An interview with Annabel Smith, Head of Diversity EMEA at Morgan Stanley
Why did you choose a career in Investment Banking?
I actually fell in to Investment Banking by accident. I had a Languages degree and my old firm were looking for language capability on the trading floor. Since I've joined the industry there's been a huge increase in the number of taster and early engagement events for students, which simply didn't exist when I was choosing my career. We've come a long way in the banking industry, breaking down the myths that exist in the sector – highlighting that there are a huge number of opportunities available to women and that you don’t need a degree in Economics and Finance. There’s so much variation in the roles available and there is no typical day.
What surprised you about your role or the firm, since joining Morgan Stanley?
Morgan Stanley has a collaborative culture and there is a huge focus on team work. That's one thing I would advise others looking to get into the industry to consider - culture is key and whether you think you’ll make a good fit. You need to really get a feel for the organisation and ask yourself what their distinguishing factors are.
People are really nice at Morgan Stanley and I value that when I am meeting a senior leader, there’s always a feeling that they have a real interest in you.
How would you describe the culture and working environment?
There is a huge focus on our core values and giving back to the communities around us. Every two years the employees choose a new charity partner to work with – at some Firms the Senior Executives choose the charity, but at Morgan Stanley it is the employees that choose.
There is a degree of healthy competition between business units to raise money for the charities, for example Dragon Boat racing – getting sponsorship and raising money together in a collaborative way. Giving back is a strong value for us as it is also about mentoring the next generation and attracting and nurturing future talent – giving others insights to your knowledge. We are really focused on client service at Morgan Stanley and a lot of companies may say that, but we see it in practice every day here, getting the best ideas to them and maintaining integrity.
Tell us about your average day at Morgan Stanley?
I am responsible for the EMEA Diversity and Inclusion effort which focuses on attracting, recruiting and retaining the best and most diverse talent. There are a range of initiatives that I look after and an average day can vary from meeting with senior leaders, helping departments execute on their diversity plans to running a leadership programme for our diverse talent. We recently engaged in a range of activities for International Women's Day and later today I will have a call with a potential vendor on inclusive leadership training.
It's great to juggle lots of balls in the air at one time and I am so passionate about what I do.
What has been your main highlight whilst working at Morgan Stanley?
I’ve been at Morgan Stanley for almost seven years and the highlight for me has been the Firm signing the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter. There are only four large investment banks that have signed up to this and we’re really pleased that Morgan Stanley was one of the first to do so.
The Charter means that Morgan Stanley supports the progression of women in senior roles and promotes transparency and accountability of what the Firm is doing to encourage diversity. We are proud that 31% of our new 2017 Managing Director class in EMEA is female. The work we’ve done at Morgan Stanley has really helped to shape this growth in female Managing Directors and we are seeing progress from the many internal programmes we are running.
What are some of the successful programmes and initiatives that Morgan Stanley is using to attract and retain top female talent?
On the attraction front, we have a school outreach programme where female Managing Directors are paired with female Associates and Analysts who work with schools to demystify what Investment Banking is all about. The idea is to focus on the three day ‘Step In Step Up’ programme we offer to female A-Level students.
We also have internal programmes and initiatives that promote female progression within the business and a successful ‘Return To Work’ programme for women looking to get back into finance after a career break. On top of this we also have a thriving Women’s network.
What piece of advice/top tips would you give to female graduates looking to secure a role with Morgan Stanley?
Make an effort early to attend early insight events so that when it comes to your penultimate year at university and doing a Summer Internship, you’ve picked the right industry, company and division for you. It’s all about preparation and the contacts you make when you meet people at A-Level Insight Days, right through to events at university.
Find out more about Diversity & Inclusion at Morgan Stanley here.