During Morgan Stanley’s annual shareholders meeting, last Friday, C.E.O. James Gorman announced that he was leaving the job “sometime in the next 12 months” and that he would then become the firm’s executive chairman “for a period of time.” Notably, Gorman’s handling of the succession question at Morgan Stanley distinguishes him from his Wall Street rival, Jamie Dimon. Whereas Jamie has muddled the succession puzzle at JPMorgan Chase, Gorman has clarified it at Morgan Stanley, to his considerable credit. “An issue of paramount importance to shareholders, employees and clients is of course succession,” he told the annual meeting. “And, no, I’m not just talking about the TV series, and I definitely have no plans to go out like Logan Roy.”
But Gorman has set up a Succession-like race to succeed him. There’s Ted Pick, who runs Morgan Stanley’s investment bank; Andy Saperstein, who runs the largest part of the bank, its immensely successful and enviable wealth management division; and Dan Simkowitz, who runs the firm’s investment management division and is co-head of the firm’s strategy department. I have never met any of them. I assume they are all immensely well-qualified and any of them could be a worthy successor to Gorman. But there can be only one winner, one C.E.O. And given that this is Wall Street, a provincial village that operates on risk management and predicting the future, a stack-ranking has already begun and I’m getting the readout. Though I’ll keep you on the edge of your seat for a moment to contemplate the context of all this before delving into the personnel specifics.
C.E.O. succession is in the air on Wall Street, and, as Gorman suggests, not just because the 90-minute finale of the highly acclaimed HBO, er Max, series drops this Sunday. It’s Spring—a time for renewal, rebirth and replenishment, and occasionally new C.E.O.s. My old firm, Lazard, seems to be in the throes of a typical-Lazardian version of replacing its current chief executive, Ken Jacobs, who has had the job for nearly 14 years, with Peter Orszag, the former Obama-era budget director; the Journal reported the “news” on May 18, but nearly a week later, there is still nothing official out of 30 Rock, and no 8-K has been filed with the S.E.C. Well played, guys.