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Morning Coffee: Morgan Stanley CEO studying the human psyche, effacing ego. Senior bankers love working from home

Saint Gorman at Morgan Stanley

If the archetypal Goldman Sachs banker was once the long term greedy ultra-hardworking ultra-intelligent lower middle class kid who would snipe competitors if he could, the archetypal Morgan Stanley banker was the white-shoed WASP who would also snipe, while being incredibly charming in the process. This summer will reveal whether the charm or the sniping at Morgan Stanley will win out. 

As Bloomberg points out, James Gorman, the charming ex-McKinsey CEO of Morgan Stanley, is leaving soon. In July, Gorman said he had "up to 10 months" left. By April 2024, he will be gone. 

This makes the intervening months a potentially fraught time at Morgan Stanley, with the potential for cliques to cohere around the three very different men who might be Gorman's replacement. 

There are signs of fretfulness: no one wants to back the wrong candidate and to find themselves disenfranchised when he's overlooked. Bloomberg says that Gorman - who is spending this summer reading about the strength of the human psyche during the siege of Leningrad - is trying his utmost to engineer a gentle succession, in which the successful candidate emerges slowly over time and the unsuccessful ones don't disappear in a huff. 

Colm Kelleher, the current chairman of UBS and former senior Morgan Stanley banker who was once a succession candidate himself at the bank, says Gorman is all about extracting ego from the process. His former boss doesn't like “me, myself or I” types, says Kelleher. Gorman has taken the "super ego out of the equation,” Kelleher adds, while referencing rebellions in 13th century Italy. 

There are signs that he's being successful. Gorman's putative replacements - Andy Saperstein, Ted Pick and Dan Simkowitz - seem to get along and to even enjoy hanging out together, despite their differences (Saperstein likes Disney World, Pick likes the Hamptons). With nine months to go, Gorman may engineer an ego-less succession. Or it could be that in the whitest-shoed investment bank egos are held behind a veneer of politeness, but will still emerge in the end.

Separately, with even fintech firms demanding that people return to the office, there are signs that senior financial services professionals are pushing back. Deloitte reportedly spoke to 700 US financial services executives, of whom two thirds said they would quit if compelled to return to the office five days a week. Men were just as keen on working from home as women. And people who told Deloitte they wanted to change jobs, said they'd do so for more flexibility - not just more money. The pandemic has had a lasting effect.


The paper that claimed there's a 10% to 20% drop in productivity among full-time remote workers was based on the "net speed" of data entry workers in India and is of limited relevance to most other jobs. (WheresyourEd)

Goldman Sachs used to have a way with words, like the time when PR Lucas Van Praag accused Rolling Stone of compiling "hysterical compilation of conspiracy theories … Notable ones missing are Goldman Sachs as the third shooter [in John F. Kennedy's assassination] and faking the first lunar landing." (Business Insider) 

Goldman Sachs partner Irfan Hussain has been appointed as chief information officer of the London Stock Exchange Group. (Financial News) 

Dan Wise, the former head of crude oil trading at BP, who retired last year, will return on an interim basis to support 'strategic growth' from October. (Bloomberg) 

How to handle the fact that you earn more than your boss: view your skills as a blessing, remember that other people might also be very good at their jobs but are just rewarded less generously by the labour market. (WSJ) 

Bars in financial districts are hiring DJS and serving cheap cocktails on Tuesdays because no one's around on a Friday now. “At five, it’s like a nightclub.” (Bloomberg) 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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