studying paid off. Continuing with professional qualifications and applying theory learned to real life case studies is a great way to stay ahead of the pack. Although nothing rivals experience, having theoretical knowledge to underpin experience is a fantastic advantage to have.

Morgan Stanley also has a dedicated training department on site that offers a wide range of courses, which I try to take advantage of when time allows. In addition, there are also online training courses which are a great way to keep learning new things.

What my current role encompasses

My current role is split between day to day production and project work. On the production side I manage a team of eight, working to tight deadlines to reconcile the PWM reporting system to provide up to date data for investment advisers and clients.

As the work is for the US client base, we utilise the time difference to ensure data is available at New York start of day. Day to day tasks vary and include – but are far from limited to – monitoring and maintaining staff morale, resource planning and recruitment.

On the project side, I am project lead for PWM International on working towards meeting new US cost basis regulations – these regulations affect all US citizens regardless of their country of domicile.

Working as project lead involves similar tasks to production – but rather than working to daily deadlines, the most important part is to ensure that the project is kept on track, and communicating progress to the key stakeholders.

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