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Vault’s Verdict

One of the most prestigious financial institutions in the world, Morgan Stanley is ideally looking for intellectually-curious, driven, passionate, personable, adaptable, resourceful team players who are eager to learn. The firm’s internship program gives students hands-on experience, valuable training, and incredible access to senior professionals. Meanwhile, the firm’s full-time junior professionals get access to excellent formal and on-the-job training, managers and mentors who are willing to help and provide feedback, and an overall extremely collaborative work environment.

Although hours can be long and the pace intense, depending on which group you work in, the firm does place an emphasis on work/life balance. Time off is generous and respected, hybrid work models are in place for many divisions, and leadership is understanding and flexible when it comes to life outside of work. As for salaries, bonuses, and benefits, they are average and in line with the Street average, while wellness offerings are comprehensive and include many mental health resources, both virtual and in-person.

The firm has made great strides when it comes to DEI, while recognizing it still needs to improve. The firm’s culture is very welcoming and inclusive, and there are a number of effective D&I networks and initiatives in place. However, the firm is still not diverse at the senior leadership levels. As for the firm’s business outlook, Morgan Stanley has an excellent leadership team in place that has positioned the firm to continue to succeed, even in tough market conditions.

Hiring Process

“The ideal candidate for any position is going to be willing to work in the trenches. If any candidate views themselves as ‘above’ a certain level of work, they will not be a good fit. We’re looking for real team players who can see the forest, the trees, the bark, the bugs, the dirt—all of it.”

“Morgan Stanley is looking for candidates who are passionate, driven, and self-starters. Ideally, the candidate will be very intellectually curious with a desire to be challenged and bring adaptability and resourcefulness to the table.”

“Ideally, you’re a strong learner and personable. There’s not as much focus on the hard skills, which can all be learned. You don't need a finance degree to work at this firm. As long as you're analytical, want to learn, and are hardworking, you're well positioned to join this firm.”

“Like at most firms, the analyst program candidates need to be well-rounded with a resume loaded with accomplishments, volunteer opportunities, and solid internships.”

Interview Questions

“Brainteasers, DCF, merger math, accounting questions, stock pitch.”

“What do you do to keep up with the new and the financial markets? What is your outlook on the economy and drivers of that over the next three to six months?

“Mostly behavioral questions such as: Describe a situation in your past job where you had to overcome an obstacle. Tell about a time when you worked with someone you didn't get along with. Talk about a time you were challenged.”

“Why Morgan Stanley? Why this group? Quick mental math. How much revenue does the Starbucks downstairs generate?”

Intern Experience

“On every level, Morgan Stanley offered the best internship experience at any of the major banks. I have a lot of friends at all of the major bulge brackets, and everything from analyst events, happy hours, and connection with managers and senior leadership to just fully understanding how your role and group play into the organization is unmatched. Our class got to speak and has full connectivity with leaders of every division in the bank. I’m genuinely impressed with everyone's willingness to talk and help you grow—it is very unique, and I haven't heard any other bank do it like Morgan Stanley does. The work/life balance is high emphasized. The majority of people from my undergrad go into financial services at top prestigious firms, which struggle to compete with Morgan Stanley's culture, training, work/life balance, compensation, philanthropy, etc.”

“Very collegiate environment. Excellent mentorship. Incredible access to senior bankers and clients as an intern.”

“Morgan Stanley structures the internship in a very intern-friendly manner. There is training prior to hitting the desk, networking opportunities with other interns and with senior leadership of the firm, and real deal/transaction experience.”

“Best aspects were working with great people, the networking opportunities, and having exposure to a premier trading floor at a bulge bracket bank. It positioned me for a strong entry point into sales and trading. Worst aspect was the hours. Lots of midnights with 4 a.m. wake-ups.”

Career Development

“Morgan Stanley prepares employees for their job functions by providing great on-the-job training by professionals with extensive experience at the firm and in the industry. There are also formal training programs that we’re encouraged to attend. For example, there are courses on public speaking, Agile training, improving Excel skills, etc.”

“The firm does a good job of providing feedback and opportunities to improve your performance and development. Senior managers are generally available to speak about your performance and provide candid feedback.”

“Extremely collaborative environment with huge emphasis on professional development. Constant opportunities to hear from senior leaders and to join employee networking groups. Rotational analyst program allows for skill development across different areas.”

“Challenging work that has impact, tremendous resources, great opportunity to work with bright and talented people who share the core values of the organization. We have many capable people, so you have to demonstrate extraordinary commitment to succeed. You’re working with the best of the best, so if you like that, it can very rewarding.”

Quality of Life

“It's a fun, collaborative environment. It can be intense at times and a lot of work, but everyone is collaborative and helpful, which makes it easier.”

“The firm has expanded its parental leave policy, and has become much more flexible on working from home, with the vast majority of people on a 3/2 schedule: three 3 days in the office, two days working from home.”

