I Pass the CFA Exam | Pass the CFA Exam & Other Finance Exams

Morgan Stanley Careers & Interview Tips


Morgan Stanley careers and interview tipsDo you want to work in a bank that rewards people with a lot more than dollars: the culture, the career opportunities, and the type of work? Then Morgan Stanley is the right place for you.

Morgan Stanley: An Overview

New York-headquartered investment banking giant Morgan Stanley is divided into three main businesses:

  • Institutional securities, which includes corporate finance, M&A advisory, restructuring, real estate, project finance, equity and fixed income sales and trading, and corporate lending.
  • Asset management, which includes institutional investment products and mutual funds across a range of fixed income, equity, and alternative investments.
  • Global wealth management, which provides financial planning and wealth management services, annuities and insurance, and brokerage and investment advisory services that cover a wide range of investment alternatives.

In this article, we will be focusing on the culture and interview tips on the Investment Banking arm.

The History

The bank’s history can be traced back to 1854, when Junius S. Morgan, an American banker from Massachusetts, began working in London for a British banker named George Peabody. Morgan’s son, J. Pierpont Morgan, learned the banking business at his father’s side, but eventually returned to America to found the firm that would become J.P. Morgan & Company. In 1935, J. Pierpont’s grandson Henry Morgan and fellow J.P. Morgan partner Harold Stanley left the firm to start their own company: Morgan Stanley.

Nowadays, Morgan Stanley is a full-service financial services firm with 63K employees and offices around the world. As an investment bank, its glamor is second only to Goldman Sachs.

The Morgan Stanley Careers and Culture

Formal training is probably on par with other firms, but I believe that informal training/mentoring is very good here. However, this may vary on an individual basis. I have found that there are a number of senior bankers I work with who take a vested interest in my career development.” ~ Existing employee

In a way, it is hard to define a “Morgan Stanley” culture given the firm has gone through a series of M&As and the fact that bankers jump ship quite frequently from one place to the other.

But all in all, I personally find that Morgan Stanley has a bit more diversity than some of the other “1-tier” bulge bracket firms (thus the difficult to define their culture). When I was there, the firm has a lot of women bankers than most of the other firms. At the same time, people do seem to be able to work as a team quite well which I appreciate as a former employee.

You will find that there are sub-cultures in different groups and regional offices too. As one senior banker said in the Vault report: “we allow individuals to develop their own path to success: we do not have a ‘mold’ that all of our successful bankers must either fit into or leave.”

As a junior banker (analysts and associates), you can expect to work in a place where you need to hang out with a bunch of intelligent, driven yet (mostly) pleasant colleagues. Since the working hours are often pretty long, you’ll expect to spend most of the day (and evening) time with the same people in meetings, dinner in the conference room and bars on Friday nights.


  • Fast-paced, exciting and results oriented culture.
  • Exposed to high-profile, industry-changing and transformational deals.
  • Colleagues can be competitive and aggressive, but at least some “nice and caring” MDs manage to survive in this firm.
  • You can find people with all sorts of personalities but most of the time, colleagues can work well together.


  • Getting exposed to big deals doesn’t mean that you can be on the team or are assigned with meaningful tasks.
  • As in many big institutions, people may stay too long in the same role and become invincible.
  • Office politics is unavoidable especially when compared to smaller boutique firms.

The Morgan Stanley Interview Tips

Here is a typical experience from a successful summer intern. The interview process for 1st year analyst is essentially the same:

I was very satisfied with the interview process for the summer internship program (I did not have to go through an interview process for my full-time position). Both the initial orientation and the following three rounds of interviews took place on my college campus. Interviewees were allowed to choose time slots for their interviews so that class or other obligations would not have to be missed. Both the interviewers and HR representatives were very responsive to my follow-up emails after the interview process.” ~ Existing employee

As one of the top investment banks in the world, you can expect the interview process to be very competitive.
Morgan Stanley can afford to choose the “best” candidate, which typically is defined as the “ smart, hungry, and passionate”.

These candidates may not be finance majors (they can even be history an English major) but they will have to demonstrate good logic and quantitative skills through course work, internships or extra-curricular activities.

While you certainly don’t need to appear aggressive, please bear in mind that the existing employees (i.e. your interviewers) are very likely quite ambitious in nature. So it is important to present yourself to be the same, that is, self motivated, well rounded and eager to learn and ask questions.

For Your Further Reading