Morgan Stanley is a major banking institution headquartered in New York City, providing a wide variety of financial services to customers across the globe. Morgan Stanley has grown in size and scale over the years, making a number of strategic acquisitions. Today, Morgan Stanley has roughly 55,000 employees in 43 countries.
Morgan Stanley beginnings stem from the original ‘House of Morgan’, Junius Morgan’s banking empire in the 1800s.2 This financial juggernaut eventually became today’s J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Morgan Grenfell.3 Given this backdrop, Morgan Stanley is considered one of the more ‘white-shoe’ firms to work for on Wall Street.
Morgan Stanley Careers
Morgan Stanley was named to the ‘Vault Banking 50’ (currently #3), a ranking of the best banks to work for based on factors including quality of life, compensation and prestige.4 Morgan Stanley remained at #3 from last year, with only Goldman Sachs and Blackstone ahead of them on the list.
Given Morgan Stanley’s scale, they have almost any financial career option you can imagine. The firm has business divisions in asset management, research, trading, prime brokerage, capital raising, advisory services and private wealth management.
Morgan Stanley has also made a big push into ‘sustainable investing’ with eco-friendly real estate projects and global ‘green bonds’. Supporting these endeavors is a behind the scenes army of legal counsel, marketing, I.T., human resource, support and operations personnel.
The focus on wealth and asset management at Morgan Stanley has become apparent over recent years, with over $2 trillion in assets under management (as of 2014).5 The firm now has 16,000 financial advisors, some former stock brokers from Dean Witter, which they acquired.6 With the large amount of support staff required, there is a good chance this is where many new hires will be coming from, at least initially.
To get an insider’s view of working at Morgan Stanley, we reviewed comments and insight from current and former employees on Glassdoor. Overall, Morgan Stanley earned 3.6 out of 5 stars with a 90% approval rating for CEO James Gorman.7 High approval for top leadership is often associated with good employee morale.
The most common gripe about working at Morgan Stanley is the number of long hours. This is certainly not specific to Morgan Stanley and entry-level employees should expect that at many financial firms.
This is especially true in the investment banking divisions, where 90 hour work weeks used to be common (for recent graduates and new MBAs in 2-year training programs).8 The pain was somewhat lessened with compensation that was between $100k and $300k per year for someone in their early-to-mid 20s.9 Banks have reportedly toned down these work schedules in recent years.
Anecdotally, your author knows several people that have previously worked at Morgan Stanley in New York City who have had overwhelmingly positive things to say about their experiences at the firm. One such was a former college athlete who actually began as a ‘temp’ in the firm’s back-office in Brooklyn.
He parlayed the temporary position into a full-time job in Morgan’s operations department and after a few years, was able to get into the firm’s Manhattan offices, eventually landing on the municipal bond desk. Throughout his tenure as a trader on the desk, he went back to school part-time for an MBA, which, because of good grades, Morgan Stanley paid the vast majority of via its tuition reimbursement program.
Morgan Stanley Compensation
Morgan Stanley analysts are the front-office employees (excluding administrative and support staff) who are recent hires or have typically been with the firm a few years. Here, the term analyst refers more to rank than a job title like credit or financial analyst. According to Glassdoor, which provides an insiders perspective of companies through current and former employees reviews, the average base salary of a Morgan Stanley analyst is $76, 794 based on over 500 employees input.10 Total compensation rises to $101,177 with additional cash bonuses (taxed heavily).11
Associates are above analysts in the hierarchy, having been with the firm generally. The average base salary for associates is $110,150 based on survey inputs from over 1000 Morgan Stanley Associates.12 Total pay grows to $139,784 when factoring in bonuses (both cash and stock) and commission and profit sharing incentives.13 We can see the pay is higher for Wall Street associates than those from other financial firms such as PwC.
In addition to financial compensation, the firm offers a variety of benefits for employees including health insurance, charitable gift matching, health savings accounts (HSAs) and 401(k) plans. There are more recreational benefits as well. Numerous Morgan Stanley employees commented on the canteen (cafeteria) and employee discounts they enjoyed at area restaurants. There is even a Morgan Stanley store online for employees with discounted merchandise such as computers, movie tickets and Apple products.
The most common complaint we found were the “very expensive” monthly healthcare contributions. Certain key employees were happy with their four weeks of vacation time, they didn’t like that two weeks of it had to be consecutive. Of course, there is the cyclicality of working on Wall Street and there will be numerous rounds of layoffs that must be weathered at Morgan Stanley and elsewhere.
Online MBA in Finance Degree
If you’re considering a Morgan Stanley career, you need to beef up that resume, because it can be difficult getting in. Still, the firm is so large that even if you don’t get hired for your first choice, there’s bound to be another position that you’re interested in-if you’re qualified.
An online MBA in Finance degree could put you in a better position to land a front office job at Morgan Stanley. In today’s competitive environment, an advanced finance degree or professional designation is increasingly becoming a prerequisite, especially if you don’t have an undergraduate finance degree or a prior internship under your belt.
With an MBA in Finance degree, you receive the numerical deep-dive but also the broad, well-rounded business background that managers covet. But remember, getting into Morgan Stanley isn’t easy; ideally a brand name degree such as Georgetown University, Cornell or Johns Hopkins wouldn’t hurt.
Johns Hopkins University’s Carey Business School has actually begun offering an online MBA in Finance (the Financial Business concentration). This 54 credit program covers traditional MBA curriculum with core classes such as Investments, Accounting and Financial Reporting and Economics for Decision Making. But they also offer interesting electives including Cybersecurity, Data Analytics and Wealth Management.
Most importantly, the program goes beyond the classroom and focuses on the real world applications of the curriculum. Their online MBA is a very flexible program which can be done part-time while students are busy with full-time professions. It can also be extended out up to six years to meet changing life circumstances.
It goes without saying that Johns Hopkins is one of the premier research universities in the United States, so the resources available are a huge benefit to all Hopkins students (full-time, part-time or online). Students can take advantage of networking opportunities with other students as well as tapping one of the most prestigious alumni bases.
Many Johns Hopkins graduates are recruited onto Wall Street or hedge funds. But the brand resonates beyond finance. Famous Johns Hopkins alumni include President Woodrow Wilson and billionaire Michael Bloomberg.14 An online MBA in Finance degree puts you in a more competitive position than many other candidates pursuing a career in finance. And an MBA in Finance from Johns Hopkins, would be a huge help in getting a foot in the door at a firm like Morgan Stanley.