Morgan Stanley ‘s CEO and chairman, James Gorman, announced at the company’s annual shareholder conference on Friday that he intends to step down within the next 12 months.
While the specific timing of the transition is yet to be determined, Gorman stated that both he and the board expect the change to occur within the next year, barring any significant shifts in the external environment. Gorman, who assumed the role of CEO in 2010, succeeded John Mack, the leader who guided the firm through the challenges of the financial crisis. During the conference, Gorman shared that the board has identified three potential successors, although their names were not disclosed.
Under Gorman’s leadership, Morgan Stanley made notable strides in expanding its wealth management and investment advisory services. As of March 31, the investment management division boasted a team of 1,300 financial professionals overseeing $1.4 trillion in assets under management. Gorman’s strategic focus on retail investment management led to the acquisition of E Trade Financial Corp. in February 2020, positioning the firm as a prominent player in financial advisory, self-directed investing, and workplace savings. The acquisition was part of the company’s decade-long transition towards a more balanced and sustainable revenue model.
In the same year, Morgan Stanley acquired wealth manager Eaton Vance Corp, adding $500 billion in assets under management and augmenting the firm’s capabilities in individual separate accounts and customized investment solutions. Gorman expressed his satisfaction with the acquisition, emphasizing how it aligned with the company’s strategic transformation goals.
Before assuming the CEO role, Gorman served as co-president of Morgan Stanley, overseeing various divisions, including global wealth management, investment management, and operations and technology. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley in 2006, he held leadership positions, including heading the global private client business at Merrill Lynch, which is now owned by Bank of America Corp. Gorman hails from Australia and holds an M.B.A. from Columbia University.
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Within Morgan Stanley, changes have also taken place in the retirement plan advisory space. In 2020, Jeremiah France, formerly the COO of U.S. Wealth at Mercer Global Investments, was appointed as the new head of Graystone Consulting, the division responsible for providing retirement plan advisement to plan sponsors. Additionally, Morgan Stanley at Work, the firm’s workplace benefits and investing division, acquired robo-adviser technology from Blooom, a Kansas-based startup focused on 401(k) retirement savings. The acquisition included onboarding key members of Blooom’s leadership team, enhancing Morgan Stanley’s retirement offerings.