Morgan Stanley Chief Executive James Gorman said Friday that he plans to step down as the bank’s chief executive officer within a year, noting that the investment bank has a strong bench of internal candidates to serve as its next leader.
Attention on the next likely CEO of Morgan Stanley MS,
- Andy Saperstein, co-president and head of wealth management, previously worked as co-head of the bank’s institutional securities group as well as in senior leadership positions in the bank’s wealth management unit. He joined the firm in 2006 and will represent Morgan Stanley at a Bernstein conference May 31.
- Edward “Ted” Pick is co-president, head of the institutional securities group and co-head of corporate strategy. He previously worked as global head of sales and trading and was credited with a turnaround of the firm’s fixed income unit, according to his biography on Morgan Stanley’s website. He joined Morgan Stanley in 1990 and became a managing director in 2002.
- Dan Simkowitz is Morgan Stanley’s head of investment management and co-head of corporate strategy. He joined the firm in 1990 and has worked in New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong. He also was the bank’s co-head of global capital markets, as well as the lead capital markets partner for Morgan Stanley’s assignments for the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve from 2008 to 2012.
With a 215.5% gain since then end of January of 2010 when Gorman took over, Morgan Stanley’s stock has outperformed the Financial Select Sector SPDR exchange-traded-fund XLF,
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In the coming months, Morgan Stanley’s compensation, management development and succession committee of the board, which is chaired by Dennis Nally, will continue its succession-planning process. That committee then reports to the full board, headed by lead independent director Tom Glocer.
Morgan Stanley spokespeople contacted by MarketWatch did not comment on the three potential candidates.
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Randall Peterson, professor at London Business School and author of “Disaster in the Boardroom: Six Dysfunctions Everyone Should Understand,” said Morgan Stanley’s choice to look at internal candidates is a sign that the company is moving to extend its current culture into the next generation of leadership.
“There’s an old saying…that when you have to hire an outside CEO, sell your stock now,” Peterson said.
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The question remains whether Gorman will allow the new CEO to have free rein since he’s expected to remain as chairman for the foreseeable future.
“If the new person comes in and is stable, that’s one thing, but if there’s any wobble, [Gorman] won’t go anywhere for a while,” Peterson said.
The incoming Morgan Stanley CEO would have to work quickly to score a win of some kind, walking a “tight rope” with the board until that happens, Peterson said.
While it may appear that Saperstein is a potential successor to Gorman given his speaking role at an upcoming Bernstein conference and his status leading the high-profile wealth-management unit, Peterson said the most predictable outcomes don’t always play out when it comes to internal CEO candidates.
“When it comes to people everyone thought [would be] actually getting the job, it’s kind of 50-50” as far as whether they do end up getting the nod, Peterson said. “The good thing is they have a richness of options here for people they could go to internally. I’d worry if they had to discuss externally.”
Peterson said the language in Gorman’s Friday commentary saying that the CEO decision will be made “in the absence of a major change in the external environment” signals that he plans to remain at the helm if an unexpected situation arises in the sector.
It’s also a sign that Gorman may be challenged to fully let go of his responsibilities and let the new CEO fully take over, he said.
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