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Senior trader leaves Morgan Stanley in Asia, despite big promotion

Two senior traders are understood to have left Morgan Stanley in Asia. Alok Modi has departed, having landed a big promotion to Morgan Stanley's head of macro trading for APAC only last year, according to two sources close to the US bank. Pankaj Jha, head of South Asia rates trading, has also exited Morgan Stanley in Singapore, having joined in January 2017.

The destinations of the two men aren’t yet known. A spokesperson from Morgan Stanley declined to comment on their departures. Jha did not respond to a request to comment on his move, while Modi was not immediately contactable.

Modi has a history of landing quick promotions. As we reported in July 2018, he relocated to Asia following a stint at Morgan Stanley in London. Modi joined MS as head of government bond and CDS trading for Europe in 2014, but in January 2015 – about a year later – he was made a managing director, a remarkable promotion given his short tenure at the firm.

Prior to Morgan Stanley, Modi worked as a director in long-end STRIPS trading at Barclays, but quit the British bank in late 2013, just before it began trimming its fixed income trading business.

Modi’s now-former MS colleague Jha was at Credit Suisse between 2009 and 2017, latterly as a director in Asian rates trading, according to his LinkedIn profile. He is understood to have had a stellar record trading EM rates at Credit Suisse and was roped in to turn around the EM rates business at Morgan Stanley.

Prior to CS, Jha was an FX/rates trader at Nomura from 2008 to 2009, after the Japanese bank took over the Asian operations of Lehman Brothers, where Jha worked for just under two years. Jha has an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad.

There’s some good news for Morgan Stanley elsewhere in Asia. In a strategic update published in the first quarter, CEO James Gorman highlighted several “growth initiatives” in the region. For example, Morgan Stanley is expanding its coverage of four “new economy” sectors: consumer, IT, media and entertainment, and healthcare. It’s also prioritising cross-border financing in Asia, and is committed to taking a majority stake in its mainland China securities joint venture.

If you want to work for the most expansionist unit at Morgan Stanley in Asia, however, wealth management is probably your best bet. While Morgan Stanley is already one of the largest wealth managers in the US, the firm sees room for growth in Asia, where it is a medium-sized player, ranked fifth by regional assets under management in 2018 ($105bn). “That’s where I’d like to invest – Hong Kong, Singapore – go hard at it,” CEO Gorman told a conference in New York in June, referring to private banking.

Image credit, DonFord1, Getty

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AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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