AFTAs 2019: Best Cross-Asset Trading Initiative—Morgan Stanley


In the final AFTAs of the decade, Morgan Stanley has won the best cross-asset trading initiative, just as it did at its start in 2010, and again in 2015. Last year, the category was given a break, but it’s been won by a major bank every year since 2008, with State Street winning in 2017 and UBS Neo coming out on top in 2016.

Continually shifting regulations around the globe today demand innovation and agility from all market participants. One of the more challenging issues, says Vilas Mhatre, managing director of wealth management technology at Morgan Stanley, is solving for inconsistencies throughout different regions and geographies. One looming regulation in the US, for example, is the Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT), which will require sweeping changes in the trading lifecycle from collection and consolidation of trade information to transmission of trading events. At the same time, the bank is also bracing itself for the impending decommissioning of the Order Audit Trail System.

“It’s a real tour de force,” Mhatre says, referring to the CAT. “Rather than developing a multiplicity of implementations, we took a framework-based approach. For [the] CAT, we built a regulatory engine that unobtrusively captures the events throughout the lifecycle of the order, collating and consolidating them into a database.”

This year, Morgan Stanley implemented its Rules Engine, a data-driven framework that requires the bank to only make changes in one place—the engine itself—as the business evolves and regulations change. Rather than embedding and hardwiring the code, the rules are fully externalized in the engine, helping the bank meet demands faster and provide greater transparency.

Technology and banking increasingly go hand-in-hand, and Mhatre adds that innovations around payment solutions such as credit card and mobile applications are also on the firm’s radar. “We are continuously looking for new ways in which technology can be used to support the regulatory requirements in our diverse locations,” he says.

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