From Spring Week to Executive Director: how Anisha Singhal is inspiring female bankers at Morgan Stanley
Anisha Singhal knew she wanted to work for Morgan Stanley even before she interned there during the summer of 2010. A year earlier, she took part in an Easter-break insight programme for university students that showcased life at Morgan Stanley and introduced her to the world of investment banking.
“I really appreciated how senior staff took time out of their busy schedules to talk to me, so I could learn about the culture of Morgan Stanley.” recalls Anisha. “I didn’t know much about the opportunities in investment banking, and so getting to test it out and meet actual employees really inspired me”. She adds that her London-based internship, in Equity Research, was equally engaging. “As an intern I was even taken to client meetings, which gave me great insights into the business.”
When Anisha joined Morgan Stanley’s London office full time after graduating in 2011, she went straight into the European Retail team within Equity Research. “It was an excellent launchpad for my career because I developed a range of skills, such as how to effectively distil information and present core insights.” says Anisha, who has since been promoted several times and now works at Executive Director level. “I also built important connections by collaborating locally and globally with other teams, such as Sales and Trading or Global Capital Markets. Morgan Stanley is very interconnected, so you never work in a silo.”
Working in Equity Research combined Anisha’s interest in the stock market with her “fascination with how businesses operate,” she explains. “I enjoyed examining the long-term outlook and challenges of each business, and I covered many household names, so the role felt very tangible.”
Even junior Equity Researchers at Morgan Stanley can gain exposure to senior management of the companies they cover, says Anisha, noting she met the Chief Executive of a major UK retailer just weeks into her job. “I found my niche in online retailing and was soon seen internally and externally as a sector expert, even though I was still quite young. It gave me confidence to know that my opinions on the sector were valued.” she adds.
After about five years as an Equity Analyst in London, Anisha took her Morgan Stanley career in an exciting new direction. She moved to New York to join a Firm Management team in a strategy-focused job that involved working with senior leaders on important internal projects. Some of these were short-term, while others were multi-year initiatives for individual Morgan Stanley business units.
The new job gave Anisha a unique bird’s eye view of Morgan Stanley’s operations and its future business priorities. “My research background helped me as I was used to dealing with senior executives and I had the ability to analyse a company based on public information,” she says. “But in New York I also had input into the actual decision-making process of my employer: I saw firsthand why Morgan Stanley was heading in a particular strategic direction and was able to shape and influence the outcomes.”
Anisha says Morgan Stanley’s Human Resources team gave her plenty of help with her relocation – from housing to tax issues – which made her move a smooth transition. “I’d always wanted to work overseas, and it was wonderful being in New York because it’s the head office and the pulse of the business.” she adds.
Line managers at Morgan Stanley are very supportive of career mobility for employees, whether internationally or across divisions, says Anisha. “there are great opportunities to broaden your experience here. And it’s a two-way conversation between you and your manager: they may suggest possible career paths to you, and they’re also receptive to your suggestions.” she adds.
Anisha was able to further develop her internal networks while in New York because the Firm Management job put her in touch with people across a range of teams. “One thing I always advise younger employees is that networking isn’t just vital in your current role; it’s also critical to your future development. My two big career changes within Morgan Stanley were both made possible by leveraging my networks.” she adds.
The second of these moves took place in 2018 when Anisha returned to London to join the Investment Banking Division, working across advisory and execution in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and capital markets. The role was a natural transition because it combined her understanding of corporate decision making with her researcher’s knowledge of how markets react to these decisions. “Now I work with companies across sectors to help them make and execute decisions. I’ve put my previous experience to use in a new type of job, which is always a good way of ensuring career progression in the banking sector.” she says.
While it’s highly gratifying when a deal completes, Anisha particularly enjoys the first few weeks working with a new client and really getting to understand how their business works. “No two deals are ever the same; there are so many nuances, so I like the problem-solving aspect of investment banking.” she says.
Anisha also recommends a career in investment banking at Morgan Stanley because it can often involve working with well-known clients on company-transforming transactions. “I really enjoy the collaboration in my role as I work with so many experienced and exceptionally talented colleagues. I’m constantly conferring with other bankers and colleagues in departments.” she says.
Her interaction with colleagues extends even wider than that. “Both my bosses in my two former jobs are now very important mentors to me. I speak to them regularly to bounce ideas off them or to leverage their experience and networks.” says Anisha. “My advice to young women is to find yourself a mentor to help you explore different perspectives and challenge yourself. At Morgan Stanley, there are multiple mentoring programmes and informal opportunities to connect you with inspiring colleagues, which I really appreciated.”
Women at Morgan Stanley also have plenty of prominent female role models to motivate them in their careers, including Clare Woodman, Head of EMEA and CEO of Morgan Stanley International, and Susan Huang, Co-head of Global Investment Banking, says Anisha. “There’s a real emphasis on diversity here. Not just in terms of gender, but across other representations from ethnicity and social background to individual skill sets and recruiting from lesser-known universities,” she explains. “You can see this diversity represented in our student-intern and new-graduate intakes.”
Anisha has now become a role model herself for aspiring female bankers at Morgan Stanley. “Above all, I advise women, and all young employees, that they should be themselves here and should really embrace what makes them different from others at the bank. This gives them confidence, and we all benefit from it, because diversity makes us stronger as a business.”
Anisha says she visits campuses in the UK to talk to students and help inspire the next generation of Morgan Stanley talent. “I tell them that if finance is really their passion, they should have the confidence to apply to Morgan Stanley no matter their background. A passion for the sector is key; don’t apply just because your friends are.” adds Anisha.
She advises students who are starting out, that investment banking comes with challenges. “Working with major clients on high-profile deals can be pressurised, especially in the final-execution phase,” explains Anisha. “And you must be okay with unpredictable hours. Something could always crop up that you didn’t expect, but that keeps the job interesting.” To support employees, Morgan Stanley’s global wellbeing programme includes a range of health benefits and access to mental wellbeing resources like Headspace and wellness rooms.
A graduate investment banking job at Morgan Stanley also provides a solid platform for future career success. ““This is something I emphasise, especially when I talk to female students. You’d be amazed how much you learn over the course of your career…– both technical skills and soft skills – and how much your confidence grows as you solve challenging problems for clients.” says Anisha. “You get to understand clients’ business strategies, interact with their executives, and help guide them through important transactions.”