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Technology with a humane face

Morgan Stanley insists its technology transformation is very much steeped in human element:

The multinational investment management and financial services company Morgan Stanley is an apt model for induction of digital technology and its beneficial use for operations and customer service. With offices in 50 plus countries and a staff strength exceeding 75,000, it services large corporations, governments, institutions and individuals. By the company’s own description, it ‘leverages engineering excellence and relentless innovation to build the connections and capabilities to power our firm and enable our clients and business teams to redefine markets and shape the future of our communities’.

Morgan Stanley today has technology prowess for functions such as low latency and algorithmic trading, complex risk calculations and big data analytics to digital and end-user solutions, sophisticated cyber defence and large-scale, global infrastructure management. It has ~$4 billion in investment in technology and innovation.


One major technology initiative of the company in the recent years is a strategic cloud partnership it has entered into with Microsoft, aimed at accelerating its digital transformation and prodding a spirit of innovation in the whole of financial services industry. The collaboration is intended to bring out opportunities that Microsoft’s cloud provides with a specific view toward the challenges faced by financial services institutions in general and enabling Morgan Stanley to accelerate the modernization of its IT environment in particular. The focus is to enhance client, employee and developer experiences. Microsoft is providing the company with a secure and compliant platform with data privacy at the center. This will facilitate the firm’s cloud transformation and scale across natively integrated platforms and improve developer, which in turn is expected to drive innovation.

It is expected that the company’s clients, employees and businesses will benefit from the available services based on cloud-native offerings. Tooling and resources for developers will enable faster delivery of applications and enhancements, most notably for its clients and 15,000+ financial advisors in wealth management. It will also pave the way for easier data sharing with institutional clients with offerings such as the Morgan Stanley API portal providing direct connectivity in the cloud.

The partnership will also shape the broader Microsoft product offering and create additional collaboration opportunities in the financial services industry focused on the modern workplace and the broader developer experience.

The company has already implemented a technology business management framework to contain spend on public cloud services to get the most benefits without going over budget. This is being done through a cloud value framework the company has built to track agility, pricing, resiliency and other factors.


Morgan Stanley has several customer friendly offerings, developed using the latest technology. One of these is eDelivery, using which a customer can review his account documents online. The customer will receive an email whenever a new document is available and can access the document by logging into Morgan Stanley Online. Similarly, its eAuthorizations allow a customer to electronically authorize domestic and international, one-time/recurring transactions through Morgan Stanley Online and the Morgan Stanley Mobile App within minutes. The company also offers Digital Vault, which allows a customer to manage and share important documents, such as wills, deeds and estate plans, as well as financial statements and tax filings.


The bank is already making use of AI and ML in major ways to supplement human insight and create accurate models for fraud detection and prevention, sales and marketing automation and personalized wealth management. It is now leveraging MLOps principles to scale its use of AI and ML. It believes MLOps tools and processes enable it to operationalize models more efficiently so that it can continue to increase the number of models in production and more fully leverage AI’s ability to drive better business decisions.

And as the AI practice evolves, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management is expected to focus on improving speed to market by further automating the model risk management process. In this, the MLOps tools and processes enable it to operationalize models more efficiently. Analysts often mention that perhaps the greatest level of AI integration with strategy is found in Morgan Stanley’s Wealth Management unit. And it is complemented by the greatest level of human adviser focus as well.


The company has been working on its Next Best Action system to provide its financial advisers with insights to present to clients. The system uses machine learning to identify investments of interest and relevance to a particular client. However, it was found that the primary way a financial advisor achieves success is through frequent personal engagement with the client. The Next Best Action system facilitates that process. There is a sophisticated ML algorithm to identify topics of interest to specific clients. But in the end, financial advising is a human-based game.



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