Morgan Stan­ley bro­kers, bankers to get new tech-friendly of­fices

Irish Independent - Business Week - - APPOINTMENTS - Son­ali Basak

Morgan Stan­ley is re­mod­elling. About 1.2 mil­lion square feet (111,000 square me­tres) 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, trad­ing 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. trad­ing hub since 2009, when about 500 as­set man­agers were moved into an open floor plan.

Gold­man’s 43-floor sky­scraper is now di­vided into two struc­tural fea­tures: a short, broad sec­tion with the trad­ing op­er­a­tions, and a tower that rises from that base. The project fo­cussed on the third floor of the lower sec­tion. The traders in the se­cu­ri­ties di­vi­sion and bankers who un­der­write stocks and bonds oc­cupy the floors above.

Mem­bers of the fun­da­men­tal in­vest­ing teams — eq­uity and fixed-in­come strate­gies, as well as man­agers of the Gold­man Sachs In­vest­ment Part­ners hedge fund — have moved to the ren­o­vated floor. Other per­son­nel — such as pri­vate wealth man­agers, sales­men and staff in the quan­ti­ta­tive strate­gies unit have stayed put.

The new space fea­tures a cof­fee bar, two pantries and a bank of phone booths for hold­ing pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions. It also in­cludes a 70-per­son con­fer­ence room, where chief in­vest­ment of­fi­cers hold a morn­ing meet­ing, and eight other client con­fer­ence rooms.

Vis­i­tors are greeted by a 20-foot screen show­ing fund per­for­mance, mar­ket prices and re­search in high res­o­lu­tion. Lane, it su­per­vised al­most $1.4 tril­lion at the end of last year for in­sti­tu­tions, wealthy in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies, as well as re­tail in­vestors through mu­tual funds and ex­change-traded funds.

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Lloyd Blank­fein has counted on the busi­ness to spur rev­enue growth. The $5.79bn it gen­er­ated last year ac­counted for 19pc of the firm’s to­tal, the most since 2008, when trad­ing and bank­ing op­er­a­tions slumped.

Lane and O’Neill have ex­panded in part through a se­ries of bolt-on ac­qui­si­tions — nine since Lane joined as co-head in De­cem­ber 2011. That has made fos­ter­ing co­he­sive­ness among staff espe­cially im­por­tant.

Blank­fein has told in­vestors he sees an open­ing for Gold­man to grow the busi­ness fur­ther as in­vestors con­sol­i­date as­sets with lead­ing firms.

Mod­erni­sa­tion isn’t op­tional for a firm like Morgan Stan­ley, said Ekene Ezu­like, global head of cor­po­rate ser­vices.

The ques­tion is how quickly we do it, ver­sus whether we should do it, he said.

As lit­tle as 60pc of Morgan Stan­ley’s work space is oc­cu­pied at any given time, ac­cord­ing to Ezu­like, who said the changes will push that rate as high as 90pc as op­tions such as desk shar­ing let more peo­ple use fewer seats.

De­spite the less stuffy dress code and other up­dates, Morgan Stan­ley shouldn’t


With as lit­tle as 60pc of Morgan Stan­ley’s work space oc­cu­pied at any given time, the move to open space will see that rate climb as high as 90pc as op­tions such as desk shar­ing let more peo­ple use fewer seats be con­fused with a Sil­i­con Val­ley startup, Rooney said.

“We’re not a tech­nol­ogy firm, we’re a bank,” Rooney said. “We don’t sell tech­nol­ogy, we sell ad­vice.”

While there’s no kom­bucha on tap as there is at Gold­man Sachs’ re­vamped San Fran­cisco of­fices, there are com­mon din­ing rooms, and the firm hired its firstever com­mu­nity man­ager, Fiona Thomas. She helps plan of­fice get-to­geth­ers and is over­see­ing a med­i­ta­tion event that was over­sub­scribed.

Morgan Stan­ley’s ex­ec­u­tives ap­proved the project, called ‘Work­place Evo­lu­tion’ in March and some spa­ces were fully re­vamped in months, with help from WeWork and the ar­chi­tec­tural firm Gensler.

The first set of changes in­cluded of­fices in New York, Hous­ton, Frank­furt, Chicago, Glas­gow, Bu­dapest, Lon­don, Mum­bai and Ban­ga­lore.

The firm’s head­quar­ters in Times Square — which is about 1.3 mil­lion square feet — will also see changes, Rooney said.

The cap­i­tal-mar­kets di­vi­sion for the wealth-man­age­ment unit will be re­vamped this year. The tech­nol­ogy di­vi­sion and back-of­fice func­tions tied to fi­nance are also be­ing ren­o­vated.

“Our traders need to be with our techies,” Rooney said.

“You’ll see a very dif­fer­ent trad­ing floor in five years time than you see to­day.”


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