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Vault’s Verdict

One of the most prestigious financial institutions in the world, Morgan Stanley is ideally looking for technically-sound, competent, honest, hardworking, accountable candidates who fit well into the firm’s culture. For students, the firm runs a rewarding internship program. Interns have access to valuable training and hands-on experience, and get a clear look at what a full-time role with Morgan Stanley is like. Some internships offer a rotational aspect, giving interns exposure to a variety of desks or products, allowing them to discover their best fits. Meanwhile, the firm’s full-time junior bankers have access to an excellent formal mentorship program, a culture that fosters the development of juniors, frequent opportunities to network with leadership, and ample internal mobility opportunities.

Although work hours can be long when staffed on live deals, the firm promotes a good work/life balance and encourages PTO. It also offers a generous hybrid work policy (allowing for up to two WFH days a week, depending on which group you work in) and cultivates a culture in which seniors respect juniors’ time. The firm’s compensation is said to be competitive, but several insiders say salaries and bonuses could be more in line with the industry average. On the other hand, benefits and perks are extremely generous, with insiders raving about the health and wellness offerings, 401(k) offering, maternity leave, and off-site child care.

One of Morgan Stanley’s key priorities and core values is diversity and inclusion, and its diversity hiring has been improving. In addition, it has many active affinity groups and hosts various D&I-related events. As for the firm’s business outlook, it has a brand-new CEO who succeeded a longtime chief executive, so there is some uncertainty in the C-suite. However, for the most part, insiders say the firm has a very strong leadership team in place and is very well positioned to continue to grow and thrive in any economic climate.


Hiring Process

“The interview process can be a bit long. If there’s a strong candidate, the team will usually want to include most people on the team to ensure that the candidate is a good fit from a culture and personality perspective. I think the firm is looking for people who are competent, honest, hardworking, and accountable.”

“There's typically a HireVue, phone call, and Superday, assuming you get all the way through. I think the firm does a great job looking for people who have the potential to be a culture carrier. That comes in many forms, but this firm is big on mentorship, buying into a bigger mission, adding value to your team. You can start to get a sense of people’s ability to do that just by having a few conversations with them.”

“The ideal candidate is very competent and, possibly more importantly, high in warmth/charisma as well. MS values employees who maintain the firm’s culture, so a lot of behavioral/get-to-know-you questions will be addressed once the financial technicals have been ‘passed.’”

“Morgan Stanley is looking for the smartest candidates technically who also have a sense of how to execute commercially. That involves leadership, judgement, EQ, and business awareness.”

Interview Questions

“Please tell me how you manage your time and tasks that need to be done. How would you describe a time you had difficulty finishing a task? What is your communication style?”

“Pitch me a stock. What is the most interesting thing in the market going on right now? What are your values? Why Morgan Stanley? Tell me about a time you failed and how you reacted. Tell me about a time when you worked in a group and someone was not working well with the group. Tell me what leadership means to you.”

“Varies based on educational background. As a computer science student at a liberal arts school, I was just asked to walk through the three financial statements and describe the various valuation methods. Morgan Stanley was the most understanding/supportive of my non-business/finance background of any bank that I recruited with.”

“Double-digit mental multiplication. Show examples of leadership. What have you been following in the new recently? Why are you interested in public finance? Tell me about yourself. Tell me about a time where you faced a challenge and how you overcame that.”

Intern Experience

“I really like the rotational program. It gave me a wide view into sales and trading, which allowed me to focus on being hired by the specific desk that I really liked.”

“I had an incredible internship. Our analyst class was very down-to-earth, sharp, and intelligent, and the culture was better than I’ve heard of from most peers at other institutions. I could have gained more tangible skills, though.”

“The only negative were the hours; it was the hardest I worked in my life. That said, it was well worth it. I learned more in those 10 weeks than any other 10-week span of my life. The team was welcoming and cared about my development. I was pushed out of my comfort zone, and it was the best thing that happened to my career.”

“The best aspects were the non-competitive and collaborative atmosphere of the internship. I felt like I was exposed to the entirety of the profession. The worst aspect was that not everyone received a return offer.”

Career Development

“Great place to build a career. You’re always learning new skills, and the job is constantly evolving. You have the ability inside of a big organization to carve out your own role and/or create something new.”

“It might not be true for every division, department, geographic location, but in my department, there’s a true culture of growing our own talent and well-thought-out support for up-and-comers.”

“My department is very focused on career development. There are frequent opportunities to network with leadership and go on coffee chats with other members of the department. There is also a formal mentorship program that has been going great so far!”

“I can speak personally to the firm’s stance on internal mobility. I have seen firsthand many examples of older employees rotate to other groups within the firm—and I have myself, too. I spent the first two summers in sales and trading and the last in investment banking. The firm also has a program called the Institutional Securities Group rotational program, which allows junior members of the firm to try out different groups over the course of 1.5 years.”

