If you thought a career in investment banking was just for finance graduates, maths geniuses and quantum physicists, think again. Perhaps more so than most other areas of finance, the industry demands a wide range of skills and competencies, creating a need for employees from different backgrounds.
As Chris Halliday, Senior Managing Director in Global Capital Markets at Morgan Stanley explains, there’s a misconception that most investment banks aren’t receptive to applicants from humanities or languages disciplines.
“This couldn’t be further from the truth,” he says. “At Morgan Stanley we have employees from all sorts of backgrounds who do extremely well in this profession. I’m a history graduate myself.”
One of the main strengths humanities students have, Chris suggests, is their ability to look at situations from a ‘macro’ viewpoint. “Finance graduates and those from quantitative disciplines bring one perspective” he explains; “but, in any organisation, you also need people who may have other insights and who can think about a task or a problem in a different way.”
“In a global business like ours, you need to be thinking constantly about the wider political or economic landscape and the impact it has on the markets. By definition, students of history, geography or languages are interested in what’s going on in the world.”
And, while it’s important for graduates to learn technical skills, many of these can be learnt on the job. “As long as they have a good grasp of maths, they will soon pick up the technical side”, Chris says. “The training programme for new graduates will help them get up to speed with financial modelling and anything else they need to perform their role.”
Soft skills are just as sought after from a recruitment perspective, he says: “humanities and languages students tend to be strong communicators. This is essential in a people-based business.”
We spoke to four Analyst/Associates at Morgan Stanley, each of whom had a humanities or languages background to get their thoughts. Check out their profiles below to learn more about their backgrounds, and their careers.
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If you've earned or you're currently working towards a humanities degree but you've got a real interest in investment banking, take a look at available graduate schemes to get your journey started.