Morgan Stanley Managers Live It Up in San Diego
It’s been a helluva start to a new year at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, but the new co-heads of the world’s biggest brokerage firm are telling their lieutenants, “Hey, don’t worry.”
The sunny message is being delivered this week from the balmy climes of San Diego, where field-force managers gathered at the Hilton Bayfront for their annual conclave. They are there to learn where new co-heads Shelley O’Connor and Andy Saperstein plan to lead them.
read more: MS Brokers Brace for Sap-and-Shelley Show
O’Connor acknowledged the management turmoil following former chief Greg Fleming’s surprise announcement that he was leaving, but promised “no more” restructurings despite her own penchant for change and a now-abandoned plan to rejigger the field structure, an East Coast manager tells us.
She also said that Fleming’s plan to bring the retail force into the digital age continues apace, characterizing mobile communication and digital money management as client-engagement necessities in today’s world, the manager said.
In what we presume was one of his last executive acts, Fleming hired Naureen Hassan, who developed much of the strategy for Charles Schwab’s fast-growing robo-advisor project, as chief digital officer for wealth management. O’Connor offered no specifics, but in her early days Hassan has told nervous brokers that no digital product can succeed without the .
We got wind of the conference from an advisor worrying about the rigorous belt-tightening project that is coming from Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman. This year’s managers conclave is not at a seaside resort, but seeing pictures on Facebook of some guys he knew on a golf course near the hotel got him thinking:
“All these budget cuts Gorman said are coming must start after the national manager conference….They are really slumming at that “budget Waldorf-Astoria La Quinta.” This, while I sit at my desk getting emails from the IT dept about all the platforms broken and my all-star sales assistant pissed that most support staff not getting any raise this year.
Want to raise profitability….? Invest in the systems so they don’t constantly break and the salaries of support staff.”
We’re sure a good portion of MS’s meeting expenses is subsidized by mutual funds and other “product partners” eager to win friends and influence advisers about what to sell. But we also can’t help thinking that O’Connor and Saperstein might take a management tip from this poet and child-labor reformer when planning their next meeting venue.
The Golf Links
The golf links lie so near the mill
That almost every day
The laboring children can look out
And see the men at play.
–Sarah Norcliffe Cleghorn