For those of you who were unaware, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman has one hard and fast rule, which is simply this: he will cut a bitch who refers to or calls him anything other than James. As in no Jim, no Jimbo, no Big J, no Jimmy, no Uncle Jim, no Jimmy Crack Corn, no Jimmy Cakes, no J'may and no JP Gorman Chase. It's not just a pet peeve of his like, oh, 'I hate it when people call him Jim, really ticks me off,' it's a 'I will beat the ass of anyone-- anyone-- who calls me anything but James. Not kidding- I'll scratch their fucking eyes out.' This is well-known inside Morgan Stanley and as Ji--I mean James is so serious about it, his handlers go to great lengths to make sure anyone who interfaces with him from the outside is well-aware of what he wants to be called. One person who recently became acquainted with the rule? Charlie Gasparino, with whom it did not sit well.
I've been covering Wall Street now for two decades and never before have I been corrected by a CEOs' handlers about a first name as much as I have when it comes to Gorman, who took the top job at Morgan about a year ago, and is now struggling to recreate that bank in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, which it barely survived.
"Of course, Gorman should go by whatever name makes him feel comfortable," Chaz says but here's the thing-- it makes Chaz highly uncomfortable, this not being allowed to call James Jim thing, not that there's anything wrong with that. What's more, this rule of Gorman's is isn't just about a name. Rather, Charlie actually posits, it's indicative of what's going to doom Morgan Stanley, and why CG fears James at the helm can only mean trouble.
...there is something unsettling about someone in charge of so much worrying about something so trivial (it wasn't like I called him "Jimbo").
And that's starting to become the general consensus on Wall Street, both among his fellow CEOs, analysts who cover the firm and even people inside Morgan Stanley. Most admit that Gorman is a nice enough fellow, very intelligent, and in person doesn't come across as the the type of stuck-up jerk who gets crazy when you call him Jim instead of James. But there's also a worry from these quarters that Gorman and his PR handlers are spending way too much time convincing people he's a serious CEO to compensate for what some on Wall Street believe is a serious lack of the right kind of experience to run a major investment bank.
Chaz isn't the only one who thinks this, by the way. He's got sources who agree.
For all the worry about his image, Gorman's obsession (and the obsession of his PR staff) with being called James doesn't help convince investors and analysts he's a serious executive. "We all call him 'James don't call me Jim Gorman,'" said another analyst with a laugh.
The situation is fluid.