Thursday, August 09, 2012

Now, It Is Man vs. Machine

In a move to repair its flagging bond-trading business, Morgan Stanley (MS)  is scrambling to replace some of its well-paid bond traders with computers.

The New York company is hiring programmers and technology specialists to help it trade bonds electronically and handle client orders in the hope of exploiting an expected shift in the way bonds and other fixed income products are traded.

While the effort represents only a part of what the firm is doing to boost low returns in the business, the shift already has reduced the ranks of interest-rate and foreign-exchange traders on some desks by 10% to 20%.

Morgan Stanley's head of interest-rate trading, Glenn Hadden, has told colleagues in recent months and that the trading floor of the future will surround a few traders with the hum of powerful machines. The unit, which has at least 200 staff according to industry estimates, has cut about 10% of staff on some trading desks. Morgan Stanley declines to discuss employment levels, but there according to these estimates the company employs more than 1,000 traders.

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