Ma graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.S. in business administration. He’s in his first year as an analyst in the M&A department with Morgan Stanley’s investment banking division in Hong Kong and has handled transactions like IPOs, high-yield bond offerings and M&As.
Q:Why did you choose investment banking?
A:I joined Beta Alpha Psi (BAP), a premier business fraternity, during my junior year at university. Throughout the 10-week pledging programme, BAP introduced me to countless alumni working in finance fields, including investment banks, private equity, and hedge funds. Through interactions with these alumni and working professionals, I learnt about the responsibilities and what the expectations are of an IB analyst. Compared with other finance opportunities, I felt the role would provide unparallel opportunities to learn from senior bankers and gain exposure by interacting with clients.
Q:How did you prepare for the interview with Morgan Stanley?
A:After finishing the BAP program, I studied investment banking guides. For the more difficult technical questions and behavioral questions, I relied on my alumni to guide me through the recruiting process.
Q:What was the most challenging bit of your interview process?
A:While there will always be difficult technical questions – such as “Who would have a higher beta – a supermarket chain or a biotech company?” – the most challenging part was going through stress-type interviews, which ask questions that take the interviewee out of their comfort zone.
Q:What were your feelings post-interview? Did you feel confident you had made the cut?
A:After the first round, I felt butterflies flying around but as the recruitment process went on, I grew more confident after each interview. By the final round, I felt very positive about most of my interviews. I believe the most important thing during the recruitment process is to remain positive and optimistic. There will always be that one question that no one knows the answer to, but it is important to remain calm.
Q:Having made it through the interview process, what do you relish most about your current role?
A:Through the long hours and 2am trips to McDonald’s, I still feel invigorated to come to work every day. Humour aside, I believe my job provides enough excitement and unpredictability to keep you interested for a long time. Even though you might be working on the same transaction, you keep getting new roles and responsibilities to keep this job fresh.
Q:Would you have any words of wisdom for graduates hoping to break into investment banking?
A:Start early and stay optimistic. When I was going through the interview process, I had an interview buddy who interviewed for consulting jobs. By motivating and supporting each other, it was much easier to go through all the interviews with a smile.