Morgan Stanley’s New York trading floor may seem a long way from Manuel’s native Spain, but, in fact, this Associate finds his background to be of tremendous help in his role on the emerging-markets trading desk, where he navigates as many languages and cultures as he does different assets and markets.
“I grew up in a part of Spain called Galicia. It’s between Spain and Portugal,” he explains. “And while my first language is Spanish, Galicians have their own regional language, which is a mix of Spanish and Portuguese—both of which I use regularly in my job, which focuses on Latin America. Plus, my mother is American, so that helped with my English skills.”
Manuel’s undergraduate majors in political science and economics at Brown University have also proven to be solid preparation for his role. "It's been gratifying to dive into this world I had studied in college and get a deeper understanding of how these countries work, not just on a political level, but also from a macroeconomic level, Manuel says. “
Basically, we bridge the gap between emerging-market countries and corporations that need to borrow money and our institutional clients, such as pension or mutual funds, who have capital to invest. You’ll have countries and corporations, in regions such as Latin America, that will issue debt for different financing needs. We arrange for clients to buy the debt when it’s first issued, and we then help trade it back and forth in the secondary market. That’s our role in a nutshell.
The summer after my sophomore year in college, I interned at a private-equity firm in Spain. The job involved researching and connecting financial-technology companies from across the world that were primarily focused on social entrepreneurship. That was my first exposure to the finance world. Then, before I started my junior year, I applied to finance internships in the U.S. which led me to join Morgan Stanley’s Summer Analyst Program in 2018 before joining as a Full-Time Analyst the following summer. What drew me to Morgan Stanley specifically? I had heard that the culture here is different from other firms on the Street. It’s very collaborative. I’d also heard that a lot of people who come to Morgan Stanley stay for many years.
I’m fascinated by watching politics play out in various countries and how that affects their economies. Will an election somewhere cause the markets to behave erratically? How will government spending in a particular country influence investors and how can we react to that? This past year, with the huge repercussions caused by COVID-19, was especially unpredictable, as governments around the world enacted various policies to stimulate their post-pandemic economies. I always find it interesting to compare the approach each country has taken and analyze the impact those polices have so that we can advise our clients appropriately on the best trade opportunities.
It is a very collaborative environment. That starts during the initial few weeks of training—there is a real sense of teamwork among your Analyst class—and it continues once you join the firm full-time. Often I get questions from clients related to completely different teams, and there’s this general consensus that you can reach out to anybody across the firm and they’ll help you out, even if you’ve never spoken to them before. It also impresses me that there are senior leaders at Morgan Stanley who have been here for 20-plus years. It makes me think: “Okay, well, this must be a very good place, if they’ve stayed here for this long.”
If you think back over your time at Morgan Stanley, is there something you accomplished that you’re particularly proud of?
I’m part of this new team tasked with supporting our efforts to recruit diverse talent to the firm. We’re focused on attracting Black and Latino college students to the Fixed Income Division specifically. It’s a great initiative, and I’m proud to be involved with it.
Before COVID, I assisted a friend of mine with a book drive. We helped deliver books to students in New York from underprivileged backgrounds. I was also part of an initiative that assigns mentors to students at New York City public high schools who are interested in pursuing corporate jobs. We have lunches where we get to know them and give them advice so that once they get to college, they already know a little bit of what the corporate world is like.
One area I’d like to get involved with again is filmmaking. It was a passion of mine in college—I love making short films. I haven’t been devoting much time to it since moving to New York, but I’m hoping to be able to pick it up again soon.