Investment banking can be persistent and challenging, but the opportunities and rewards are great for ambitious graduates. The financial and banking industry is an exhilarating and dynamic place to work, always offering new challenges for those willing to take them.
How did you get your job?
I joined the Morgan Stanley Finance Analyst programme after completing an 11 month Industrial Placement as an undergraduate the previous year. My experience as an intern allowed me to get an understanding of how the organisation works, and an insight into its unique culture. It was also a great way to gain visibility within the firm, through networking with people inside, and out of finance.
At the end of the 11 month Industrial Placement, I had the option to apply for the Finance Graduate Scheme; this required taking a written logical test, as well as being interviewed. Manager reviews were also taken into consideration, and upon success, we were informed a few months later as we started our final year at university – a welcome piece of news which allowed me to focus solely on my academics in my last year of studying.
What was the application process like?
The application process is like most other financial companies; tough, challenging and time constrained. The idea is to test you, and differentiate between the candidates. This is a rigorous process, starting with an online application, online tests and a telephone interview. If you are successful at this stage, you will be welcomed to the Morgan Stanley offices for an assessment center, consisting of a group exercise and two interviews.
This process can be quite overwhelming, but as long as you are prepared and have researched the job role, as well as the industry, you will be in a better position. Understand exactly what job you are applying for, and how it fits into the company, and the industry as a whole; seeing the bigger picture is key.
My biggest piece of advice is to be confident in your interviews – you are the only person who can promote yourself and showcase your skills, no one else will do this for you.
What are your main duties/roles?
I currently work in the Morgan Stanley Investment Management (MSIM) Controller team in London as an Associate.
Investment Management (IM) Controllers have three key roles:
- Governance and Performance – controlling business economics and reporting financial and non-financial metrics to the Business Unit (BU).
- Integrated Controllership – working with other finance teams to deliver the finance agenda.
- Business Advisory – partnering with the business to provide a financial perspective on the BU strategy.
My main roles within this team include weekly, monthly and quarterly reporting and presentation to the business on financial (P&L) and non-financial (Net flows and AuM) metrics.
As a team, we also partner with the business on key advisory projects and fund operational matters. The Investment Management Controllers have a presence on several project steering committees and operating committees (Fund & Risk), to ensure the financial implications of decisions within the BU are considered.
As an ex-graduate scheme member, I had two rotations in which I worked in the Regulatory Controller and Equity Product Control teams. This has given me a wide range of varying skills within the workplace, and helped me to understand the business from different viewpoints.
What skills are useful in this profession?
Investment Management Controller is a broad role, and suits a well-rounded individual.
Primarily, the team is client facing and we face off to the business on a daily basis, with pro-active client service, problem solving and risk awareness being key skills required. Therefore, excellent team-working skills and an ability to communicate precisely, robustly and confidently at all levels of the organisation are also required. However, given the broad range of work the team covers, there are opportunities for those more technically focused.
There are numerous projects within the team that can impact different Investment Management functions. Therefore, as well as different aspects of financial analysis, project management and team working skills are also desirable.
Morgan Stanley is a global brand, highly regarded across all the areas and markets in which it operates. As an employee, I am a custodian of and responsible for the firm’s reputation. As a team, we don’t just react to business demands, but also we add commercial value and ensure the financial integrity of the division and the firm as a whole. A natural drive, inquisitiveness and resilience are required to push through results in a large organisation like Morgan Stanley.
What are the most challenging parts of the job?
Initially, the most difficult thing about working in a professional environment was how you learn – during school, college and university, you have had the aid of textbooks and lectures to take in knowledge. However, in the working environment, learning your role is done on the job; observing people, asking questions, and most importantly, trying it out yourself. Learning by doing is the best way to learn, so don’t shy away from new responsibilities, but jump in head first and get stuck into the work.
You are not expected to be perfect from the outset, so learn from your mistakes, write as much down as you can, and ask questions until your mouth goes dry. Your team want to help you do your job, so be confident and ask for help when you need it.
During busy periods, it can be challenging to try and reach your deadlines; you have to be able to prioritise, stay in control, and tackle tasks quickly and systematically. It keeps you on your toes and is often the most exciting part of the job!