MORS is 25 years old today!

Can you believe it’s 25 years ago since Petri Makkonen and I kicked the first ever MORS system into life? Yes, it was on 16th March 1996 in the basement of Handelsbanken, Helsinki. That very first version of MORS was able to read transaction data, all new deals from the front office system of the bank and calculate interest rate risk on the fly.

It took only two weeks to get the first system live! From the initial plan to running the system and calculating interest rate risk sensitivities, took only two weeks. It was an amazing moment.

Today our system celebrates its 25th anniversary! Happy Birthday MORS!

We experienced many memorable moments in 1996 as we continued to develop the system further. In just a few months, the system was able to calculate Liquidity Risk, FX position and counterparty credit exposures. Additionally, the system also provided the daily P/L, with marked-to-market valuations. The system was pretty quick in those days and was able to update all risk surfaces by receiving new transactions and calculating necessary cash flows. Already back then, all exposures were measured against real-time limits. All of this in 1996, very much in line with today’s requirements, well ahead of its time!

In 1996, while building the system, we had the incredible notion of understanding the time difference between risk and P/L. The difference between risk and P/L is one second! When a risky position matures close to the current moment in time, it freezes and becomes locked as P/L, precisely at the moment it slides from the present and into history. It’s a marvelous thought; having all risk surfaces in one integrated system and integrating these multiple risk surfaces with the P/L, and already in 1996! It is something we take for granted in MORS for 25 years, but it is still today not the case in many banks, nor with many current software solutions from other vendors. We were pioneers!

Do you remember, Makkonen, how we had our all-inclusive ‘specifications, programming, control calculations and testing’ type of ‘all-at-the-same-time’ sessions at the bank? During that first year, we continuously added new functionality to the system that miraculously did everything in real time already back then. I remember how we sat in the Middle Office room at the bank for many long evenings. Some evenings my young son was sleeping in his car seat on the table, and my Doberman was sleeping under the table. Fantastic days, very fond memories and great fun. We created a lot in those months, and it was just the team of two, you and me. Yes, on some occasions, those silent assistants, a baby and a dog, were participating in our development sessions as well!

The physical location of the M/O room was in fact on a long corridor between the sea-side view Front Office trading room and the Back Office view of the carpark. In those days the risk control operation, due to its location, became known as the ‘middle office’. That’s why the ‘all new automated reporting system’ became known as the Middle Office Reporting System. Yes, it’s as simple as that, the system has henceforth been called MORS.

The MORS journey continues and it’s more exciting than ever. It is still great fun, and a lot of value is created every day. From the original architecture of an Access based bowl of spaghetti, the system architecture evolved over the years into SQL, .NET and all the new visualisation features of today. Since 1996 the system has been completely re-written six times. Currently we are on version 6.2, and version 6.3 will be available in June. Thereafter, as is our rhythm, every 6 months a completely new system version is launched and delivered to all MORS licensed customers.

The original team of two is still in the company! However, luckily for us, today our team includes many other key professionals, such as system development financial engineers, customer service super stars and subject matter expert consultants, who all are running the daily operation of the company, together with us, the founders.

Pausing for a while and putting these memories on paper makes me humble and grateful. As part of our normal daily routines, it’s just so easy to forget to stop and think back to all the nice moments we have had along the way.

Thank you Makkonen! It has been a fantastic journey.