Morgan Stanley to create tech-friendly offices


Morgan Stanley is remodeling. About 1.2 million square feet (111,000 square meters) of office space will get an overhaul in the next 15 months to put technology experts closer to brokers, traders and bankers, the firm’s head of technology, Rob Rooney, said in an interview. After changes to wealth-management operations, tra- ding floors, investment-banking offices and space tied to asset management will all get a remake.
“The workplace needed to be designed around a much more dynamic, millennial kind of workforce,” said Rooney, 51, who stepped into the technology role this year. “We’re trying to attract the next generation of the best and brightest.”
Demolition work in lower Manhattan has already created open floor plans that give more employees views of the Statue of Liberty and Hudson River, a perk previously reserved for senior executives cloistered in their wood-walled offices.
Now, glass partitions and interactive whiteboards abound, and the dress code is decidedly more casual.
The first phase represents about 9,000 seats around the world, though the project may expand, Rooney said.

Morgan Stanley’s past technology investments helped make it the biggest stock-trading firm in the world, and Chief Executive Officer James Gorman has said it’s a major priority to replicate that success in bond markets. The bank, which also has a $2.4 trillion wealth-management division, is spending $4 billion annually
on the effort, including the building of what it calls “Centers of Excellence” to focus on blockchain, automation and other technologies.
With 18 million transactions a day on the firm’s electronic-trading platform for equities, pushing the efficiency envelope “is kind of challenging the speed of light,” Rooney said.
“If you’re an engineer, these are real problems you’re trying to solve.”
In wealth management, where a lot of the initial office changes will roll out, the bank built algorithms and is using machine learning to help more than 15,000 brokers make trade suggestions for clients and handle more routine tasks.
The overhaul is one of Wall Street’s biggest. WeWork Cos last year began helping UBS Group AG update wealth-management offices in Weehawken, New Jersey.
Also in 2017, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. unveiled the largest revamp of its trading hub since 2009, when about 500 asset managers were moved into an open floor plan.

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