Pre-2008, a job on Wall Street was a guarantee of prosperity and stability—a highly coveted position among many, MBA graduates most of all.
But after the financial crash, watching Wall Street giants like Lehman Brothers crumble showed everyone that banking was as uncertain as any other profession, and, furthermore, needed to adapt to survive in the 21st century.
The decade since the crash has seen innovations like fintech and cryptocurrency in the centuries-old financial industry. Goldman Sachs, a Wall Street institution, recently launched its Marcus online banking service, just one example of modernization in the industry.
“There are disruptors in every industry, and the financial services industry is by no means immune from disruption,” explains Ryan Chin, product manager in wealth management at Morgan Stanley.
Product manager, a common role at tech firms like Google, has found a new standing in the wealth management industry, offering more stable roles at organizations like Morgan Stanley for MBA graduates, and providing a niche for innovation-savvy professionals like Ryan.
Having an entrepreneurial mindset, it turns out, is beneficial in every profession—regardless of whether you are running your own business or working at a multinational bank.
Ryan’s background had a strong focus on finance, with a bachelor’s in economics and three years under his belt working for his family's financial services company back in Jamaica.
As the business grew and stood on its own feet, Ryan began looking for new challenges to push his career even further.
Studying an MBA at Aston Business School in the UK offered the chance to expand his financial knowledge, to enhance his personal qualifications, and, most excitingly, to work an a diverse international group.
This diversity, Ryan notes, contributed a huge amount to the “exposure” to different working styles and cultural approaches that he received on the program. This fed his entrepreneurial approach to problem solving, learning how to innovate and disrupt your own preconceptions of business.
“It’s about recognizing that there’s so many ways to do the same thing, and there’s always a different way to approach something,” Ryan enthuses.
It gave him a fresh appreciation of the value of working with a diverse group, which he draws upon on a daily basis to his role at Morgan Stanley, working and collaborating with people from different professional and cultural backgrounds.
His own fascination with entrepreneurship as a discipline, moreover, was propelled by an entrepreneurship and innovation course he took on the Aston MBA. It examined the lifecycle of business ideas, bringing them from the idea stage to the execution stage.
He quickly realized this could be applied not just to starting your own business, but to making business decisions in any context.
“It’s about breaking down the process of tackling ideas or challenges you might have, and how you make it really practical,” Ryan professes.
This was particularly demonstrated through the practical elements of the program, where business ideas were not only pitched but also tested.
“You don’t just create a plan,” Ryan notes, “You test it, you measure the results, and you build again, refining it along the process.”
Financial organizations are doing the same thing, testing out new products and adapting them to the needs of the modern customer.
Ryan in particular highlights the trend towards fintech, with financial giants like Morgan Stanley looking for opportunities to innovate and improve their service, in order to compete with the smaller tech startups which are able to be more dynamic and agile.
“The financial service industry is playing catch up to be as agile as the tech firms that are growing so rapidly,” Ryan notes—but when it gets running, the client pool is far larger.
For Ryan, the challenge comes in agility—“It’s like turning a cruise ship at the same speed as a jet ski.”
This is where a knowledge of financial services, combined with a knack for innovation and technology, has helped carve out a much coveted role as a product manager for Ryan.
As a professional looking to stay ahead in this competitive industry, Ryan draws daily upon his experience at Aston, constantly applying the theoretical and practical knowledge that sets him ahead of the pack.
“There’s a lot of natural talent in anything business-related, but the MBA showed me that it’s always good to have a formalized process to go through and really see how other people do things,” Ryan imparts.
His own aspirations to start and run his own business are still a pipe dream, but one that he knows he will pursue at some point down the line.
For now, though, applying his entrepreneurial mindset to the fast-moving world of wealth management will have to satisfy this instinct.