Former Morgan Stanley executive discusses Wall Street as a potential career path

Elon Trustee Ed Moriarty provided students with a framework on how to think about Wall Street.

By Olivia Hays ’18

Ed Moriarty, former chief operating officer of Morgan Stanley Investment Management, shared lessons and insights from his career journey in a presentation to Elon students on April 5. The William Garrard Reed Finance Center and the Women in Finance student organization co-hosted the event. 

Former COO of Morgan Stanley Investment Management Ed Moriarty presents "Assessing Wall Street as a Potential Career Path."
Moriarty began his presentation, “Assessing Wall Street as a Potential Career Path,” addressing his background and career path to Wall Street. After graduating from Hamilton College and receiving an MBA from the Darden School at the University of Virginia, he entered an analyst training program that would lead him to join Merrill Lynch & Co. as an investment banker.

He then provided students with a foundational concept of Wall Street. “To me, if you want to think about a career on Wall Street, it is what it is,” Moriarty said. “It’s as simple as those who have capital and those who need capital. Wall Street brings those people together.”

Moriarty discussed the variety of previous roles he had at Merrill Lynch & Co. as well as at Bank of America, where he served as senior risk executive with responsibility for financial institutions globally and developing a comprehensive country risk framework. He noted his change in roles is not typical of most Wall Street professionals. “The majority of people on Wall Street find what they want to do and stay there,” Moriarty said. His change in roles allowed him to find a position he enjoyed most, he said.

He also presented criteria for self-assessment when considering roles in the industry, such as analysis, projects, selling, presentations, modeling and travel. Moriarty emphasized the importance of considering one’s strongest areas when choosing a career.

Moriarty speaks to select finance students.
A key piece of advice Moriarty shared with students was to think about Wall Street positions in terms of six functions, rather than jobs. The six functions he listed were investment banking, capital markets, sales, trading, research and asset management.

He noted that because Wall Street is constantly changing, the jobs on Wall Street change accordingly. “If you end up with a career on Wall Street, you have to be comfortable with that change,” Moriarty said. “Moving as Wall Street moves is key in navigating your career and deciding if it is the right thing for you.” 

Moriarty also discussed the landscape of Wall Street. He broke the financial services sector into six categories: financial supermarkets, diversified financial services firms, boutique investment banks, asset managers, custody banks and asset management, and regional and mid-cap banks. The differences among categories primarily concern the services’ size and balance sheet, Moriarty explained.

Moriarty concluded with insights on interview and career strategies. His main points included expecting positions to be highly competitive, entering interviews with a broad knowledge of what one would like to do, and thinking long term regarding lifestyle.

Earlier in the day, Moriarty met with select finance students to discuss decoding Wall Street and optimizing the Wall Street experience. He also discussed a financial case study in Assistant Professor Kate Upton’s “Financial Modeling” class.

Associate Professor and Director of the Reed Finance Center Raj Gupta and Assistant Professor Kate Upton organized Moriarty's visit to Elon.
“Having Elon well-wishers like Ed Moriarty talk to students about careers in finance is invaluable in bringing finance practice to academic learning, especially when it is someone with 30 years of experience in various roles on Wall Street,” said Associate Professor Raj Gupta, director of the Reed Finance Center. “In just the one day, freshmen and sophomores went away with a much better understanding of the different functions of the Wall Street professional, while juniors and seniors got a good sense of what it takes to succeed on The Street.”

Gupta, along with Upton, organized Moriarty’s visit to Elon.

Moriarty’s professional experience includes a variety of executive and management positions across investment banking, global capital markets, and risk management. He was appointed as head of Merchant Banking and Real Estate Investing following his role as COO of Morgan Stanley Investment Management. In this role, he was responsible for the firm’s private equity, credit, infrastructure and real estate direct investing businesses. Moriarty was also a member of Morgan Stanley’s management committee, firm wide risk committee, asset/ liability management committee and global franchise committee.

Moriarty is a member of the Elon University Board of Trustees and parent of Meaghan, a 2015 Elon graduate, and Cole, a junior Elon business student.