Workplaces for emerging financial services firms
The ability to 'hit the ground running' is essential to firms establishing themselves in brokerage, hedge funds, private equity, commodities or other fast-moving sectors. Creating a workplace that functions efficiently from day one is the crucial first st
Poised to deliver
Few business sectors are as competitive as finance – an industry of demanding clients, sophisticated products and precise timing. And while the opportunities to succeed are plentiful, they are also often fleeting. For many new players in this fast-moving industry, establishing a workplace that ‘hits the ground running’ is a decisive advantage.
For these workplaces, it means not only choosing the right space, but ensuring it has the architecture, infrastructure and capability to support operations from day one. And just as importantly, they must be delivered on time and budget, with a minimum of unexpected complication and expense.
Over the past three decades, M Moser Associates has been meeting these needs with a complete spectrum of integrated in-house capability. For a wide range of clients in major financial markets, our single-source design, engineering and construction expertise has been the key to establishing workplaces of immediate effectiveness and enduring quality.
Exploring space options
Selecting the right space is the first critical task for any newly established business or business unit. For financial sector firms in particular, the ‘right space’ can mean a combination of the following:
- desirable location and address
- adequate floor area/room for expansion
- adequate heating/cooling and ventilation capacity
- acceptable lease terms
- sufficient power supply
- adequate data distribution infrastructure
- professional building management and maintenance
- attractive building lobby/entrance
- sufficient slab-to-slab ceiling height
- suitable floor plate characteristics
- acceptable move-in date
Integrated project delivery: Speed, simplicity & value
By necessity, those establishing a new workplace often also take on the task of orchestrating the overlapping responsibilities of disparate professionals for locating and securing space (real estate), design, engineering, IT, construction, and procurement of furniture and equipment. By contrast, M Moser Associates offers all the required capability under a single clear source of project expertise.
Through this integrated project delivery (IPD) approach, M Moser can apply the precise mix of expertise needed to fulfill each client’s aims – from consultancy to comprehensive ‘total solutions’. This can include prelease services that help identify the best possible spatial ‘fit’. An essential part of the process is due diligence, a thorough and professional investigation which yields a wealth of data about the space and its base building. The result is a true and complete picture of a space’s qualities, potential advantages and shortcomings. This knowledge is crucial in determining a realistic total project cost. A due diligence report can also be a useful tool in negotiating favourable lease terms.
IPD ensures that all the project professionals involved work collaboratively and synchronously toward a clear client-defined objective. This means greater efficiency and fewer conflicts and expensive technical problems.
Anatomy of an effective workplace
An extraordinarily complex matrix of social psychology, communications, and use of market data systems and information technology underpins daily business in the financial services sector. In simple terms, the success of a financial services workplace is judged on how fully it supports these activities.
When appropriate, M Moser can begin projects by engaging in dialogue with executives, managers, administrators and employees. This process quickly fleshes out the basic project brief with information which powerfully influences how space is planned and designed:
These strategies are among the many options to consider when planning and designing a new space: M Moser’s objective is to determine the precise balance of form and function that will meet the needs of – and deliver maximum value to – each individual client.
The trading room
The trading room is among the most challenging spaces to design and execute. Ideally, they are ‘barrier free’ environments, obstructing as little as possible the verbal and visual communication that are fundamental to routine trading activity. They are therefore best accommodated within floor plates that offer large column bay spacing and sufficient core-to-perimeter depth. Often, a data centre or equipment room (usually located within reasonably close proximity) is required to support the trading environment.
Special engineering requirements
Not surprisingly, both the trading room and data centre present considerable engineering challenges which can encompass:
- floor loading
- temperature control and supplemental cooling
- provision for uninterrupted power and emergency back-up
In many cases, these total cooling and electrical capacity needs can be met by the base building systems of a particularly well-chosen office location. Otherwise, it will be necessary for the tenant to provide their own supplemental systems as required to make up the difference.
Case Studies - One-source solution: From pre-lease to construction
A recent hedge fund office project by M Moser Associates illustrates some of the ways how an integrated approach to design can lead to more effective workspace delivery. In this case, M Moser was engaged by a New York-based client to create a ‘total solution’ for a new London office incorporating a trading room for approximately 30 traders. For budgetary reasons, a location in a newer, purpose-built ‘turn-key’ volume was out of the question. Instead, the office was located in a recently renovated office building with a typical ceiling height of approximately 2.4m.
For the trading room design, the building presented several challenges. While the floor area was more than sufficient for the projected number of traders, the floor-to-ceiling height was as much as a metre short of the ideal. Sightlines would also be interrupted by the many columns punctuating the volume. The long, narrow shape of the space was also far from ideal for trading purposes.
Working in close collaboration with the client, M Moser designers, planners, IT specialists and engineers evolved an integrated plan which would meet end-user needs within the designated volume. M Moser’s involvement in the project continued into the execution phase, as the team worked with the client and construction professionals to ensure completion at the expected time and to the expected level of quality.
Key features of the finished office include a trading room with workstations aligned to provide traders with direct lines of sight to the maximum possible number of colleagues. This minimises the need for staff to physically circulate through the space. Careful placement of overhead plasma screens similarly ensured that they did not obstruct sightlines inside the room, but were easily visible from most locations.
A further feature of interest is the office’s exceptionally versatile client-facing zone. When hosting large gatherings is necessary, the zone’s meeting rooms can be opened up to ‘spill’ into the staff lunchroom, and even onto a terrace. Though internally ‘open’ in character, the whole area was encapsulated within the floorplan so that meetings and other functions can be hosted without disrupting the work underway elsewhere in the office.