MSCI Reviews

Updated August 27, 2014
Updated August 27, 2014
203 Reviews

3.2
203 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
MSCI President, CEO, and Director Henry A. Fernandez
Henry A. Fernandez
108 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Great work-life balance - all-nighters are uncommon; (in 21 reviews)

  • Some very smart people at the top of their games doing some great work (in 14 reviews)


Cons
  • Very-very weak middle and senior management (in 16 reviews)

  • One person expected to perform the duties of several employees or an entire team because of cost cutting (in 9 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1. 7 people found this helpful  

    Unhealthy environment altogether

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Associate  in  Berkeley, CA
    Former Employee - Senior Associate in Berkeley, CA

    I worked at MSCI

    Pros

    - Wages above average, if you don’t count the 30+% overtime you will be asked to put on it
    - Decent year-end bonuses
    - Offices are usually in prime locations in the financial capitals (although relocation and travels are discouraged)
    - Attractive health care coverage, average 401k retirement plan
    - Established reputation among customers
    - Respected research team, especially in Berkeley and Geneva

    Cons

    - Lengthy interview/hiring process; this will mislead you thinking they know what they are looking for: quite the opposite
    - MSCI is a software and service company that heavily rely on engineering, although it is very difficult for an engineer to have a voice heard at strategic level in order to contribute to the execution strategy of what designed and planned
    - MSCI is unable to retain talents they so carefully selected from the market. They say they only retain the best, more often they only retain who can’t have chances elsewhere
    - The company is in constant turmoil struggling to keep up with the CEO’s aggressive growth strategy based on merger and acquisitions. This reflects badly on the human capital causing high turnover rate affecting overall operations, customer service, product development, ultimately affecting competitiveness on the market
    - Management is largely inadequate and ineffective: senior managers (mostly Morgan Stanley dropouts) seem busy on keeping the status-quo while trying to land safely to hefty
    retirements; junior management is, on the other hand, highly unfit, under trained and in many cases sycophant (ie "yes-man") while facing their boss and arrogant while facing reports
    - The company shows incapable of elaborating and promoting a single culture throughout the global locations; this causes frustration and sense of exclusion on the many and lets
    some overly zealous managers assuming tremendous decisional power without the necessary checks and balance mechanisms.
    - The company is missing a global strategy for the Human Resources:
    a) Training is reduced to the minimum required by regulations
    b) Training for skill improvement is largely unfunded as budget for training is either minimal or non-existent
    c) Managers completely lack the role of career mentor for their direct resources with the result that people feel “stuck” in a position without possibility of moving on to another functions
      As a result people burn-out and quickly move on to another companies when they can.

    - Politics, rivalry and “prima donna” attitude common on some “empowered” managers (London office), are festering the company feeding anger, frustration and setting teams and offices against
    each other.
    - Top managers and officials are too distant from the life of the company as if they don't want to be bothered , and mid-level managers inadequately deals with the reports in a sort of antagonist (as opposed to a collaborative) way
    - Managers fail to help and empower associates in doing their job: micro-managing and lack of delegation contribute to quick people’s burn-out.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The integration process with Riskmetrics and more recent acquisitions is showing by far more challenging than just consolidating office space and network links.
    The integration of products is lagging and your promise of saving $50M in 2 years (2010-2012) in operational costs does not appear in the right course.

    Clearly the strategy of the integration process is not executed well; sadly your inner circle of Morgan Stanley expatriates managed to cash in a hefty reward for a task having still uncertain outcomes.

    It is time for you to reconsider the work of your COO since front and back office operations have been clearly under-achieving in spite of the many HR directors, product managers, and IT directors rotated in the last few years.

    Others need to be held accountable (including the so called engineering team in Hungary) for badly copying and poorly implementing the Morgan Stanley IT model at MSCI (one size
    does not fit all).

    Give a clear signal of renovation to the market and sever your long-time ties with Morgan Stanley and your cronies: they are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    It’s time to slim down the management, you owe it to your investors other than to the people of MSCI; even Morgan Stanley will appreciate that.

