Morgan Stanley’s Pick and Gorman talk succession, strategy and challenges

By Tatiana Bautzer

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Morgan Stanley’s current CEO James Gorman and incoming CEO Ted Pick spoke with Reuters about the company’s leadership succession and strategy. Here are some quotes from the interview:


On Gorman: “Thanks to James’s leadership, we are quite a different firm from the one that we knew during the depths of the financial crisis. During James’s 14 years, we built a world class wealth and asset management business and we’ve continued to grow a world class investment bank alongside of it.”

On strategy: “There is no change in strategy. We just completed two major acquisitions, the three largest acquisitions post the financial crisis were headed by James, Smith Barney, E*Trade at the dawn of COVID and then Eaton Vance. We’ve integrated those transactions. We’re going to continue to execute as we have, and down the road, years from now, we’ll keep our eyes peeled. But we’ve got something we think is durable and winning across the two major businesses.”

On rival CEO candidates Andy Saperstein and Dan Simkowitz:

They “are not just amazing colleagues, they’re terrific friends. We’ve covered clients together, we’ve been doing town halls together in every combination. Dan and Andy have scouted acquisition targets together. Dan and I worked together as co-heads of strategy. Andy and I covered some of the large asset managers together.”

On the market: “It’s been a challenging market. The stock market has had a long-term outperformance that is extraordinary over multiple years. And this is a volatile environment for the entire group. So we will we will manage through it, but a couple of weeks of market action really has no bearing on how we’re thinking about the strategy.”


On Pick: “We picked (Pick) because he’s had a long history of showing he’s an exceptional operator. But that’s part of the job of being a CEO, the other part is the resilience, the judgment, the ability to create a followership. He breeds incredible loyalty from his people. He sat side-by-side with me for the last decade on pretty much every important issue this firm has been through.

“And you know, I saw him up and close when things were tense, when we went through some very tough times – he didn’t wilt. I know what it takes to be CEO of a global company. It takes, it takes enormous resilience and mental toughness, and he’s got that.”

On what he will do next: “Next year’ll be predominantly Morgan Stanley. I’ll do more in education, a little teaching. I chair Columbia Business School, I have a role at University of Melbourne, and I’ll do a bit of that. And I don’t know, I may go on a board or something. I’m still sorting that out. But right now, this is about celebrating Ted and his elevation.”

On the long-running investigation by U.S. regulators into the bank’s block trading practices: “It’s a DOJ and SEC matter, so I obviously can’t talk about it. But I’m comfortable, in a position I’ll be around to help fix up on the loose ends.”

(Reporting by Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by Lananh Nguyen and Sonali Paul)