Morgan Stanley Plays Musical Chairs with Managers
(Updates in fifth paragraph with departure of a Morgan Stanley complex manager in Boston.)
In a daisy chain of branch changes, Morgan Stanley has moved an experienced New York City manager to run a “subcomplex” in Boca Raton, Florida, within days of shifting another veteran Manhattan manager to fill an empty seat coaching private wealth brokers in Chicago.
Frank Novello, who has managed big-city branches for most of his 20-year career with Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney and UBS, has shifted from overseeing some 90 brokers at the firm’s 1 Penn Plaza branch in New York City to running its main Boca Raton, Fla., branch, with dotted-line supervision of a satellite office in Boca. The two branches together include 60 to 70 advisors, said sources at the firm.
Novello’s move 10 days ago coincided with Morgan Stanley’s shifting of Michael Simeone from managing a large hometown branch office at 522 Fifth Avenue to Chicago to oversee its high-net-worth “private wealth management” brokers in the city. Both managers earned their spurs at Smith Barney and were part of a common New York City complex.
Morgan Stanley has not yet filled their former spots in New York, a spokeswoman said.
The firm also is seeking to replace William Drew, a 29-year veteran of Smith Barney and Morgan Stanley who left his Boston complex manager post two weeks ago to oversee Raymond James’ growing group of employee-channel offices in New England.
The shifts illustrate the difficulties of filling the high-pressure roles of branch management at a time when their primary branch-growth responsibility has shifted from recruiting to retaining experienced advisors in the face of new compensation policies that reward teaming, and pressure to have brokers sell credit as well as investment products while nurturing inexperienced new brokers, according to outside headhunters who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Novello, whose biography says he became a sales manager at PaineWebber within two years of beginning his brokerage career at Prudential Securities, is filling a position in Boca Raton that was vacated in November by Shannon Losey. She now oversees Wells Fargo Advisors’ West Palm Beach complex of four private client group branches, with 91 direct reports, a Wells spokeswoman said.
In Chicago, Simeone replaced Charles E. “Chuck” Rice, who joined Morgan Stanley as a complex manager in 2008. He began a “garden leave” in January that restrains him from immediately taking a position at a rival firm.
Novello has worked closely with Morgan Stanley’s Southeast regional director, Ralph Balzano, said sources at the firm. In an echo of the complexities of finding experienced branch management, Morgan Stanley last year shifted Balzano south from a management post in the Northeast to fill a vacant position.
Novello, who has a second residence near the North Military Trail office in Boca Raton that he now manages, reports to Aventura, Florida-based complex manager Bill Van Scoyoc. In his relatively unusual position as “sub-complex” manager, Novello oversees Eduardo Ortea, manager of the firm’s Technology Way office in Boca.
That branch lost two advisors jointly producing $1.5 million to Wells Fargo Advisors on the eve of President’s Day Weekend, one of at least three Morgan Stanley teams in the Deep South that left the firm on the Friday before the holiday.
In another unreported move on February 15, Washington D.C.-based broker John K. Marshall has left Morgan Stanley to join Wells Fargo’s private client group.
Marshall, who spent the first seven years of his 18-year brokerage career at Merrill Lynch before joining Morgan Stanley in 2008, said he had been generating around $830,000 in annual revenue, but declined to comment on his decision.
Wells has fattened recruiting packages throughout its employee and independent channels and sweetened incentives for recruiters. The company is hoping to reverse a steady exodus of brokers since late 2016 after its parent disclosed that bank employees created fake bank and credit card accounts to meet sales quotas.