Quality of Life

“The firm promotes a good work/life balance and encourages PTO. Although hours can be long when deal work necessitates, in general the firm doesn’t want you working long hours if you don’t have to.”

“The firm is very flexible, letting the teams choose the numbers of days they work-from-home and come into the office (three days in the office is the minimum). This is a huge value add to an employee’s quality of life, as most of the Wall Street firms are now asking employees to come in four to five days a week.”

“The nature of the job mandates that you’re spending around 12 hours in the office working each weekday and several hours on Sunday. However, Morgan Stanley does a good job of cultivating an understanding culture where juniors are able to WFH at the late hours of the night and on weekends.”

“The best part is that the firm and its culture are very supportive of time with family. I have never felt shunned or like I was doing something wrong for taking time to be with family or take my earned vacation time. The worst part is we are all just very busy, and I think most roles in the firm (especially if you want to be high-performing) are very demanding. It is hard to get your work done within in-office hours.”

Salary and Benefits

“Pay is very competitive. Great benefits package. The office is like a mini college campus, with a large cafeteria, doctor’s office, physical therapy, gym, barber, etc. And the 401(k) matching over the years adds up.”

“The bonuses can be very lucrative if you’re a top performer. But compensation is under market at the analyst to AVP level (unless you come through the rotational program). At VP levels and above, the compensation becomes very competitive if you’re a top performer.”

“Morgan Stanley consistently underpays even bulge bracket peers in New York. For some reason, London is much better, so one could consider the London office in terms of maximizing compensation potential.”

“Benefits and perks are great—the maternity leave and off-site childcare benefits are the best in the industry. Bonuses could be better. Salaries are lower than the industry average and do not sufficiently account for inflation.”

Wellness Efforts

“The firm has made a noticeable effort to ramp up wellness efforts. From free mental health counseling sessions through Lyra, to increased coverage for fertility needs, to the introduction of Gympass, the firm is taking a well-round approach to wellness. The firm also does a good job ensuring employees are educated on the offerings.”

“Free virtual therapy, free Headspace membership, on-site gym and discounted memberships at other gyms, on-site medical professionals, and health conscious options at the cafeteria. The firm is dedicated to wellness and has shown it in recent years.”

“Morgan Stanley as an extensive library of wellness options for their employees. So much so, it's hard to even keep track and always know everything that is available. We have great medical benefits, resources for mental health, subsidized gym memberships, tools and sessions for meditation, access to nutrition information, and an on-site nutritionist.

“The firm offers a mental health benefit through Lyra, which is a great counseling service. They also offer gym stipends and access to wellness apps. OneMedical is also a benefit, which is great. Personally, I like yoga class in the office gym on Fridays at lunch.”

Diversity and ESG Initiatives

“Commitment to diversity and inclusion is one of the firm’s main core values. It is ingrained in what we do to be inclusive and aware of this matter at all levels of what we do. I think that’s extraordinary and necessary. I think the hard part is how long it takes to see the fruits of our labor. It just takes time to see all of the work and effort come to fruition in the data and feedback from employees.”

“Since I’ve been here I’ve noticed a conscious effort to be even more inclusive. The addition of a fifth firm core value dedicated to diversity and inclusion was a big statement. The firm followed it up by promoting support groups, and a wave of D&I-related events followed. This is happening everywhere from firm-wide to team-by-team. For example, my team and my broader division have D&I committees focused on both creating D&I-related events and amplifying others.”

“I was incredibly impressed by the LGBTQ+ recruiting efforts that I went through. It was an incredibly supportive process where I was exposed to senior voices who provided advice and mentorship.”

“I do feel the firm has made improvements in diversity. My floor has a wide array of races and an even split of men and women. However, there seems to be lacking representation in disabilities and veterans. As for ESG, there is a lot of talk about it on a firm-wide level and it is clear this is important to the culture of Morgan Stanley, but sometime soon I would like to see more implementation of these efforts throughout the business (like creating a sustainability-focused industry coverage group in investment banking).”

Business Outlook

“In an extremely good position. Stock trading very well. Internal development technology programs (OpenAI partnership) should increase efficiency across the bank. New leadership seems eager to take firm to the next level. And I’ve been impressed by the intellect of leadership. The sophistication across the bank has been amazing to witness and I have no doubt the many different arms (WM, AM, IBD) will all work together to rapidly grow revenue over the coming decades.”

“Morgan Stanley has built the right infrastructure for future growth. Firm leadership is strong. Although James Gorman is and has been THE BEST, there is uncertainty around his successor.”

“Morgan Stanley’s business puts us in a category of one. We have created multiple channels for revenue across the board and particularly in wealth management. I think we have ways to increase revenue regardless of which way the markets move. With that said, we are going to be influenced by the markets by some degree no matter what we do and that can be frustrating.”

“I am always confident in what we can control. We have great leadership in place that can handle the CEO transition, and we have a world-class wealth management business that acts as a ballast to the firm through any market cycle.”

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: Ted Pick
2024 Employees (All Locations): 80,000