Morgan Stanley's most interesting new managing directors

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Morgan Stanley's most interesting new managing directors

Morgan Stanley named its new managing directors yesterday. Bloomberg was first with the full list, and revealed that there weren't nearly as many people on it as in the past. It's getting harder to make MD, not just at Morgan Stanley but everywhere. 

However, this year's Morgan Stanley MD selection does reveal some trends. And those trends help explain where Morgan Stanley is focused for the future, and what it takes to get one of the increasingly rare MD positions now.

Morgan Stanley is focusing on the cloud

Last year, Goldman Sachs appointed a new co-chief information officer, Marco Argenti, who came from Amazon Web Services (AWS). Deutsche Bank appointed a new chief information officer, Neal Pawar, who pushed the use of the cloud in a previous role at quant hedge fund AQR, and is looking at using 'off-premises cloud systems'. Goldman and Deutsche aren't alone: 2020 is likely to be the year when banks begin shifting an increasing amount of their applications to public cloud services. 

Little surprise, therefore, that Morgan Stanley's new technology MDs include people who will help make that transition. This week's promotions include New York-based chief cloud architect Tony Sanchez, global head of technology business development, cloud strategy specialist Sean Manahan, and co-head of enterprise computing services (including, big data, analytics and cloud), Jeanette Gamble.

In the light of Morgan Stanley's aggressive technology layoffs at the end of last year, the technology MD promotions are particularly telling. As Goldman Sachs' technology VPs explained at last year's Amazon Web Services (AWS) re:Invent event, the transition to cloud means banks need a new kind of technology talent: "As soon as you move to the cloud, the average developer will be responsible for a lot more then they used to be - from networking, to security, to operational support." The new MDs are the new generation.

In tech, Morgan Stanley also promoted Dmitriy Holsten, who's building a market data hub in New York.

Morgan Stanley is making promotions to replace staff who left and lock-in those who remain 

This is not exactly unexpected - promotions are a retention tool in all industries. It's notable, though, that Morgan Stanley promoted Hong Kong-based STIR trader Patrick Bonifant after losing Josh Hooker, its top London STIR trader, to Deutsche Bank in early December. 

It also promoted Court Crane, its London head of electronic trading strats, who rejoined after a brief interlude at hedge fund Bridegwater in 2018. Crane previously spent 15 years at Morgan Stanley as head of electronic trading product and U.S. algorithmic trading. His promotion comes after Morgan Stanley parted company with Rupert Fennelly, the former co-head of Morgan Stanley electronic trading, in July 2019. 

Morgan Stanley's MDs include plenty of lifers, but there are exceptions

At Goldman Sachs, two thirds of the MDs who were promoted in November 2019 had spent their entire careers with the firm. 

Morgan Stanley doesn't break out similar figures, but its new MD class contains plenty of loyal employees, some of whom had big job titles for years before they got promoted. Take, for example, Brian Zakutansky in New York, who's been at Morgan Stanley since 2004 (bar a year at the Treasury) and was head of agency MBS trading and head of structured products trading before finally getting the call. Simply having an important role is no guarantee of making MD early.

Equally, though, the new MD class includes comparatively recent hires from rivals. In New York, Kristin Zekis, head of real money FX sales, was promoted after joining from Citi in 2018. In Hong Kong, head of APAC credit sales Siok-Hong Gan, was promoted after joining from Deutsche in 2017. Both are women: Morgan Stanley notes that women were 25% of Morgan Stanley's MD promotions this year.

Morgan Stanley is not nepotistic

Lastly, Morgan Stanley's new MDs include Ciaran Kelleher, a London-based executive director in equity derivatives trading. Morgan Stanley's former president, Colm Kelleher, retired in March 2019. We understand that the two men are not relations.

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Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

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