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Don’t expect huge amounts of hiring from Morgan Stanley’s tech spending spree

While Morgan Stanley is focusing on “expense re-engineering” to save $1.5bn over three years, it’s keen to point out that it’s a big spender on technology. IT professionals thinking that there are plentiful job opportunities at the bank may be disappointed, however.

During a presentation to a Deutsche Bank conference this week, Morgan Stanley’s CFO Ruth Porat pointed to how the bank’s IT spend has increased its technology spend by 7% between 2007-2010 on a CAGR basis, versus an industry norm of 2% and has shelled out $500m last year on ‘change the bank’ initiatives – those that give the bank a competitive advantage through IT – related to the investment bank.

Yes, it’s cutting back on everything from paper to mobile phone bills, but technology budgets will continue to increase, she said.

In terms of the investment bank, technologists should expect some opportunities as the bank looks to expand its e-trading brand, MSET, across equities, FX and more into the fixed income sector. However, in London, there’s little indication of this tech spend translating into hiring.

Morgan Stanley currently has 65 London-based IT vacancies. While this isn’t an insignificant number, it pales in comparison to the 200 posts available at this point last year.

Part of the reason for this is that significant chunk of its IT resources are being directed towards Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. Of the 14,000 tech-related employees globally, around one-third are connected to its retail brokerage operation with a “significant portion” dedicated to integration projects.

In the UK, much of the recruitment in this area is taking place in Morgan Stanley’s Glasgow office, where the technology team is getting more involved in the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney integration as well as taking control of the IT around information security.

In London, there’s an increasing sense that Morgan Stanley is a “fruitful hunting ground” for technologists, rather than a volume recruiter, according to headhunters.

“The retention rate at Morgan Stanley has been excellent, with many senior technologists there for ten or 15 years,” claims one IT in finance headhunter. “Recently, however, with compensation shrinking and a lack of new innovation, a number of people have become disillusioned.”

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