Morgan Stanley Trims “Private Wealth” Presence in Atlanta
Morgan Stanley said Tuesday that it remains committed to “upper high net worth clients” with $20 million or more of investable assets, but it is not replacing a senior executive in the group that services them and is relocating an office he oversaw.
Eric Busko, who joined the firm’s private wealth management division in 2007 as manager of its Southeast region, left in December and is not being replaced, a Morgan Stanley spokeswoman confirmed. The company also is moving its “flagship” private wealth office in the Atlanta area due to the expiration of a lease, she wrote in an email.
Busko’s responsibilities for southeastern private wealth advisors will be assumed by Michael Outlaw, manager of Morgan Stanley’s Atlanta-Buckhead general brokerage complex, she said. The complex includes two Atlanta offices and a Chattanooga branch, and the private wealth advisers will be moved to a new floor in one of the branches.
Busko could not be reached for comment.
Giving Outlaw dual responsibility for the upper-crust advisors in addition to those who service a less wealthy crowd is not unprecedented and should not be viewed as a cost-cutting “consolidation,” she said. Private wealth management head Vince Lumia has similarly given responsibility for overseeing his advisors in Boston to wealth management complex manager Jeff Swartz.
Morgan Stanley Chief Executive James Gorman has long said that the company earns higher profit margins from its wealthiest clients, but he also has been engaged in a multi-year firmwide cost-cutting effort dubbed Project Streamline.
The company two weeks ago eliminated two of its eight wealth management sales regions, but said the restructuring was not driven by economizing. As a result of the change, the manager of its now-defunct Northwest region was moved to head the Southeast region.
The private wealth management unit includes more than 350 brokers working from eight “dedicated” branches as well as from general wealth offices, according to a company website. The spokeswoman would not say how many private wealth advisors are based in the Southeast.
“We are not consolidating,” she wrote regarding the changes in Atlanta. “We are opportunistically looking to create additional flagship PWM offices and are committed to the UHNW client segment and the FAs who cater to these clients.”