    You can’t keep MSCI’s balance sheet shining just with financial tricks and M&A’s; this will only buy so much time if you don’t start working on the consolidation and evolution of your products.

    Recent FY10 filings show MSCI is less competitive Revs per employee vise (-35% of Operational Revs/employee, FY10/FY09, and -40% of Operational Income/employee, FY10/FY09: sluggish revenues over a ballooning headcount) and it is in way more debts then it was right after the initial IPO.
    How are you going to address this?

    How far you think you can go before the market comes back and gets you if you don’t start working on the real asset of your company: your people.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
  2.  

    Leader in index and risk analytics / investment industry

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at MSCI

    Pros

    Smart, talented, and hard working colleagues
    Strong platform of products and well positioned to continue growth
    Products add value and bring transparency into the investment process

    Cons

    Not for everyone. MSCI favors stars/top talent, and not as tolerant of individuals who make important contributions who may not have the potential to be leaders/management

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Continue to find top talent, but also recognize those who are important contributors.
    Empower employees to do more, and share management decision making at lower levels

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  3. 2 people found this helpful  

    Hard to work for a company that lies to its employees.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Associate  in  Boston, MA
    Former Employee - Associate in Boston, MA

    I worked at MSCI

    Pros

    The employees in many of the departments are good people and are a joy to work with, but this excludes nearly all management.

    Cons

    Senior Management tells HR to tell any employee that is concerned about their low salary that it will ensure that they are brought up to market rate at the end of the year, but refuse to discuss at anytime market rate figures or ranges. At the end of the year, they don't increase salaries (nearly across the board) by much. Most of the jobs in several departments are being shipped overseas despite a lack of qualified applicants in those regions. End of year reviews are useless because if your manager decides you performed well, but senior management doesn't want to give you a bonus that reflects that performance, they just tell your manager to change your performance score (this really happened and was discussed with several employees during their performance reviews by the managers forced to change the scores).

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Reconsider your strategy to ship jobs overseas, especially if the talent is not there. Implement a competitive compensation package from top to bottom, not just at the top. In general, value your employees.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
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  5. 3 people found this helpful  

    I would make more money as an assistant manager at Walgreens

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Boston, MA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Boston, MA

    I have been working at MSCI

    Pros

    Adequate vacation time to help you forget how miserable your job is.

    Cons

    My primary issue with MSCI is its financial abuse of its employees. Compensation is inhumanely low, no matter how well the company's stock is doing. The company must assume that its employees have extremely low expectations and zero ambition to find other jobs.

    Senior management above VP level is completely uninspiring and has no interest in helping employees advance in their careers. There are still a few outstanding employees left at the company but it seems they too are trying to leave ASAP.

    Don't apply for a job at MSCI; working at the company will take many precious years off your life and will likely drain any savings you have as salaries often don't increase from year to year, not to mention the cost of therapy needed as your feelings of self-worth will surely plummet. Oh, and good luck paying off those college loans...not going to happen in this decade.

    If you need a visual illustration of what life at MSCI is like, watch the movie Misery (or read the book), and imagine that you are Paul Sheldon and MSCI is Annie Wilkes. This will provide you with a sufficient portrayal of MSCI's strategy of luring its employees in with its innocuous appearance, followed by the unflinching "hobbling" that it systematically conducts on each employee.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Management cuts overhead to an obscene level and still can't turn a solid profit (should I laugh or cry about this?). Time for a new strategy -- perhaps invest in Walgreens?

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
  6. 2 people found this helpful  

    A lot of politics as the Barra side is not growing and keep losing clients

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Berkeley, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Berkeley, CA

    I worked at MSCI

    Pros

    It still have a reputation in the industry, a well-known firm

    Cons

    no career growth opportunity in the company

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Focus on revenue and growth, but not personal agenda

    Doesn't Recommend
  7. 5 people found this helpful  

    Opaque, systematic, and creatively stifling

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Analyst  in  Boston, MA
    Current Employee - Analyst in Boston, MA

    I have been working at MSCI

    Pros

    Fair work/life balance at lower levels, though I understand more senior levels have less flexibility. Collegial with fellow analysts, systems that provide for some efficiencies of scale. Opportunity for my work product to have some vast impacts on products.

