The Client

Morgan Stanley Investment Management (MSIM) is the capital management arm of Morgan Stanley, servicing a diverse global client base that includes governments, institutions, corporations and individuals.

The Challenge

MSIM needed the design and implementation of a highly-available execution management system (EMS), integrated with an in-house OMS supporting equities, FX, fixed income, and futures. The firm, however, felt they had insufficient experience directly implementing FIX, the standard electronic communications protocol for the capital markets. MSIM discovered Connamara’s FIX expertise, and soon after contracted Connamara to build the EMS.

Part of the unique challenge of this project was the level of integration required. As a bank, MSIM had a number of rules and regulations it had to follow — therefore, Connamara not only had to get the software right, but had to do everything within MSIM’s organizational structure as well. Connamara also had to collaborate with a global team, spanning New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, London, Singapore, Pune, and Bangalore.

On the technology side, the project was unique due to the scale and volume of messages. MSIM wasn’t concerned about individual messages but summaries of all the executions. They also needed to have control over where the messages were routed. The company’s previous system struggled in this area, often failing to keep up with message volume.

The Solution

Connamara integrated closely with MSIM, working with numerous team members around the world, including MSIM’s MD, ED — Equity Front Office Investment Tools Technology, and Global Head of Performance Attribution Technology. An entire team at Connamara built out the EMS, while one Connamarian was onboarded as an MSIM contractor to work on the OMS team. Having an employee “on the inside” helped bridge the gap between the two teams, and eased the integration of the EMS into the MSIM infrastructure. 

To ensure clarity, Connamara also established a very clear line of communication with MSIM. All interfacing was done over an API for receiving and reporting messages, as MSIM managed the OMS internally.

Connamara employed the agile methodology principles of continuous integration and testing. Each milestone was delivered along with acceptance tests defining the behavior, and then integrating with the latest milestone at each release. 

Projects of this scale regularly involve surprises at the intersection of the technology stack and the policies, procedures, and regulations of the organization. This project was no exception, and one such surprise was that Connamara could not leverage one of its go-to messaging technologies, ZeroMQ, unless it was able to support Kerberos security. Without missing a beat, two Connamara engineers got to work adding Kerberos/GSSAPI security to ZeroMQ, czmq, and jzmq, and contributed them back as open source.  

The Results

Connmara successfully delivered an in-house OMS/EMS system that managed — and continues to manage — all of MSIM’s execution flow. Not only was this platform less expensive than MSIM’s previous platform, but it also eliminated the various operational issues that plagued the prior version. And because it’s an in-house solution, MSIM has the ability to update the platform whenever necessary, and to customize the platform based on customer demand. As a bonus, the ZeroMQ open source community grew support for Kerberos/GSSAPI security.

MSIM re-engaged Connamara in 2017 in the wake of MiFID II, with the goal of making the platform compliant with the new regulations. Connamara completed the updates in six months.

“Working with Connamara was a smooth and enjoyable experience, and the Connamara team has deep expertise in capital markets,” said David Kim, Managing Director at MSIM. “Our partnership, and the resulting platform, have been hugely successful.”