Morgan Stanley Wealth Management shuffles field leadership

Brokerage is consolidating three divisions into two and reducing its 12 regions to eight

Apr 8, 2014 @ 1:52 pm

By Mason Braswell

morgan stanley, wirehouse, leadership, regional, divisions
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(Bloomberg News)

Shortly after taking over as head of field management at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management at the end of February, Shelley O'Connor announced that she is restructuring the firm's divisions and regions.

The changes, which go into effect at the end of May, will reduce the number of divisions at the firm to two, from three, and will consolidate the firm's 12 regions into eight, according to a memorandum sent Tuesday to the firm's approximately 16,500 financial advisers.

Doug Kentfield, one of three divisional directors and a legacy Smith Barney manager, will be leaving the firm “to pursue other opportunities,” according to the memo.

His plans were not immediately clear.

David Lessing will also no longer be serving as chief operating officer for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, according to firm spokesman Jim Wiggins. Mr. Wiggins declined to comment on Mr. Lessing's new position because the move had not yet been announced but said that the plan was for him to fill another role internally.

Mr. Lessing was appointed to the role approximately six years ago, Mr. Wiggins said.

Four other regional directors will be reassigned to other roles within Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, though the firm didn't specify what they will be doing.

The regional directors who are moving are Jeff Adams, John Campbell, Kevin Forman and Matthew Maloney.

They will most likely be moved into complex director positions, according to a source familiar with the moves who asked not to be identified.

Bill McMahon and Rick Skae will oversee the two remaining divisions.

Mr. McMahon will oversee the Western Division, led by Craig Norton in the Southeast, Curt Peterson in the Southwest, Michael Struckman and Ron Thacker for Southern Central.

Mr. Skae is responsible for the eastern division, with regional managers Steve Austin in the Midwest, Ralph Balzano in the New York metro area, Lisa Cregan in the Mid Atlantic and Rick Ryan in New England reporting to him.

The moves are the latest effort to streamline management since the firm reduced the number of divisions to 12, from 16, in 2012.

Morgan Stanley chairman and chief executive James Gorman has said that he is hoping to push the firm's profit margins in wealth management as high as 25% by 2015 after reaching the goal of near-20% margins sooner than expected. The number of complexes and branches will remain the same, Ms. O'Connor said in the memo. The firm had no plans to reduce adviser head count, said Morgan Stanley spokeswoman Christine Jockle, who confirmed the contents of the memo.

Morgan Stanley is adding responsibilities for three executives. Mandell Crawley, the head of business development, is now also responsible for field talent development and adviser recognition programs.

Barry Goldstein will act as chief operating officer and take responsibility for managing advisers' recruitment and compensation, according to the memo.

Lisa Golia remains the chief administrative officer but will partner with the technology unit to help develop the firm's 3D platform.

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