AFTAs 2020: Best Analytics Initiative—Morgan Stanley


Morgan Stanley wins the best analytics initiative category at the 2020 AFTAs, thanks to its new and improved profit and loss viewer (PLV) platform. PLV is the primary tool within Morgan Stanley’s Firm Risk Management (FRM) department to view, analyze and communicate key value at risk (VaR) trends to senior management and regulatory stakeholders. It is the most widely used application within the market risk department supporting hundreds of users in their daily analysis. 

A Morgan Stanley spokesperson says the legacy C++ engine had been optimized over a period of two decades to combine data, logic and processing in a tightly integrated flow. The downside of this was a lack of transparency, difficulty in configuration, and rigidity of outputs. The smallest change required IT involvement and the legacy tooling was failing to support new use-cases.  

Morgan Stanley did a complete, front-to-back overhaul of its systems. Its solution was to build a modern web user interface to provide flexible end-user analysis. The upgraded platform assembled a new technical stack with distinct components that allow end-users to interact directly with the increasing data volumes. Examples of new components include a high-performance database, a high-performance storage system attached to a high bandwidth network, a scalable compute grid, and a dynamic aggregation system. Users can configure multiple methodologies, time horizons and historical time-series inputs, and the service will grow to adopt externalized model libraries.

Since releasing the tool in beta in February 2020, it has become the most used application in the market risk department. It was used to manage the firm’s market risk profile during the pandemic by supporting a five-fold surge in user traffic while providing new analysis capabilities. 

The spokesperson says the PLV team will continue to deliver user-driven analysis capabilities and realize foundational improvements in scalability and performance. “Releases are frequent and managed through an Agile delivery model,” the spokesperson says. 

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