Christopher Corrado’s Only Constant is Change

Christopher Corrado, CIO for MSCI, is responsible for technology, data-content services, and the firm’s project management office. Here’s how he uses his financial-service experience to serve institutional customers and respond to their changing needs.

Change Will Do You Good

MSCI works with financial institutions in risk management, portfolio construction, and portfolio analytics. Our research-driven insights are based on forty years of academic research, experience, and collaboration with clients.

In response to the changes facing the industry—specifically Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulations related to corporate governance and reporting in the financial sector—MSCI has focused on overhauling its client-facing platform to integrate risk and portfolio management. We are in a unique position to be at the center of the investment process, spark innovation, and give clients more flexibility to make these risk- and portfolio-management systems work for their needs in a global environment that’s becoming more and more complex.

“I believe in building strong relationships with clients and the public to better understand and serve their pain points so we can deliver solutions they need.”

What’s Old Is New Again

MSCI has created a new proprietary system with the foundation we had in place while adapting to an industry that has become more heavily regulated. The services we provide, such as risk management, portfolio construction, and portfolio analytics, are extremely important for our clients to make money as well as abide by the changing regulatory landscape.

The guts of our system are not new, per se. What is changing is the scalability and performance of the technology platform in order to meet client demand.

Leaders Lead

The combination of scalability, performance, cost-effectiveness, and reliability has helped us demonstrate that our company is a trusted partner for our clients. There is a service component as well, which is extremely important. Ultimately, we are a content creation and distribution company with significant and deep knowledge of the financial industry and understanding of our clients’ requirements and businesses.

I provided the necessary funding and air cover so the team could build additional scalability and performance. This then created a sense of determination, and the team got the real work done. Sometimes, one has to understand what it takes to get this type of work right, from a quality and scheduling standpoint, and get out of the way of the people getting the actual work done.

Surviving During Turbulent Times

MSCI has thrived—and continues to do so—in an industry that has become highly regulated. A few characteristics defining MSCI and its ability to succeed are an unwavering client focus and our ability to respond to clients’ needs with speed and agility. We have a deep understanding of our clients’ businesses, and we recognize the importance of what we do to help the investment process and navigate today’s complex markets.

Stick to Your Principles

As CIO, I believe in building strong relationships with clients and the public to better understand and serve their pain points so we can deliver solutions they need. In addition, there are key guiding principles I use in my role at MSCI and in my career as a whole.

First of all, I think it’s important to come to work each day willing to be fired. That means being willing to take risks and be true to your goals in every action you take, even if that means that you might ruffle some feathers. Following your intuition is crucial, and it’s always better to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

I also find it imperative to step in and do any job needed to make your project work, regardless of your job description. As CIO, that might mean I spend some of my time on tasks that other CIOs might not consider within their purview. I also think it’s vital to find people to help you; you can’t always go it alone.

It’s important to know how things work and get to the root of them. It reduces uncertainty, which is what we are all about.

Executive Lessons

There are some key lessons I’ve learned during my career that have helped me in my role at MSCI. There are also lessons I think executives should learn in order to bring success to the companies in which they work.

Executives should start by coming to work on time—better yet, come to work earlier than anyone else in the office. When you’re at work, be intellectually curious and try to understand how things work. Maintain a sense of urgency in everything you do. When problems arise, get to the root of them and fix them once. Work cross-functionally. Use the Socratic method where applicable to influence others.