4 Top Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Interview Questions

When James Gorman took over as CEO of Morgan Stanley in 2010 he spoke about the need to rapidly grow out the wealth management business.

Many at the time criticized this focus; thinking instead that MS should focus on what they are best known for within the sales and trading (S&T) division. 

A decade later Gorman's focus appears to have paid off. While revenues have declined across Wall Street for sales and trading, wealth management has seen rapid growth at Morgan Stanley (including expanding into new countries, like Canada). 

Morgan Stanley's wealth management business can be thought of as being nestled in-between JP Morgan's and Goldman Sachs'. While MS is not as exclusively focused on high net worth individuals as Goldman, they don't take clients that are quite as broad as you'd find JPM taking.

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Interview Questions

Below are four interview questions you will likely face if interviewing at Morgan Stanley for a wealth management role.

Question 1: What is one concern you have about wealth management?

Question 2: Tell me about how you keep up-to-date with markets?

Question 3: What is the primary difference between a DCF and other major valuation techniques such as comparables or precedent transactions?

Question 4: What are two primary measures of inflation to watch for?

What is one concern you have about wealth management?

One thing that all interviewers will look for in a candidate - especially at the larger investment banks - is that they've thought seriously and deliberately about their decision to become a wealth manager.

This is because at places like Morgan Stanley, significant resources will be invested by the firm into you in the hopes that in four or five years you begin generating significant business for the firm. 

A great way to gauge whether a candidate has thought seriously about becoming a wealth manager is to ask about the downsides or concerns they have about the job.

The primary concern you should bring up is a rather obvious one: that the vast majority of people who begin in wealth management are out of the industry within two to five years!

You should feel comfortable bringing this up and make it clear that you have weighed the odds and are committed to pursuing the path despite how many fail who enter into wealth management. 

Tell me about how you keep up-to-date with markets?

There's no need to go overboard in this answer. You should keep up-to-date with markets by reading through the WSJ, the Financial Times, and Bloomberg.

A good answer to this question will also name drop some equity research analysts or strategists at large banks who you read occasionally.

An example of this would be someone like Mark Mahaney at RBC, who is a great resource on all things tech-sector related. 

Generally speaking, when you can reference slightly more obscure people within the high finance role that always earns you brownie points compared to just listing the well known financial press.

As a general rule I'd avoid talking about keeping up-to-date on markets by following people on Twitter or reading articles on Seeking Alpha. You want to keep things a bit more "professional" despite there undoubtably being good content on those platforms if you dig for it. 

What is the primary difference between a DCF and other major valuation techniques such as comparables or precedent transactions?

A discounted cash flow model uses the actual projected cash flows of a company into the future - discounted back at a certain WACC - in order to come up with a valuation. This is all entirely independent of where the stock of the company is currently trading at (if it's a publicly traded company).

Comparables and precedent transactions rely on past market values instead. So in a hot market comparables and precedent transactions may signal a company is worth much more than you would find looking just at a DCF.

What are two primary measures of inflation to watch for?

CPI, which is the change in price (quarter-over-quarter or year-over-year) of a basket of goods and services that a “standard individual” would buy in a given year.

Core CPI is this same basket, stripped of food and energy given the historical volatility of those.

Here are the current inflation expectations (which you can figure out by looking to Fed Fund futures).

Fed Fund futures inflation expectations


As was brought up in the introduction, Morgan Stanley has made their wealth management business a priority not just over the past few years, but over the past decade.

Morgan Stanley's prioritization of wealth management has also led to stiff competition to get in the door. It's likely only Goldman that has a more competitive applicant process.

However, you can certainly make your way in so long as you take the time to prepare for the type of questions you'll face from behavioral through to the more technical questions.

As I've also previously mentioned, when interviewing at investment banks for a wealth management position don't be surprised when investment banking style  questions creep into the interview. Be prepared for all the question types and be sure to check out the wealth management interview guide for even more practice. Alternatively, I put together another long post on wealth management interview questions as well.

As always, best of luck! 

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