“This is a sell-side bank. It is clear that you will work hard when you are here and are expected to be at work regularly (as with any job). That being said, it is a job that I enjoy coming to work for. The people around me are a group I look forward to spending 12+ hours a day with. If life comes in the way and I need to take time for something important, my manager is understanding and flexible.”

“People do take vacations seriously. We all recognize we are here to work hard, but we also recognize that everyone needs balance, and people can extend their careers by finding real balance in their outside lives.”

“The firm is increasingly providing flexibility and adapting to employee’ needs. People here tend to be very understanding and accommodating to special circumstances. However, it is a performance-driven culture, and, therefore, there is an expectation that everyone has to pull their weight and deliver results.”

Salary and Benefits

“Salary and bonus are in line with the Street.”

“Health care benefits, additional corporate perks, and 401(k) options are definitely the best parts of the compensation package. Time off is fair, and leave policies are wonderful. The compensation is also fair.”

“Vacation is great, with mandatory vacation. Remote/hybrid work flexibility is great part of my team. Maternity and paternity leave policies are really well implemented. But medical is expensive and not really great. The 4 to 5 percent company match on 401(k) is the norm in the industry and not really great. And company discounts are not really great and lag behind other banks in the industry.”

“The benefits are extensive and the salaries are decent but still lag behind other industries with more benefits, higher salaries, and greater flexibility.”

Wellness Efforts

“The firm heavily promotes wellness and mindfulness. There are a number of mental health resources both virtually and in-person. There are meditation programs, and speakers are brought in frequently to discuss different wellness topics.”

“They have various gyms you can go to for a discount, on-site doctors and nurses, tons of programs in the office, and they just had sunset yoga in the park. We have a mobile mammogram truck coming next month. We also have lactation rooms for nursing moms, which is great.”

“There are plenty of resources available. They are well documented if you know where to go. I love the fact that Lyra was added—it’s been life-changing.”

“The firm has had a lot of counseling and self-care options for a while but really stepped up their efforts when Covid hit. The firm also gave additional benefits such as access to free child care and a number of free counseling sessions. This is an area where the firm has really done a great job.”

Diversity and ESG Initiatives

“The firm has a great and inclusive work environment. It is very respecting of women and people of all gender, race, and ethnic backgrounds.”

“The firm’s diversity and inclusion committee constantly works to educate the firm on diversity and acceptance of all different groups. The firm feels very accepting, and adding pronouns to email tags has become a standard.”

“The firm has a number of D&I networks and initiatives that include women, race and ethnicity, LGBTQ+, individuals with disabilities, and veterans. The effort is definitely there, but you can still see the lack of diversity at the top in senior leadership meetings and videos. Management level is still largely homogenous and male.”

“Our firm has incorporated D&I into our firm values and has put an incredible amount of money into these efforts, particularly through the Institute for Diversity and Inclusion. D&I is clearly not an afterthought or mere lip-service here. However, we are still a large financial institution, and there are decades of ‘boys’ club’ mentality at these places that need to be undone. Morgan Stanley has made great progress here, but there’s still more work to be done.”

“Very strong commitment to sustainability, and a long track record of business activities and thought leadership in this space. Former Global Head of Sustainability Research is now Chief Sustainability Officer. ESG is embedded in the business, it’s not an overlay.”

Business Outlook

“Excellent leadership team that has helped separate the firm from competitors through sound, long-term strategic planning. They have grown the franchise through acquisitions and built out a team that’s passionate and motivated to succeed.” 

“The firm is prudent on the use of capital and business decisions. The firm is also well-positioned to thrive in various stages of the economic cycle due to its diversity of financial services divisions, compared to some competitors that are skewed to institutional businesses.”

“Our firm’s lines of business are well diversified and well-positioned to withstand the market turbulence and rapidly changing industry that we’re currently seeing. I feel like we’re better positioned to navigate this rapidly changing world than our competitors. Further, the firm’s generally cautious and practical nature has ensured that we haven’t ended up on ‘the wrong side of history’ in previous situations where our competitors have been shown to be in the wrong, and I expect that caution and prudence to continue going forward as well.”

“I feel very confident in our senior leadership. Morgan Stanley performs best in tough market conditions.”

Morgan Stanley

1585 Broadway
New York, NY 10036
Phone: (212) 761-4000

Firm Stats

Employer Type: Public
Stock Symbol: MS
Stock Exchange: NYSE
Chairman and CEO: James P. Gorman
2023 Employees (All Locations): 73,000

Major Office Locations

New York, NY
Baltimore, MA
Salt Lake, Utah
Alpharetta, GA
Colobus, OH
London, United Kingdom
Hong Kong, China
Budapest, Hungary
Mumbai, India
Montreal, Canada