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A Rare Look Inside Morgan Stanley Investment Management

It's very rare that a big buy side firm wants to talk about their trading technology projects, let alone grant full access to an entire team of people working on a large-scale trading renovation.

It's very rare that a big buy side firm wants to talk about their trading technology projects, let alone grant full access to an entire team of people working on a large-scale trading renovation.But Morgan Stanley Investment Management has done just that and what a project they are undertaking. The MSIM team is highly motivated and all credit their leader Ray Tierney, global head of equity trying, with being the man with a plan.

We initially sat down with six members of the MSIM trading renovation team to hear what the project was all about, where the team was in finishing up the deliverables and how it was going to change the way MSIM operates.

They didn't hold back, the team talked about everything and shared not only the technical specifications on the project but also the behind the scenes drivers and personal contributions of the team.

Tierney is the leader of the team and lead and inspire he does. Tierney has more than 25 years of sell side experience, 14 of it with Morgan Stanley, and came on board with MSIM less than two years ago.

But Tierney himself said during our first meeting that while the group is very serious about what they do, they are also a whole lot of fun. And fun and funny is what the group was during our discussions. They cracked jokes and told stories about when each came on board, but when it came time to get into the nitty-gritty of the project they were all business.

This is a major multi-step project covering four main areas of trading: order generation; unified cross-border trading; execution and liquidity access; and data and analytics.

It all started with a "manifesto" as Tierney calls it, a living, breathing document that he drew up during his first month of taking over the buy side equities trading operation.

You could almost see the wheels turning as he described the changes he envisioned for the group and his ideas to turn a trading operation that in the past had experienced very little investment, into a high tech trading floor where everyone passionately believed in the New Buy Side Desk, one that is modeled after sell side sales trading operations.

The manifesto started out as almost 60 pages and has been presented more than 50 times. It has morphed continuously to be the team's mission statement and now reference point to make sure they are on task and on time.

While Tierney is credited with being a motivating and inspiring leader, the team is a team and all agree that this project could never have happened, let alone been successful if not for the efforts of the whole group and the focus and expertise each contributes.

This project is one solid example of how leadership, teamwork and project management can come together and change the way a trading desk and a firm operates.

But as you can tell from the photo and Tierney's idea to don sunglasses for the shot, the group keeps it light and fun but their dedication to the project is contagious and even I was wowed by it all.

The details of the trading renovation project and the team behind it will be featured in a cover story in the May/June issue of Advanced Trading and posted on Advancedtrading.com soon.

Cristina McEachern, Morgan Stanley

Members of the Trading Renovation Team: (from left to right) Rob Shapiro, Executive Director, Head of Trading Execution & Analysis; Joseph Trimarchi, Executive Director, Head of Global Front Office Equity Trading Applications - Technology; Jeff Rosen, Managing Director, Chief Administrative Officer of Global Equity; Ray Tierney, Global Head of Equity Trading; Cristina McEachern, Executive Editor, Advanced Trading; Mark Levy, Head of Global Equity Business Systems & Infrastructure; and Peter Cooke, Executive Director, Head of Project and Business Management.

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