Kimberly Greenberger, a Managing Director in Retail Research, joined Morgan Stanley in 2010. She focuses on North American specialty apparel and department stores and has covered the apparel industry for nearly two decades. She is also a Chartered Financial Analyst.
Greenberger consistently ranks among the top analysts for coverage of the retail sector in industry surveys from Institutional Investor, The Wall Street Journal, and others.
Greenberger received a Bachelor in Business from the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.
What’s your favorite aspect of covering the retail apparel industry?
I’ve been in equity research for nearly two decades and observing trends in consumer behavior is still fascinating. What has certainly been the most climactic sector event of the past decade has been the rise of eCommerce, which replaced some shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. Another interesting phenomenon was that in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the holiday shopping season used to be all about finding and buying the best gifts for others. In the ‘90s and 2000s, retailers’ messaging shifted to include purchasing gifts to reward yourself, and consumers’ holiday spending spiked. I’m also intrigued by how business implications resulting from consumer behavior reverberate across other industries, like manufacturing, shipping, and oil and gas. These could also indicate a larger story that’s still unfolding, like an economic boom or recession; so retail is often a barometer of the global health of the economy.
How did your mentors help you develop your methods of research and analysis?
Throughout my career, I’ve had wonderful mentors who helped me perfect the art and science of analysis—and it is definitely an art form. Simply put, being an analyst requires researching companies to assess their fair value. A thorough study requires rigorous and objective scrutiny of the companies’ financials and an analysis of their place in the competitive landscape, while assessing their growth opportunities and competitive threats. It’s easy to produce something mediocre when you don’t have a mentor guiding you to do your best and showing you where you need to improve.
The goal is to produce thought-provoking research that will influence and inform our clients’ investment decisions. Early in my career at Morgan Stanley, David Adelman, who is Head of US Research, ran our stock selection committee, which is responsible for reviewing and assessing the firm’s stock recommendations. Working with him on the committee, along with his mentorship and advice, were instrumental in helping me grow, and develop as an analyst.
How do you approach managing your team?
I often tell junior members of my team that learning the ropes of equity research is no different from any other apprenticeship. To learn, they need to observe how the veterans around them approach their roles, pay close attention to their phone conversations, what sorts of questions they’re asking, how they respond and follow up with more queries. With time and practice, they can do the same—and hopefully better. I view managing others with a short- and long-term perspective. In the short term, I’m helping individuals sharpen their research skills so they can observe the industry with a keener, more comprehensive eye. Long term, I am preparing future leaders of Morgan Stanley to assume greater levels of responsibility, as well as to determine how the firm can best serve our clients in a fast-paced, ever-evolving global environment.
How does your current role fit into the continuum of your career?
I previously worked in finance and accounting for retailers, where I witnessed industry activity firsthand. When I moved to Morgan Stanley, I was able to take that broad retail picture and integrate it into my research, as well as share it with my colleagues in other sectors to contribute to their industry knowledge. At this point in my career, I see myself as a conduit of retail industry information, so that my research doesn’t exist in a silo, but is available for other sector analysts to use to cultivate a broader outlook.
What advice would you give to students interested in a career in retail apparel research?
I love talking with students about retail apparel research as well as demystifying the analytics behind any comprehensive commentary. As with any career, it is all about learning: Remain informed about current economic events, as well as trends in consumer behavior. Research in general is often a team effort: You’ll be working not just with fellow analysts, but with economists and even traders. So the ability to collaborate with people at all levels, and with different personalities, is also very useful.