Morgan Stanley Ushers Out One of Its Six Regional Heads
In an abrupt restructuring of its sales management structure, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management told employees on Wednesday that Southeast regional director Michael Struckman has left the firm and been replaced by Northeast regional director Ralph Balzano.
A company spokeswoman confirmed the change but would not comment on the reasons for it.
Struckman, whose departure was effective immediately, had been with Morgan Stanley since 2000, and also had worked at its predecessor firm Dean Witter Reynolds. He was a go-to manager at the wirehouse, which 16 months ago transferred him from running its Northwest region to the Southeast when a managerial hole opened there.
“Please join me in thanking Michael for his years of service to Morgan Stanley and in wishing him well in his future endeavors,” Vince Lumia, head of Morgan Stanley’s “field” of almost 16,000 brokers, wrote in a memo on Wednesday to wealth management “employees and partners.”
Struckman did not respond to several messages left on his cellphone.
His departure underscores the precariousness of management posts at large brokerage firms. Morgan Stanley slimmed its number of sales regions in January 2017 from eight to six, eliminating several senior positions. Merrill Lynch similarly restructured its geography and sales leadership in March 2017, shortly after Andy Sieg became head of its retail brokerage operation.
In deploying Balzano to replace Struckman, Morgan Stanley is relying on another veteran utility infielder. A 30-year brokerage veteran, the manager joined Morgan Stanley from Merrill Lynch in 2006, and has managed in New York City, Soundview, N.J., and Stamford, Connecticut.
Balzano is the third leader of the Southeast region to be named in the past two years.
Nelson Gaertner, the complex manager of Morgan Stanley’s 399 Park Ave. office, has replaced Balzano as Northeast Region director, according to Lumia’s memo. A replacement for Gaertner will be named “in due course,” the memo said. Gaertner, who has 31 years of experience, has been at Morgan Stanley and its Smith Barney predecessor for 25 years.
Struckman began his career as a registered representative in 1991 at Dean Witter, and also did a stint at First Union Brokerage Services before joining Morgan Stanley in October 2000, according to BrokerCheck.
Morgan Stanley’s Northwest region recently came under scrutiny after the New York Times questioned its handling of a top broker, Douglas Greenberg. The adviser remained employed despite charges of harassment and abuse by multiple women outside the firm from 2006 to 2016 and a 2014 arrest, according to the paper’s expose.