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Q&A: Catherine Loui and Claire Storey, MD & HR co-heads, Morgan Stanley

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Catherine Loui and Claire Storey, managing directors and co-heads of human resources at Morgan Stanley, share their wisdom to Human Resources on how better employee benefits can make all the difference. 

Vital Stats: Catherine Loui joined Morgan Stanley in 1997 and was promoted to managing director in 2012. She has held various positions in the human resources division, including the head of HR products and head of coverage.

Claire Storey started her journey in 2007 as a vice president in the human resources department in Hong Kong and was promoted to managing director eight years later.

Q How do you two work together on a daily basis?

Loui: Our backgrounds naturally complement each other. With a law and tax background, I look after technical areas such as compensation, benefits and the HR system. Claire, on the other hand, brings her vast experience and expertise in talent management, diversity and inclusion, and HR business partnership to the table. Since we are working on the same floor, we often discuss how to approach and solve a problem. We can discuss things up to 10 times a day.

Storey: When we first worked together, we carved out specific time to make sure we were crossing over on a regular basis. Now it just happens organically.

Q What are Morgan Stanley’s core values?
Loui: Putting clients first, doing the right thing, leading with exceptional ideas and giving back. These core values are rooted in all our decision making process. When everyone has the same values, it really creates a coherent and cohesive environment.

Storey: They are the basis of everything we do. We evaluate and promote employees according to these core values.

Q What is Morgan Stanley’s C&B philosophy?

Loui: We see C&B as three separate baskets – compensation, benefits, and the employee experience which is a big basket for everything.

We review employees’ base salary and bonuses annually based on six factors: overall global firm performance; divisional performance; business segment performance; employee market position and competitive environment; employee risk measures and compliance; and individual performance. Compensation has always been a focus. We always do what we can to pay competitively.

In terms of benefits, Morgan Stanley has a very global workforce, so we try to standardise our benefit offerings as much as we can. However, each country has its specific rules and regulations on benefits such as retirement, medical coverage and leave entitlements so there are differences amongst the 10 Asian countries in which we operate.

Finally, the third basket, employee experience. There’s a lot more room for us to determine what is the right answer for the firm and what is important right now.

Q Why is having a strong employee experience important at Morgan Stanley?

Storey: There are things that are important to candidates apart from salary and perks, which are given in any organisation.

What differentiates our firm from others is the quality of the employee experience. We strive to offer opportunities that enable employees to grow their careers by working with talented professionals in a supportive and collegial environment.

Loui: Our internal employee survey result also echoed with Claire’s statement: compensation and benefits are important but that is not the only thing that keeps an employee in an organisation.

Employees do value things other than money – (such as) career development and a diverse and inclusive environment.

Q How does Morgan Stanley create a strong employee experience?

Storey: We emphasise transparency and clarity on Morgan Stanley’s career path and provide continuous feedback on employees’ strengths and development areas.

Other than that, diversity and inclusion has been a really big focus for our firm, and it is an important factor to an excellent employee experience. We have a number of employee networks and a diversity council that drives accountability within the businesses.

Having said that, ultimately it’s the responsibility of every manager, every employee across the firm to create a diverse and inclusive workplace, and we run regular awareness sessions on unconscious bias and cultural conversations.

To address representation, we have targeted hiring programmes to attract people under represented in particular sectors. For example: we recently ran a competition called Future Female Traders aimed at female students who are interested in a career in sales & trading. We also run events to promote women in technology and have a well-established return to work programme to help professionals who have taken a career break back into the workforce. For this, we offer 12-week paid internships across various business units, supported by training courses, seminars led by senior management and a mentor/buddy network.

Now, the conversation is very much around inclusion: creating a sense of belonging. It was a tone set very much from the top. When you have that tone set from the top, it trickles down very effectively throughout the organisation. How our employees feel about the organisation, and their managers, drives their performance and engagement, which eventually leads to the firm’s overall business performance.

It’s critically important to have an environment that enables people to come and feel like they belong here and they can perform. Their voices are heard, and their careers continue to move upwards.

Q How do you identify the diverse needs of your employees?

Loui: Other than the annual anonymous employee survey mentioned above, we are constantly in dialogues with our employees.

We collect feedback from employees on areas we should look into such as annual leave offering and maternity coverage, or generally what works and what doesn’t work. We also take exit interviews seriously and we undergo market intelligence research.

Storey: We strive to create an environment where employees and candidates are comfortable to speak their mind. Another thing we do is focus groups. A couple years ago, we were very keen to connect with the junior population. We decided to run focus groups globally across all business units.

What we find interesting is that people want the same thing. Whether he or she is sitting in New York or Mumbai or Hong Kong, they are attracted to Morgan Stanley for the same thing – our brand and culture. It wasn’t money.

Q What are your thoughts on the Millennial workforce?

Storey: The traditional workplace model is changing. We need to adapt to this change or we will risk losing talent. Non-traditional interactive workspaces and a dress-down policy coupled with technology, enable employees to engage more with work and colleagues.

Loui: Fundamentally, the quality of our ideal talent, whether they are Millennials or not, has not changed. As for the Millennial, they are also looking for employers’ qualities as did the generation before them. It’s only the way they want to work that’s different.

What we need to do is to maintain all the high standards while trying to come up with an environment where they feel that they can best contribute, and be productive and motivated.

Q Both of you are mothers of three children. How do you balance family life and work?

Loui: Morgan Stanley provides the flexibility I need so I am not constantly in a tug of war between work and life. If there’s an emergency situation or a school event, I feel comfortable to go, because I know that I am supported by technology to work remotely and Claire is here to cover for me.

Storey: I like the idea of work-life integration. We are working for a US investment bank. We are often on calls late at night. So if we are really striving for an equal balance, that’s going to be really hard. But if you can find a way integrating what’s personally important to you and what’s professionally important to you, you will be satisfied and happy.


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