RayJay Hires $1.7 Billion-Asset Broker Ousted by Morgan Stanley over Online Post
A top-ranked Morgan Stanley private wealth broker in Chicago fired in July after a friend posted a photo of him in a boating party with someone holding a noose-like rope knot has been hired at Raymond James Financial’s Alex. Brown unit.
Mark W. Birringer, who was managing $1.7 billion in client assets at Morgan Stanley, according to a recent Forbes ranking, joined Raymond James on Wednesday with his longtime partner John C. Joyce, according to their BrokerCheck records.
According to an article in the Manitowoc (WI) Herald Times Reporter, a local orthodontist posted a photo on Facebook of himself, a bar proprietor and two other individuals with one of them holding a knotted rope and a caption, “It really is a garage door pull.”
The reference was an apparent allusion to a rope found in NASCAR racing champion Bubba Wallace’s team garage a few days earlier that was mistakenly thought to be a noose. Wallace is one of the few Blacks on the Nascar circuit, and the incident prompted an FBI hate crime investigation.
Birringer was holding the rope in the boat photo, according to two people familiar with the incident.
Morgan Stanley’s U5 filing said Birringer had explained to the firm that the Facebook posting “was not approved by him.”
Raymond James “thoroughly investigated the circumstances surrounding the photo in question at the time it was taken and have full evidence that the advisor was holding a properly coiled dock line,” company spokesman Steve Hollister said in an email.
“We are confident with the veracity of his explanation and his stated commitment to the firm’s zero-tolerance policy,” he said, noting that Birringer “immediately disavowed” the posting upon learning about it.
The orthodontist who posted the photo subsequently eliminated the original caption, writing that he sincerely apologized for the racist implications, according to the Times Reporter article.
“We were all learning to tie a bowline knot and were so proud when we could finally do it,” he wrote. In a follow-up statement to the paper he said he understood how offensive the posting was and assumed “full responsibility” for his actions.
A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman declined to comment.
Birringer, who was not mentioned in the article, declined to comment.
Forbes ranked Birringer #24 in Illinois this year, with Morgan Stanley-custodied team assets of $1.7 billion as of mid-January. (Barron’s listed him #18 in the state based on total assets of $8.4 billion managed by his six-person team. It said he worked with 45 households.)
Birringer began his licensed brokerage career at American Express Financial Advisors in 1986, shifted to Morgan Stanley for a seven-year stint in 1992, and jumped to Merrill Lynch for eight years in 1999 before rejoining Smith Barney in 2008, according to BrokerCheck. He has a single disclosure in the database, a 2001 allegation from a customer of an unsuitable investment that his firm denied.
Joyce, his team partner, is a 26-year industry veteran who began his brokerage career in 1993 at Morgan Stanley and subsequently made the same career shifts as Birringer. Forbes ranked Joyce #62 on its 202 list of top advisors in Illinois.