Morgan Stanley is one of the oldest and most prestigious investment banks around. Like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, there is still a certain cachet surrounding the very name. In the mid-to-late nineties the firm was riding the quest of a wave. Kings of all before them, nothing would get in the firm's way. Trouble was, Morgan Stanley knew it was good and some felt that the firm came across as too arrogant for its own good.
The firm understandably wanted to hire 'the best of the best', and often assumed that people would join just to become part of the Morgan Stanley success story. Some said that the firm made the classic mistake of actually believing its own hype. Candidates returning from interview at the firm were sometimes heard to comment that the process was really just one way - focused on what Morgan Stanley wanted. At times, there seemed to be very little candidate seduction.
Of course, Morgan Stanley almost invented M&A and topped the global league tables for years. This year, they have lost their crown to Goldman Sachs. Some have said that the firm have lost clients in the past because its relationship skills have fallen a bit short. Some have suggested that Morgan Stanley sometimes even forgot who was paying the bills.
Investment banking is now more competitive and clients, of course, have more choice of bankers. Banking giants like Bank of America and Citigroup now have viable investment banking units and UBS and Deutsche are forces to be reckoned with in this field. Morgan Stanely had to respond quickly to the new realities....... and the firm has.
Gone is the arrogance as the firm competes in the markets for new talent and new business. The firm is embracing a new style and focus in the way it manages clients and hires staff. The arrogance may be gone, however, but a certain swagger still remains. Morgan Stanley is, after all, one of the places to be and the Morgan Stanley name on a resume certainly never did anyone any harm.