Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman To Step Down Within 12 Months

The CEO oversaw Morgan Stanley’s push into the wealth management space.

Morgan Stanley’s James Gorman plans to step down in the next 12 months, the CEO and chairman said at the investment firm’s annual shareholder conference Friday.

“The specific timing of the CEO transition has not been determined, but it is the board and my expectation that it will take place in the next 12 months,” he said. “That is the current expectation in the absence of major change in the external environment.”

Gorman was named CEO of Morgan Stanley in 2010, replacing John Mack, who had steered the firm through the financial crisis. Gorman told shareholders that Morgan Stanley’s board had identified three potential successors, but did not name them.

Gorman, 64, oversaw a push by the New York-based investment bank into wealth management and investment advice, with the investment management division staffed with 1,300 financial professionals overseeing $1.4 trillion in assets under management as of March 31.

Gorman’s push into retail investment management included the acquisition of E*Trade Financial Corp. in February of 2020, at which time the CEO said the deal would make the firm a top player across financial advisory, self-directed investing, and workplace savings. He noted the acquisition would continue “the decade-long transition of our firm to a more balance sheet light business mix, emphasizing more durable sources of revenue,” Gorman said in a statement at the time.

In October of that same year, Morgan Stanley bought wealth manager Eaton Vance Corp., bringing on $500 billion in AUM, as well as the firm’s capabilities in individual separate accounts and customized investment solutions.

“Eaton Vance is a perfect fit for Morgan Stanley,” Gorman said in a statement at the time. “This transaction further advances our strategic transformation by continuing to add more fee-based revenues to complement our world-class investment banking and institutional securities franchise.”

Wealth-Focused Career

Gorman took the CEO role after being co-president of Morgan Stanley and overseeing the firm’s global wealth management business, investment management business and operations and technology group. Gorman joined Morgan Stanley in February 2006 as president and chief operating officer of the global wealth management group.

Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, Gorman led the global private client business for the then investment firm Merrill Lynch, which is now owned by Bank of America Corp.

Gorman is a native of Australia with an M.B.A. from Columbia University.

Retirement Footprint

Morgan Stanley’s Graystone Consulting, which provides retirement plan advisement to plan sponsors, named a new head in 2020 from the wealth management space. The workplace retirement advisory named Jeremiah France, formerly chief operating officer of U.S. Wealth at Mercer Global Investments, to be managing director and head of the division.

The firm’s workplace benefits and investing division, Morgan Stanley at Work, late last year added 401(k) retirement saver robo-adviser technology when it purchased the technology of Blooom, a Leawood, Kansas-based startup. Morgan Stanley also brought on some of Blooom’s leadership, according to statements it made at the time, without providing details of the deal.

“To help bolster our retirement offering, we can confirm we bought components of Blooom’s technology in an asset purchase, while onboarding the Blooom team,” the spokesperson said in an emailed response.