Morgan Stanley Partners with HBCUs to Train Talent

Two business school instructors at Morehouse College and a third instructor at Howard University are the first to participate in a partnership between HBCUs and New York-based investment firm Morgan Stanley.

Morehouse College accounting Professor Dr. Cheryl Allen, finance Professor Dr. Kasim Alli and Howard University finance Professor Dr. Philip Fanara have been named the first recipients of the Morgan Stanley Professorship Initiative, which is designed to build a longstanding relationship between Morgan Stanley and HBCUs, according to the investment bank.

The goal is to link what is taught in the classroom to the skill sets needed for financial services industry professionals.

During the summer break Allen, Alli and Fanara spent six weeks at the Morgan Stanley headquarters working with managing directors in the bank’s research, equities and investment banking divisions, attending staff meetings and conducting individual research, Morgan Stanley spokeswoman Brigid Milligan said in an e-mail message.

“In many ways [the experience] confirmed a lot of things I have been teaching,” Howard University’s Fanara says. “I got a much better feel on how concepts I teach are applied in practice.”

In his graduate and undergraduate finance, investment, financial engineering, investment banking and private equity courses Fanara stresses the importance of studying industries to understand the task of developing products to eliminate risk.  

Some roles in an investment bank may require a person to specialize in several companies within an industry, Fanara says. “You have to develop deep knowledge of specific industries so you can help design more efficient financial products for those companies.”

Another role in the industry involves analyzing an individual company’s reports and regulatory filings toward developing those investment products, Fanara says.

Morehouse College finance Professor Alli says he appreciates the opportunity he has to interact with the bank’s top executives.

“We have to be aware of the current developments in the industry,” Alli says.

“[Investment banks] are there to create value for their clients … we have to prepare on a global scale, understand the global marketplace, be willing to work overseas and get language skills,” Alli says.

This semester Alli is teaching corporate finance, investment finance and portfolio management.

The professors were selected after they submitted a written application and participated in an interview at Morgan Stanley headquarters. The bank will fund Allen, Alli and Fanara’s salaries for the school year. 

Morgan Stanley also will loan out its senior executives to help teach parts of the professors’ coursework.

“We have a professional we can tap into when we need to,” says Alli, who has taught finance to HBCU graduate and undergraduate students for more than two decades.

The Morgan Stanley’s Professorship Initiative is part of a five-year, $30 million plan to find talent among groups that are underrepresented in the financial services industry, according to a bank press statement.

The partnership is a benefit to both Morgan Stanley and HBCU students preparing for business careers, Alli says.

“Our goal is to train students … their goal is to find a pool of talent that can help them grow their business,” Alli says.

– Cassie M. Chew

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