Morgan Stanley managing director, a Baruch alum, reflects on experience


Baruch College

May Khin

Baruch College alumnus Roger Trimble was surprised when he heard he was being promoted as the managing director for Morgan Stanley, where he was the head of Wealth Management Portfolio Risk, during a Zoom meeting.

“There was a part of me that was expecting it, anticipating it, but what I did not expect at all was the kind of emotional impact of the entire event of seeing all the faces of the people that have supported you and stood up for you along the way,” Trimble told The Ticker in an interview. “In better times, that kind of thing happens in person, and it’s an overwhelming feeling that I don’t think anyone can really prepare for.”

Having obtained a master’s degree in financial engineering from Baruch in 2009, Trimble currently manages a team within the investment banking company’s risk managers, but also manages on the retail side, which he explained is the largest aspect of the company.

“We manage the assets of retail clients, normal people like you and me, who are saving for retirement or just have brokerage accounts,” said Trimble. “We surveil client portfolios looking for outsize risks, either through misalignment between the way that they’ve told us that they want to be invested through a risk profile, or their risk appetite, and the actual holdings that they have — either with their own choice, their own investment decisions or investment decisions that their financial advisor — the Morgan Stanley financial advisor made for them.”

Trimble said his team works in a very complicated regulatory environment, so his job is to make sure no one steps on the wrong side of the compliance line because, as he said, they are regular people who “are out to do the right thing for their clients or for the firm.”

Trimble’s primary responsibility for the company is to identify and manage risks, with the goal of reducing losses for the firm that could result in client complaints, litigations or loss of business. He also fronts his team’s interactions with stakeholders, patiently waits to reach consensuses, attend meetings and listen to different points of view.

Finance was not Trimble’s first choice of career. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York and went straight into the U.S. Army. Serving continuous deployments that would last between six months to a year, Trimble decided to leave to take care of his budding family in the state.

The financial engineering field was very popular at the time, and his interest in finance grew stronger. He thought he would be “ill-suited for it,” especially since he didn’t see himself as a model army officer.

“You do things when you’re later in your career or second career or third career, you look back on and think, gosh, how did I even survive?” Trimble said. “I was certainly not the quickest of cats as a young 20-year-old army officer, but somehow, I survived.”

During his time at Baruch, Trimble was able to pursue an interest in finance and build a career through academics, networking and professional mentorship. He emphasized that networking at the college helped shape his career.

“I learned firsthand at Baruch, the importance of a network, not only for while you’re a student, but I’d say even more so after you’ve graduated,” Trimble said. “Maintain that network and connections with not only your classmates but your most influential mentors that were there when you were a student.”

As a veteran, Trimble thought it would be easy to find a job in the private sector, but he said he was wrong. He said it’s the same as a student just graduating from school, but Dan Stefanica, the co-director of Baruch’s Master of Financial Engineering program, was able to land him a job.

“My first job in finance was with a hedge fund, and it was because of Dan and my connections with Baruch, that I was ultimately able to come to Morgan Stanley,” Trimble said. “I had a very positive experience with the fund I was at but it was a small fund and the opportunities for growth are limited.”

While the small hedge fund provided him with an isolating work environment, he was able to reach his peak there.

“Unlike a larger bank — Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Bank of America and so on — opportunities are much more readily available for you,” Trimble said. “Because of Dan, I was actually able to find an entry into Morgan Stanley, which led me to where I am today.”

Trimble is grateful for all the talented professors and resourceful mentors at Baruch. Some of his classmates were pursuing their second Ph.D. degrees and Trimble felt small in comparison. .

“When you’re in the presence of greatness like that, you can’t help but feel odd,” Trimble said.

“It showed me just how small I really was, how little I really knew and how much I needed to learn to get anywhere that was worth getting. It was a humbling experience, but it was a necessary experience to realize how far I would need to go in order to actually accomplish anything useful.”

Trimble is happy to offer advice to students aspiring to rise in the business world, adding he has “made every mistake one can imagine.”

He advises students not to rush into a promotion, especially since co-workers will treat them differently with the sudden title change. Instead, they should raise the bar for their work performance, especially as students from Baruch.

“Limit yourself imposed, bar raising if you will or levels to reach and wait till next year when the eyes are off you and you have time to get back to experimenting to being creative,” Trimble said.

“Wait till your next year to do that, you will have more flexibility, then you will have some time in a position where it won’t be such a stressor for you.”