Over 60,000 people work for Morgan Stanley in 36 different countries, 5,500 in the UK. So far this year, the firm has advised on $523 billion worth of deals - more than anyone else. Recently they invited students from the London universities (and The Gateway) to their offices in Canary Wharf for a chance to find out what it takes to succeed at Morgan Stanley.
On the twelfth floor of Morgan Stanley's Canary Wharf offices, small crowds of students are forming around the firm's representatives. They've just heard the talk from Chris Yoshida and now they're full of questions. Many are hovering around professionals from the particular division that they have their heart set on. All of the major departments are represented. Stephanie Ahrens, who manages the graduate recruitment programmes for Morgan Stanley across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, explains the thinking behind the event.
"The financial services industry has been through a period of change in the last 12 to 18 months. We wanted to show today how Morgan Stanley is now in an extremely strong position. At the same time, we're providing students who are looking for full-time, summer and spring insight opportunities with a great platform to join the firm and establish their career."
The students are determined to find out more. They wait patiently for their turn to ask a question and when it comes, usually they usually ask three or four. Perhaps they know that Morgan Stanley was recently ranked 8th in the Sunday Times survey of the best 20 companies to work for in 2009 - the only bank to appear on the list - and that 83 per cent of those asked said they were proud to work for Morgan Stanley. Most of the students want to know what the organisation is looking for in graduates. Sam Davis, responsible for front office graduate recruitment in institutional securities offers a guide.
"There is obviously some variation from one division to another, because we require different profiles for the range of roles that we offer. But there are some skills and competencies that are common across all divisions. One of the key things we look for is students who can show that they're entrepreneurial. We want people who can be creative in their thinking. One of the great things about our programme is that the graduates get to contribute very early on in their career. We want people from diverse degree disciplines who are able to think about things in different ways. Having those creative, analytical thought processes is something that's incredibly important in such a competitive industry."
How many of those creative, entrepreneurial types are here today, hoping one day to join the firm? Has the evening been worthwhile from Morgan Stanley's point of view?
"I think it's been a success", said Stephanie. And it's not hard to see why. An impressive amount of thought and preparation has clearly gone into the event. It's rare that students get the chance to pick the brains of senior industry professionals in such a wide range of departments; it's unsurprising that the event has been so well attended. When The Gateway spoke to students it was clear that they had taken inspiration, as well as a great deal of information, from the event.
Extracts from Chris Yoshida's presentation
My name is Chris Yoshida. I'm an executive director in the global macro sales team here at Morgan Stanley. You are about to start an incredibly exciting journey: the transition from full-time student to professional. Being here tonight may be the first step in securing a position at one of the finest financial institutions in the market. The job is exciting. The job is demanding. You will find yourself working with some of the brightest minds in the world. Words like teamwork, integrity, leadership and client centricity form the backbone of a culture that's taken 75 years to create. During the course of the presentation tonight I hope you can answer two very important questions for yourselves. One: why Morgan Stanley? Two: what's in it for you?
It is an exciting time to be joining the industry. The last 18 months have seen unprecedented change. Don't be discouraged. We have set out with a number in mind and will meet those goals. We don't start the programme with 50 or 75 or 100 or 200 analysts, hoping to whittle you down like the X-Factor. We won't be voting you off week after week. We want you here to the end. If we do our recruiting properly, everyone who starts a summer internship will finish the programme with an offer. That's where we differ from our competitors. We want to make sure that everyone has a chance to blossom.
What does Morgan Stanley do?
We intermediate capital flows in and out of the market place. That's our basic business from start to finish. We have sources of capital and we have people who need it. This is true in all of our businesses across the firm, from equities to sales and trading and fixed income, on through to global capital markets, investment banking, private wealth management and our asset management businesses.
What do we promise you?
We have a leading training programme. We give you a mentor - a buddy - a senior advisor usually. We make sure you go through training courses from the first day you arrive, right on through to the day you leave the analyst programme. It's much more than the initial structured programme in the July when you join: every step of the way we are investing in you. It's not about what we want immediately. It's about what we expect in ten or fifteen years time. It's an extremely flat system. Managing directors, executive directors, vice presidents, associates and analysts - we all work as a team. We don't have offices that wall off people - you don't need to make diary appointments to see people, it's a flat structure. One of the things that this affords you is an identity. Because you will work too hard to just be a number.
Why Morgan Stanley?
During the last 18 months, our management has been able to steer us through the biggest collapse since the 1930s and we have emerged as a stronger business. Our sales and trading businesses are generating revenue levels we have never seen before. To give you an example, core fixed income globally had its best ever year in 2007. This year we're on course to almost double what we made. But we are not complacent. This market is far too competitive. In the Canary Wharf area alone there are at least half a dozen banks who, I can assure you, every January do not desire to be last in any meaningful category. But our competitive advantage is our people, our culture.
When you ask yourself why Morgan Stanley, think of the culture. We want you to be leaders of our businesses ten years down the line and that requires you to invest a lot of your time in the firm. In return, we will invest in you. So what's in it for you is this? I can't promise you success. But I can promise you the chance to succeed. Hopefully, you'll look back ten years from now and find yourself having an incredibly successful career because you chose a bank that from day one was going to make sure you had all the tools and all the opportunities to succeed. Not every bank can do that, not every bank says that. We promise that and, time and again, we deliver on that.