Morgan Stanley

For the last year or so, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman has sent a simple message to employees grumbling about compensation: STFU or GTFO. Now, according to Charles Gasparino, the bank may be telling a few employees to GTFO regardless of whether or not they’ve been bitching about pay. Read more »

If you’re looking for a cheerleader, go bark up another tree.

“Say you want to be out ahead of it and give a lot of speeches and talk about all the good we’re doing,” Gorman said today at an industry conference in New York. “And then some trader does some stupid thing like this guy at UBS did and he’s in jail and all bets are off,” Gorman said. He was referring to Kweku Adoboli, the UBS AG trader convicted of fraud this month in the largest unauthorized trading loss in British history…Traders at New York-based Morgan Stanley had too much latitude in the past, “what I call having an outsized sandbox,” Gorman, 54, said at the conference, which was sponsored by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. “Until we can be really confident we’ve got discipline around the sandboxes, I think you have to be really careful not to be holier than thou,” Gorman said. “We’re going to be in the doghouse for a while.”

Incidentally, this would a good time to mention that Gorman’s bonus policy instituted last January– STFU or GTFO– still stands. Read more »

Back in December 2007, things weren’t going so well for Matthew Marshall Taylor. He’d just been fired from Goldman Sachs and not only was he out of a job, but his prospects for finding a new one didn’t look so hot, on account of the fact that Goldman planned to put a note in his file detailing the reason he’d been let go– “for building an ‘inappropriately large’ proprietary trading position”– and it seemed unlikely anyone at the firm would be open to serving as a reference for him moving forward.  Three months later, however, one bank told MMT that there was room for him at their inn. Morgan Stanley, apparently having decided the incident at Goldman was but an asterisk in what would be a long and fruitful career, told Taylor to come on down, employing him for over four years until he left in July of his own accord and not because of any legal issues relating to his work at Goldman Sachs. Read more »

The criminal case against a former Morgan Stanley executive charged with stabbing a cab driver following a fare dispute was dropped Monday after a Connecticut state’s attorney revealed that the driver never turned the knife over to police. The driver, Mohamed Ammar, “had the knife the whole time,” said supervisory assistant state’s attorney Steven Weiss. “He had ample opportunity to tell police and he didn’t do that.” [...] Weiss emphasized that Jennings didn’t immediately call police and described him as uncooperative. But he said Ammar couldn’t adequately explain why he never gave the knife to investigators, even after an interview and a search of his cab. “I simply can’t go forward when I have a witness who didn’t cooperate with police,” Weiss said of Ammar. Jennings attended the brief hearing and thanked his family and attorney. “Obviously it feels good,” he said outside court. [WSJ, earlier]

Remember William Bryan Jennings? To recap, he’s the Morgan Stanley executive who last December had a cab take him home to Darien, Connecticut from Manhattan and, according to the driver, refused to pay the $200 fare and instead began threatening the guy with racial slurs before intentionally stabbing his hand with a pen knife. According to WBJ’s lawyer, there were no threats or slurs and while the stabbing did happen, it was by accident and Jennings only pulled out the knife he had on him because he was “fearful for his safety” and “did not intend to hurt” the driver. The two parted ways around midnight, at which time Jennings went to bed and the cabbie called the police, who had trouble identifying WBJ until they got a lucky break with video footage from the deli on 10th Avenue he asked the driver to stop at for snacks on the way to CT. Anyway, Jennings, who turned himself in two weeks after the incident following a family vacation in Florida and was later placed on leave from Morgan Stanley, was set to appear in court on Monday but then this happened: Read more »

Buried in a footnote1 a while back I ruminated on the fact that, in the deal where Morgan Stanley bought a chunk of its Morgan Stanley Smith Barney brokerage JV from Citigroup, Morgan Stanley got a sort-of-free option to buy the rest of Smith Barney, and how that option is (1) valuable and (2) sort of cheap funding. That was basically all wrong, sorry! The lesson is, never read footnotes.

Charlie Gasparino is reporting that “Morgan Stanley chief James Gorman is making a full-court press with regulators to expedite the purchase of the remaining piece of the Smith Barney brokerage firm from Citigroup, moving up the buyout date as much as two years ahead of schedule,” so I guess Gorman puts the time value of that option at zero or less. As for cheap funding, Goldman had a research note this week saying that they met with Morgan Stanley and heard the same story, and also that:

At the margin, full MSSB ownership should have a meaningful impact on ROE as: 1) MS is still paying Citigroup a portion of earnings from the JV despite holding capital to support the entire business, 2) synergies with the Institutional Securities business will grow (i.e. client flow routing), and 3) the funding profile and client product offering mix will improve.

I think the second two things say something like “Citi won’t appreciate us shoving all of our MSSB customers into high-margin Morgan Stanley products, so we have to get rid of them before doing that,” though you could read them otherwise. The first thing calls the cheap-funding argument into some doubt, though maybe not that much doubt; Morgan Stanley’s capital is by some metrics cheaper than Citi’s, while its (credit market) funding is more expensive, so maybe this is still a good deal.

Anyway here’s what Gasparino has to say about the delay: Read more »