Morgan Stanley Hires Electronic Trading Vet for Bond Effort

(Bloomberg) -- Morgan Stanley hired Phil Allison, previously of KCG Holdings Inc., to lead the automation of its fixed-income business.

Allison will head fixed-income automated trading and report to Sam Kellie-Smith, according to a memo sent to staff Monday. He was most recently the chief executive officer of KCG Europe, a high-speed trading business that was acquired last year by Virtu Financial Inc. He was previously the global head of cash equities at UBS Group AG.

Automating bond trading is a “major priority” after Morgan Stanley succeeded in digitizing stock trades, helping it become the top equities shop globally, CEO James Gorman said earlier this month. Fixed-income businesses have been harder to switch, partly because of the market’s lower liquidity.

Morgan Stanley has been finding ways to incorporate its electronic-trading technology, known as MSET, into the bond-trading business. Kellie-Smith, who previously led equities trading, was picked in 2016 to revamp the fixed-income business after the bank reduced the unit’s headcount by about 25 percent.

Gorman has said the bank is spending about $4 billion to expand technology efforts across the bank, including in wealth management and research. Last year, Morgan Stanley grabbed its largest share of fixed-income trading revenue among nine of the biggest global investment banks since the financial crisis, according to Bloomberg Intelligence data.

Allison worked at UBS from 1997 to 2014, developing statistical models and playing a leading role in algorithmic trading and automated market-making.

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