Morgan Stanley: the bank's global business

Four senior bankers on how the bank's employees work together across the world and how they fit in here
Investment banking
Doing the job

With offices in more than 43 different countries on its employment roster, Morgan Stanley is in many ways the quintessential global investment bank. Morgan Stanley's global operations are based in New York, but many of its stakeholders and decision makers are based overseas.

We spoke to senior employees working in different divisions of Morgan Stanley's offices in London and asked them what working for a global investment bank means to them. We found out what challenges and opportunities are involved in working for a major multinational financial institution, and how they've responded to these over the course of their own careers.

Dale Todd

Director, Operations

"Morgan Stanley appeals to people with an international mindset, and the ability to think globally is something ingrained early on here.

I've been at Morgan Stanley for seven years, and I've had the opportunity to work alongside people from all over the world. Although I've been based in the UK during this time, joining an international business like ours also gives you the chance to work across lots of different cities and regions; you don't need to be a backpacker to travel and see the world.

My work means I'm in regular contact with clients and colleagues from different corners of the globe. In particular, I'm involved in a lot of the business that we do with our Asian clients.

This means that I have to be conscious of how the needs and priorities of a client operating somewhere like Japan are often different to those in the UK. Education plays a big part; here in the London office we take the time to learn how our overseas colleagues like to operate and vice versa, which means the people on both ends of the telephone know what's going on and what the other side is working on.

Operations is a global department, and we often make visits to our offices in New York and Asia and have the opportunity to experience living and working in a different environment for a few weeks at a time. It's really important to have this "cross-pollination"; you might find that your way of doing things is not necessarily the best, and that another office has a better way of approaching a problem that our team could be using here in our offices in London.

And with so much new regulation in banking across the world at the moment, it's essential that we understand each measure from every country before it's implemented and how it will affect our operations in different jurisdictions."

Fizzah Jafri

Executive Director, Fixed Income Research

"Morgan Stanley is in every sense a global institution. If you walk across the floor in any of our offices here in London you're likely to hear people speaking in Arabic, Hindi and every European language.

In many ways, I'm typical of the kind of "international" employee you find everywhere at Morgan Stanley. I grew up in Dubai, attended college in the US, and moved to London a few years ago, where I now work in Fixed Income Research.

I work closely with both our New York and Asian offices, and the fact that here in London I'm based halfway between North American and Asian time zones allows me to work with both the fixed income markets in New York and those in Hong Kong and Tokyo.

My role means I come directly into contact with a lot of the new financial regulations that have been put in place during the past few years. To understand these requires considerable time and effort, as well as constant communication across our global network.

In Fixed Income Research, we have regular calls between offices to discuss risk, marketing strategy and management issues. This high level of cooperation is very much the standard across different divisions at Morgan Stanley.

I also make visits to the New York office every quarter and travel to Hong Kong at least twice a year to meet colleagues there. We've found that global teams coming together in this way is the best way of promoting best practice. If something is working well in Asia or New York, we'll try to implement it here in London.

I'm always supportive of junior employees going to work in different international locations. The exposure you get is fantastic and it's also great for Morgan Stanley as an organisation to have people who are comfortable working across different offices and jurisdictions.

Nowadays, banks and financial institutions can't afford not to have a global mindset. If you're not thinking globally, you might as well shut up shop."

Obaid Mufti

Vice President, Investment Banking

"I was always interested in working abroad. Halfway through my second year at Morgan Stanley, I spoke to my boss and told him I was interested in doing a rotation in the New York office, and it was agreed I would spend the final year of my analyst programme there. I ended up staying for four and a half years. I was promoted to associate while I was out there and returned to the London office as a vice president about two years ago.

There's certainly a difference between going to somewhere like New York on holiday and living and working there. One of the hardest things I encountered was leaving my social circle in London behind and starting afresh. It was tough at first, but it's good to learn to push yourself, both in and outside of work.

While there are some differences between working in London and New York, one thing is for sure: there's a common culture at Morgan Stanley which means that people share the same mindset and way of doing things, wherever they're based.

As an associate in the M&A team, I was involved in some significant deals during my time in New York. Some of them were incredibly complex, very high-profile and provided a huge learning opportunity - so the level of responsibility, even for me as a relatively junior team member, was enormous.

I found the whole experience immensely enjoyable and working overseas is certainly something I'd recommend to anyone starting out in banking. Morgan Stanley was very accommodating and helped a huge amount with my move to New York.

As Morgan Stanley is a global organisation, I've found a lot of senior people here have vast experience operating in or closely with different jurisdictions, and are keen to promote this way of working and to enable others to experience it. They want to maintain this tradition of sharing skills and expertise internationally."

Sarah Hurst

Vice President, Finance

"I joined Morgan Stanley 13 years ago in Finance, the part of the bank that manages the bank's own financial position and business strategy. During my time here, I've also spent five years in Technology.

While it's fair to say there's always been a strong global focus at Morgan Stanley, it's fascinating to see how developments in technology have allowed us to improve the international services we offer our clients and the quality of the communications between offices and people in different parts of the world.

We may be headquartered in New York, but we're truly a global business. Our employees come from all four corners of the globe meaning Morgan Stanley has a hugely diverse workforce of different cultures and work practices, not to mention time zones!

Having worked in both Finance and Technology, I've enjoyed a privileged vantage point from which to witness the bank's global expansion over the past few years.

Over the past decade we've continued to improve our IT support teams and systems, which has allowed us to better manage Morgan Stanley's global business across different cities and continents. This has seen the opening of new offices both to support new business and to leverage the particular skills found in these new regions, expanding further the global nature of our teams.

Markets in some regions are more active than others at certain times of day, so the pressure switches between different teams. Constant communication is required between IT specialists and developers, as well as regular virtual and on-site training, to make sure we're supporting our colleagues when needed.

While Finance tends to encounter fewer of these types of logistical challenges, there are still things to be aware of when working across different locations. Again, clear and timely communications between regions are crucial, particularly when there could be differences in the way in which regions do things.

Overall, my time at Morgan Stanley has taught me that you don't necessarily have to travel abroad in order to have a global career and to work closely with people from different parts of the world."

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