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Gorman’s Goodbye: Inside a C.E.O. Succession Bake-Off

Morgan Stanley C.E.O. James Gorman has set up a ‘Succession’-like race to succeed him.
Morgan Stanley C.E.O. James Gorman has set up a ‘Succession’-like race to succeed him. Photo: Peter Parks/AFP via Getty Images
William D. Cohan
May 24, 2023

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.