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James Gorman Wants Every Narcissistic Wall Streeter To Know They're Not Special

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What was one factor that largely contributed to the financial crisis? According to Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman, it was the guys who all thought they were suchhhhh big shots, whose formidable market savvy was matched only by the formidable bulge in their pants. “There are a fair number of the senior folks who actually believe they are uniquely qualified on all issues relating to finance,” Gorman said today. “As we saw, it’s just not true.” These people, Gorman says, need a smack to the face of reality, and it's not until we break them down and inform them that, no, they are not the market gurus they think they are and, in actuality, that they don't know shit, that we'll be able to fix this thing.

Gorman, speaking at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association conference, said some individuals “who in many cases were frankly pretty average” made as much as 10 times that of people in other industries during the financial crisis...Fixing the culture will require “creating a compensation system that better aligns or balances shareholders’ interests and the broader society’s interests with the individual’s interests, and changing the perception that it’s the individual that’s the hero,” Gorman, 52, said. “As an industry, we can have larger-than-life personalities, but individuals don’t make institutions.”

How do we start? By not encouraging these people with literal and literary blow jobs.

“The more you have this hero individual status, and lots of things written about them by journalist friends in the paper, the more likely that they are going to act out, because they start to believe it,” Gorman said.

Morgan Stanley's Gorman Says 'Hero' Culture Needs To Change


James Gorman Will Say Something Nice About Wall Street When Wall Street Earns It

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.