- A shareholder and long-term employee of Morgan Stanley praised the bank’s CEO James Gorman at its annual meeting last week, comparing him to Cleveland Cavaliers’ superstar LeBron James.
- Shares of Morgan Stanley have soared 23% in the last 12 months, significantly outperforming shares in close rival Goldman Sachs which have risen 6% during the same period.
Morgan Stanley shareholders have a lot to be happy about right now. Once shunned by Wall Street, the bank has radically changed over the last few years by investing heavily in its steady wealth management business and shedding risky proprietary trading activities to become the darling of the sector. The bank’s market value now exceeds that of closest rival Goldman Sachs and has seen its share price soar 23% in the last 12 months, far surpassing Goldman’s 6% rise during that same period.
The man responsible for Morgan Stanley’s turnaround? CEO James Gorman, a former McKinsey consultant who took on the job eight years ago and is now drawing some larger than life comparisons from shareholders for his performance leading the bank’s transformation.
During the bank’s annual meeting last week in Purchase, New York, Louis Bowman, a former financial adviser at the firm from Richmond, Virginia who said he worked for the bank for 25 years, stood up in front of Morgan Stanley’s executive team and board to compare Gorman to Cleveland Cavaliers’ superstar LeBron James.
“We all know that LeBron James is probably the most accomplished professional basketball player in recent times. He is certainly a superstar,” Bowman said. “Now, several months ago after another good Morgan Stanley earnings release, one of the commentators on CNBC said that you were the LeBron James of Wall Street. Now I’m sure that if I heard it on CNBC it has got to be true. And I just wanted you to know that as a shareholder I’m so glad to be on your team.”
Gorman, in turn, thanked Bowman for his words and said the comparison wasn’t totally fair.
“As it relates to LeBron James, he and I share one thing in common and that is the name James. But athletically, that might be the extent of it,” he said.
Morgan Stanley during the first quarter reported a record quarterly profit, including a surprising lift from its bond trading business.