    Cons

    Lack of cultural investment in outside-the-box thinking and employee engagement. "Efficiency" as a buzzword for systematic removal of creativity. Highly controlled environment with emphasis on making every peg fit in the round hole. One way communication from management, lack of transparency.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Especially after the acquisition of RiskMetrics, MSCI strongly underestimated the cultural issues of fusing a creative and less bureaucratic workforce with a systematic, autocratic approach. As such, many legacy employees are left disgruntled, and existing employees are frustrated. Engagement with employees is the only way to effectively understand their value. Ultimately, management would have to either 1.) change the culture at the firm if it values the more creative aspects of its industry, or 2.) remove employees who have cultural differences.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
  8. 1 person found this helpful  

    It was one of the largest disappointments ever.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Associate  in  Berkeley, CA
    Former Employee - Senior Associate in Berkeley, CA

    I worked at MSCI

    Pros

    Salary and benefits package were pretty good. Co-workers were very helpful and liked to share knowledge.

    Cons

    Middle to senior management left so much to be desired. Friends were promoted or favorites, instead of those actually working. Often times, junior members on the team were left on their own to figure out things instead of getting explanation or guidance from more senior members.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I noticed most of the senior management that was in place when I worked there have left. Their job titles and apparent roles had changed quite a bit. I would advise the current management to value their employees and listen to their ideas.

    Doesn't Recommend
  9. 3 people found this helpful  

    Has Problems Keeping the Good, Eventually will downsize the Bad, expect the Ugly.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Analyst  in  Berkeley, CA
    Former Employee - Analyst in Berkeley, CA

    I worked at MSCI

    Pros

    Access to Franchise Risk Models and Software used professionaly in Asset management..
    Collegiate environement.
    Develop knowledge of requirements for supporting Financial Quant Research.
    Starting Entry level salary good with decent benefit package.
    It had franchise value on the resume but not so much anymore.

    Cons

    High Turnover rate due to
      Failure to promote.
      Top Performers rarely compenstated.
      Wallstreet Hours for non-wallstreet pay.

    Inept Middle/Senior Management rarely fired and rewarded only for cost cutting rather than productivity improvement

    Lack of Job Security given Mgmt pursuing cost-cutting outsource strategy.

    Cultural difference stemming from MSCI buyout of Barra. Led to a mass exodus of people in Berkeley to other firms. The brain drain didn't help much in terms of morale.

    Can't imagine what the RiskMetrics Buyout will be like.

    There is only one Aegis.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Create a strategy to retain junior/entry level employees via Career Ladders or better compensation arrangements.
    Possibly create a rotational program for entry level canditaes

    Save money by laying off Senior Managers who don't understand the infrastructure and its requirements rather than Outsourcing.

    Doesn't Recommend
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    Growth by Cost Cutting

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  New York, NY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY

    I have been working at MSCI

    Pros

    Global office presence. Strong brand in Indices and Risk. In general nice people, talented people will not stay for long.

    Cons

    Expenses are scrutinized heavily and make it a barrier for being productive.
    Middle management is ineffective, too many meetings, too much posturing, less real effective work done.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    While there is good communication by the CEO, execution by middle management is lacking.

    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO
  11. 5 people found this helpful  

    You've been warned

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Associate  in  Berkeley, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Associate in Berkeley, CA

    I have been working at MSCI

    Pros

    4 weeks paid vacation
    flexibility to telecommute when needed
    good work/life balance
    work can be challenging
    opportunity to work with smart people

    Cons

    poor morale and high turnover
    heavy cost cutting
    lack of direction and vision from management
    no career path and training
    not compensated or rewarded for accomplishments
    no accountability

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Value your employees and compensate them accordingly. A continental breakfast a couple of times a year and your words of praise are meaningless and often more insulting than motivational.

    Doesn't Recommend

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