For Morgan Stanley brokers, the kind of flattery that Philip Purcell seemed to demand during his tenure isn’t going to work on John Mack. Addressing his retail force on a firmwide conference call Monday morning, Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack told them, “Kissing ass just won’t cut it anymore.” The call was scheduled to discuss a memo distributed by co-president Zoe Cruz last Thursday that detailed the firm’s plans to decrease its brokerage force by 10 percent, or around 1,000 brokers.
A money manager on the call said Mack’s comment must have been a response to the hundreds of emails he got from brokers praising his decision to make the cuts. Many of them probably expressed frustration at the way the old regime was run, the asset manager said. “The ‘ass kissers’ comment must have been in many of those emails he got from brokers describing how one made it from broker to branch mgr [sic], to regional manager, to head of IIG,” she said.
Mack thanked the brokers for their emails and said he read every single one.
That’s quite different than the corporate culture that Mack’s predecessor demanded, according to Vanity Fair magazine. As the drum beat for his ouster grew ever louder, then CEO Philip Purcell sunk into a bunker mentality, Vanity Fair writes in its September issue, and that he even began to fear his senior colleagues, in some cases monitoring their phone calls. Purcell denies the allegations. The article says Purcell surrounded himself with yes men and pushed out those who didn’t agree completely with him. The Vanity Fair story was profiled in today’s New York Post.