Charlie is an Executive Director on the Morgan Stanley Equity Syndicate desk in New York. A graduate of Georgetown University, he spent a year in Morgan Stanley’s Hong Kong office.
I work on the equity syndicate desk in the Global Capital Markets group. We price initial public offerings (IPOs)—the first time that a company issues shares. An IPO allows a company to raise capital to fund its growth. It’s a big moment in the life of the company. The deal often ends up being a key branding event and allows the company to establish a partnership with its most important investors.
A big part of what we do is to help the client determine where the deal is going to be priced. On the day of an IPO, the company and its entire shareholder base, new and existing, must agree on a single price to sell IPO shares. We spend time talking to investors and to the corporate client to find the optimal price for the deal. I, along with my colleagues in banking and capital markets, typically present Morgan Stanley’s view on where to price the transaction to the company’s CEO, board members and major existing shareholders.
Working on the big deals, like Alibaba, Facebook and LinkedIn, has been rewarding, and tremendously important to the firm, but I most remember the first time I was able to lead a transaction by myself. One of the best aspects of working at Morgan Stanley is the trust and responsibility senior bankers invest in the junior team. The first couple of deals I led as the syndicate deal captain were smaller lower-profile deals, but I had much more direct dialogue with the management teams and was more integral to the pricing process. Those two deals, from my perspective, were just as rewarding as the large tech deals: The excitement of the management team is contagious, especially when the stock trades well on day one.
After two years of working on hundreds of deals, I asked about any international opportunities that might be available. A month later, I was on a plane to Hong Kong for a year performing a similar role. Though deal execution is similar for IPOs globally, my Asia experience allowed me to really expand my perspective on countries like China, Thailand and Indonesia, which I previously knew very little about. Each deal exposes you to a new client, a new business model, and often, a different deal construct, all of which build your knowledge and the type of advice you can give on the next deal.
My routine is entirely deal dependent. Variety is a major part of why the job is interesting to me. Each deal is entirely different and each presents its own challenges and opportunities. When I am the deal captain for a transaction, I may have to answer questions from investors, salespeople, bankers and the management team, all of whom are crucial to getting the deal done. The only truly fixed part of the day is typically the evening update call, when we review the deal’s progress and investor feedback with the corporate management team.
I also coordinate and consult on meetings between the management team and all of the potential investors in the IPO, and those dialogues evolve over the length of the deal process. Investor dialogue and feedback have a significant impact on allocating deal stock to the right investors, which—towards the end of the deal—becomes the key concentration for both the banks and the corporate management team.
This analyst role is all about efficiency, time management and prioritization. It often feels like you have to be in many places at once, and at first, it is overwhelming when deal activity gets busy for the first time (I remember in October 2010, we had 25 deals on the road at once). Getting up to speed is all about watching those around you and adopting best practices. Once you get more comfortable with the volume and pace of deal activity, everything starts to become much more manageable. Morgan Stanley, at its core, is an apprenticeship model, and I was lucky to have senior managers who have had a meaningful and lasting influence on my approach to the business.
I was greatly influenced by my grandfather, a business school professor, who was a huge proponent of core training in liberal arts. Unlike other analysts who come here as business majors, I was a history and political economics major. In college, I concentrated on the history of business and the progression of capital markets, and I think that allowed me to segue very nicely into this industry. Understanding trends, where things have gone before and where they are headed now, is very much what we talk to clients about every day at Morgan Stanley.
Establishing your own point of view is critical to success in this business. As product experts, clients expect us to have a differentiated perspective on a myriad of industry information and trends, all of which influence deal execution. However, I also think that viewpoint needs to extend beyond product specifics. When you are with clients, it helps to be multidimensional. Many conversations move beyond the specifics of the deal, and having something to say about your outside interests (travel, volunteer work, sports, etc.) creates a personal connection and can help de-stress the pressure of the deal. You don’t want to just be their banker; you want to establish a lasting relationship predicated on both professional and personal trust.