Morgan Stanley cuts a dozen jobs in Asia equities division

Bloomberg Hong Kong | Updated on December 20, 2019 Published on December 20, 2019

Morgan Stanley has cut about a dozen jobs in its equities division in Asia as part of a global year-end efficiency push amid continued margin pressure across the industry, people familiar with the matter said.

Among those cut include Asia head of cash facilitation Nick Wallum and a few directors, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential. Wallum, a Managing Director, had been with the firm for 10 years.

A Hong Kong-based spokeswoman at Morgan Stanley declined to comment. Wallum did not immediately respond to a text message on his phone and could not be reached through the bank’s general number in Hong Kong.

The New York-based bank is cutting about 1,500 jobs globally. Most of the reductions are in the technology and operations divisions, but sales, trading and research are also being pared. Investment banks around the world have been trimming staff amid a multi-year slump in trading revenue and as more of their business moves to electronic platforms that require fewer humans.

Separately, Zach Tuckwell, 54, most recently co-head of electronic trading for the region, is retiring and his departure has nothing to do with the cuts, the people said. Tuckwell is also 10-year veteran at the firm. UBS Group AG has also trimmed about 40 jobs in the Asia-Pacific region to lower costs and combine its trading units.

Global equities revenue fell 17% in the first half this year, partly dragged by lower client demand in prime services and cash equities and a drop off in the derivatives businesses after a strong 2018, according to data provider CRISIL Coalition. Operating margin for equities business narrowed to 20% from 28% same period last year, due to higher technology expenses and revenue normalisation, though lower compensation cost and job cuts have offset some of the decline.

The use of algorithms in electronic markets has automated the jobs of tens of thousands of execution traders worldwide and displaced others who model prices and risk or build investment portfolios, according to Marcos Lopez de Prado, the former head of machine learning at AQR Capital Management LLC.

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Published on December 20, 2019
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