What Vishwanath Tirupattur has discovered about Morgan Stanley since he came to the firm in 2004 is just how far he can go. “Morgan Stanley is very good at creating opportunities for people to take on greater responsibility,” he says. “There’s a high degree of expectation in terms of competence, expertise and performance. And the firm rewards you for delivering those things.”
Perhaps that explains why Tirupattur—who holds a PhD in economics from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and is affectionately called “Vishy” by everyone who works with him—wears so many hats: He is responsible for global securitized product strategy, manages fixed-income research in North America and leads the firm’s global efforts in quantitative research in both fixed income and equities, including a recent effort focused on systematic rules-based investing strategies. And he still keeps a standing date every weekend with his wife, an economist-turned-full-time-artist, to attend a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or a concert at Lincoln Center. Tirupattur shares his insights on Navigating Credit Markets in this Morgan Stanley Minute.
I would say it’s the chance to explore things in a commercially sensible way. Many years ago, I was in academic research. But now, while I’m still doing research—my 15 years here has been devoted almost entirely to research—I’m not doing research for the sake of research. I’m doing research that adds to the investment insight of our clients.
For one thing, there’s opportunity if you are willing to put the work in. And it’s very receptive to new ideas. For example, there was no dedicated residential housing strategy effort in Fixed Income Research, at a time when housing was at the eye of the storm. I knew that was actually really important at the time and I started doing it, and the firm let me do it. If you are entrepreneurial, the firm lets you be entrepreneurial. You have the opportunity to grow, not just in your career, but intellectually.
The first thing I look for is strong analytical grounding: To be able to identify and diagnose a problem, build a model to analyze it and then interpret the results. You’re constantly challenged in this job by what the markets throw at you, and you have to be able to meet those challenges by thinking analytically. The second thing is the ability to articulate your ideas: to small groups, large groups, internal clients, external clients—and to engage in a lot of give and take between people, internally and externally. And the third thing I look for is the ability to make linkages between various markets. Take the 2008 financial crisis as an example. It originated in the subprime housing markets and then it ended up consuming the entire global economic system. Understanding and explaining those linkages was essential to understanding the scope and the dimension of the crisis and to answering the questions: How do we respond to that? How do we help our clients navigate that crisis and guide them in their investment decision-making process?
We’ve done many things to be proud of. But I’m especially proud of what we’ve been able to do as a team. We’ve established a strong collaborative research culture. We have had several out-of-consensus market calls, sparking key market debates. I find it heartening that even when investors disagree with us, they want to engage with us. So our client engagement has grown substantially. Not surprisingly, we have moved up meaningfully in external surveys. Similarly, the credibility of our views on the markets has grown notably within the firm and with key risk takers within the firm. All of this has been a solid team effort and that is something that makes me very proud.