Morgan Stanley: Glasgow operations come of age

Celebrating 10 years of rapid growth

Over the past ten years, Morgan Stanley’s operations in Glasgow have grown and grown. Here Margaret Johnson, Executive Director, Human Resources, recaps on some of the most significant milestones and explains why Glasgow has proved such a successful location.

"Let Glasgow flourish" is the city's motto - and it's certainly been the case for Morgan Stanley over the last ten years.

From an initial team of six employees, hired locally to transition a settlements function from London, the company's Glasgow office has expanded to six divisions, supporting functions employing just over 1,000 people.

Today, Glasgow is Morgan Stanley's fourth largest centre after New York, London and Hong Kong, with key functions serving operations all over the globe. The Glasgow operation's success stemmed initially from two main advantages: a lower cost base for expansion and the availability of a highly skilled pool of talent.

Looking beyond London

During the boom years of the 1990s, the London operation was under pressure for space and talent, so the company had to look further afield to expand. We looked at many of the UK's larger cities for a location, but it was Glasgow that ticked all the boxes for us.

It had lots of quality, affordable office space, an easy commute to London and an already established financial services industry. However, most attractive of all was access to a well-educated workforce - the product of four universities and an internationally renowned business school in and around the city.

It all started in September 2000 with a small team working on settlements for institutional clients. Then, on the back of this success, another small team joined them working with our private wealth clients. By 2002 there were over 100 people in Glasgow and the time came to find suitable premises for this growing operation.

In the August of that year, Morgan Stanley took four floors of the prestigious Cerium Building in Glasgow's International Financial Services District.

A centre for excellence

Further growth came with the expansion of the Finance division to keep pace with the changing accounting regulations. The company was well placed to attract high-calibre accountants, particularly as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland has an international reputation, and this led to Morgan Stanley establishing Glasgow as a centre of excellence for the Firms' legal entity work.

In the mid 2000s, Glasgow had gained an enviable reputation, not just as a great place to live and work, but also as a place where continuous improvement was second nature. Every function that relocated to Scotland re-engineered itself to work more efficiently - it appeared Glasgow had the magic touch!

Such was the growth during this period that Morgan Stanley secured a second office in the city at the nearby Sentinel Building in 2006.

Expanding services

Another boost for Glasgow was the strategy to develop the firm's own IT technology services rather than rely on contractors. The IT team grew quickly and it was soon joined by the fund management accounting operation, as Glasgow was selected as one of the key locations to develop this part of the firm's business.

The newest 'kid on the block' is the Information Security function which was developed in 2009 and is expected to expand over the coming years to protect the company's data and IP.

Living as well as working

Like the city, Glasgow's operation has its own character. As commuting times are minimal for most people, they can enjoy a good work-life balance with easy access to stunning countryside on their doorstep.

The Glasgow management team was also keen to develop this employee-friendly environment with a range of health promotion and wellbeing initiatives and informal support networks. Glasgow was the first Morgan Stanley office to be awarded the UK's prestigious Investors in People accreditation.

Glasgow is a serious contender

I believe that Glasgow has become a force of its own and is a serious contender when any major relocation is being considered within Morgan Stanley. We're not only the biggest importer of talent but also a major exporter, as many of our people have started their careers with us and are now working in other parts of the global business.

Employees have also built highly successful careers locally, and many have had the opportunity to work in several of the six divisions. That's one of the great advantages of developing your career with Morgan Stanley.

Further information on living and working in Scotland is available at www.talentscotland.com

Margaret Johnson,
Executive Director, Human Resources
Morgan Stanley

5 November 2010

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