Morgan Stanley Parts Ways with High-Profile Head of Sports Unit
Drew Hawkins, whose stewardship of Morgan Stanley’s three-year-old Global Sports and Entertainment unit has made him a high-profile wealth management figure, is leaving the firm, a spokeswoman confirmed.
Hawkins, who started as an intern at the firm in 1989 and became Morgan Stanley Wealth Management’s first black managing director, has spent his entire career with the legacy Morgan Stanley brokerage unit.
In a memo sent to the approximately 90 advisors in the GSE unit this week, his departure with the firm was described as “mutual,” said one broker who was not authorized to speak for the firm. The spokeswoman declined to comment on the circumstances of his departure after 28 years at Morgan Stanley.
Hawkins, who is based in Washington, DC, and held several branch and regional management posts before launching the celebrity unit in November 2014, could not be reached for comment by phone and did not respond to a message sent via social media.
He frequently uses Twitter and other outlets to comment on the careers of athletes and the life lessons they teach, and may have been nodding toward his own situation last week when he tweeted a quote from Martina Navratilova on life after tennis.
“You have to stay in the moment and look to the future,” he wrote.
One advisor who boasts a GSE affiliation speculated that Hawkins may have got into a resources battle with management over the unit’s big-budget marketing expenses. Morgan Stanley is a high-profile presence at training camps, draft events and tournaments, and Hawkins has arranged for former pros like NFL linebacker Bart Scott and NBA forward Antoine Walker to work as consultants, preaching messages about financial prudence to college stars and other prospects.
Earlier this year, Morgan Stanley promoted a financial literacy program for athletes in partnership with another “consultant” to the firm, former New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott
“One of the good things they did is got in front of a lot of teams and into locker rooms,” said Chase Carlson, a plaintiff’s lawyer who has represented pro athletes in arbitration claims against a former Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo broker who sold unauthorized investments to his clients.
Private wealth advisors who “qualified” to participate in the GSE group, which says it services “the unique and sophisticated needs of professional athletes and entertainers,” oversee around $35 billion of assets for the clients, according to a profile of the then-49-year-old Hawkins in the Baltimore Sun last year.
In 2003, Massachusetts and New Hampshire securities regulators cited emails from Hawkins in suing Morgan Stanley for promoting proprietary mutual funds through sales contests, a charge the firm settled for $435,000, according to the New York Post.
Hawkins, who was an associate director of Morgan Stanley’s Northeast region during the alleged illegal promotion, allegedly told brokers to avoid putting anything in writing about the contest, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Hawkins has a single disclosure on his BrokerCheck history, a customer complaint seeking $560,000 for his alleged failure to supervise advisors.
“The majority of the conduct complained about occurred prior to Mr. Hawkins becoming branch manager in September 2000,” Hawkins commented in the BrokerCheck report, which said the complaint was settled in 2001 for $122,500.
“Mr. Hawkins denies the allegations of supervisory failure in their entirety.”
—Jed Horowitz contributed to this story.