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Morgan Stanley 2001 Complete Broker Comments1

A (Hiring/recruiting) “It’s about average for the street. I don’t really get into that.” (Training) “There’s quite a bit of room for improvement.” (Overall) “The strength of this firm is in [its] overall image and reputation. What doesn’t work as well is their training program.” B “What [the firms does] best is serve the clients. What they don’t do well is on the operations side. That needs more attention.


(Hiring/recruiting) “It’s about average for the street. I don’t really get into that.” (Training) “There’s quite a bit of room for improvement.” (Overall) “The strength of this firm is in [its] overall image and reputation. What doesn’t work as well is their training program.”


“What [the firms does] best is serve the clients. What they don’t do well is on the operations side. That needs more attention. I don’t know why that is so, whether it’s a lack of quality, lack of sufficient people to do the job or the training or lack of training they receive. I know it’s a matter of execution, they just can’t seem to get the job done.”


(Sales quotas) “I don’t think that the quotas are realistic into day’s market environment.” (Focus) “They’re very progressive and in tune with what’s happening in the industry. They’re moving more into fee-based business. From my point of view, if it’s working for the clients, then it’s working for me.” (Overall) “This is a very real and honest firm from the top to the bottom. They put their energies into trying to really determine what the public wants and then giving it to them. What I’d like to see is higher payouts, more realistic sales quotas, and giving FAs a little more recognition for the part we play in this business.”


(Research) “Research is down, but I think you’re going to find that’s the case at most firms now.” (Image) “I think we still need to work on it.” (Overall) “I like the ongoing support this firm gives its FAs, and I’m satisfied with the direction this firm is taking, which is to establish a more global presence.”


(Research) “Considering this has been a lousy market, it’s been pretty good. In a lousy market, you can have the greatest research in the world and you’re still going to look bad. Ad in a great market, you can have lousy research and you’ll look great. With this kind of market, everyone’s tendency is to think the broker and the analyst are morons.” (Overall) “Their advertising and promotion programs are very good as is technology and research. My main gripe is that we follow Merrill Lynch too much. I’d like this firm to have the confidence to think for themselves. I think some of the moves Merrill has made lately have been ludicrous.”


(Hiring/recruiting) “We’re hiring, but the quality is just mediocre.” (Sales assistants) “Both quality and quantity is poor.” (Overall) “The firm provides a good brand name. They have a great research department and great operations. This is without a doubt the best name on the street. However, they have poor recruiting practices and poor recruiting results.”


(Sales assistants) “They are so badly underpaid it’s a wonder we get any quality people at all.” (Overall) “They don’t pressure me to do anything. The product development has been fantastic. During a rough market they brought out three different issues that have proven to be good investments for the clients and very salable in a rough market. I have no real complaints.”


(Sales quotas) “Better than others in this industry.” (Hiring/recruiting) “It’s been pretty good. The firm likes to hire young people.” (Sales support) “Too bad for the firm that you’re asking me this question this week. I had three check requests put in 10 days ago and it still has not been processed. Somebody forgot about them. Doesn’t speak too highly of overall support.” (Sales assistant) “I happened to have one of the best around here.” (Quantity) “Very poor, we have one SA for seven brokers.” (Sales ideas) “I don’t use them, I use my own.” (Training) “What they do offer is worthless.” (Research) “It stinks right now. I suspect that research is in the pocket of institutions so it’s difficult to know who to trust.” (Products offered) “We have the biggest selection that I’ve ever seen. My production is up this year because of the products offered.” (Focus) “Last year’s focus was to get everyone online. This year it’s fee-based accounts, which I’m not doing. I think they are a disservice to the client. They get ripped. The firm is beating us to death with this and it’s not good for either the broker or the client.” (Ethics) “They are trying to maintain an ethical stand.” (Image) “It’s gone down recently.” (Overall) “I like fixed income, access to institutional bond positions, but I get the impression that the firm feels like it’s their money not the clients.”


(Hiring/recruiting) “Whatever they’re doing is not working. The turnover’s high. I think it’s more about quantity right now than anything else.” (Overall) “I like the support, the products and the research. I don’t like the payout, the lack of good training for both brokers and sales assistants, and I think our technology could be stronger.”


(Quote/info) “I sometimes feel slighted as a broker because they’re charging us for information that clients can get free on the client Internet access.” (Overall) “The global branding is excellent. They have an excellent heritage, which ranks up there with JP Morgan and Merrill Lynch. There’s too much of a focus on institutional interests to the detriment of the client sometimes.”


(Ethics) “Very high.” (Image) “I do get a fair amount of very positive feedback.” (Overall) “The industry is so crazy. It’s the nature of the beast. Compliance is very, very business restrictive. If you’re sending a note to clients, you have to get compliance approval, which takes weeks. It’s nothing specific to our firm. It’s industry-wide. In this country, it results in lost business. It’s very anti-business, what’s happening.”


(Quality of sales assistants) “It has dramatically improved.” (Overall) “If you’re going to work for a wire house, it might as well be here. This is a good branch. The branch manager might have something to do with that. I worked for Pru for a while. Morgan Stanley seems head and shoulders above the rest. I’ve talked to people at Merrill. This seems like a good environment.”


(Image) “I would give it a ‘5’ right now. The perception by institutional and retail investors of our equity research is at a low point. It’s a result of us having too much exposure to technology. The impression of our research department is low. It’s somewhat hurt our credibility as a firm. We’re working to combat that in the sales force. The reality isn’t as bad as the perception, but that’s the perception right now.”


“One thing a lot of us have been talking about is that there are so many changes with regions, management. I feel like we’re becoming Merrill Lynch--because of the bureaucracy and stuffing products down our throat. This has been going on for the last 12 months. Even managers hate it. Here’s a great example. We were region three, and there were seven regions in the country. Then they decided to go to 12 regions, and we’re region five. Now, they’re back to nine regions, and we’re region four. I just heard today they’re fixing to change regions again. We have different people coming in [wholesalers]. We’re always asking, ‘Who’s in charge of this department now?’ The field doesn’t have a sense of direction. Now they seem to be focused on this product of the month or that product. The other thing that’s happened is people in charge of product areas like managed money are being laid them off and they’re not replacing them. They’ve been making some bad decisions. The field doesn’t like it at all. They should be supporting us. It’s becoming Mother Merrill.”


“I think working for a big wire house is a huge advantage—when you’re a rookie. If you say you’re from Joe’s Brokerage House—no name, no account. Later on in your career, it would be nicer to take more than 30% home. I wish they paid more.”


“This firm needs to let brokers know what’s going on. They tell us to hold our clients hands, but there’s not enough information coming to us from top management.”


“I don’t have any pressure from the firm to meet goals. I set them myself. We hire a lot of people going through the revolving door, but I guess that’s just the nature of the business. For the amount of money the firm pays, you’re never going to get good sales assistants. I basically matched the firm’s contribution and doubled my gal’s salary. We have enough of them around here, we just don’t pay them enough to keep them. We get a new branch manager here every two years. The one we just had was a 10. The one we have now…it’s too early to tell. The firm is ahead of the curve in technology [provided to brokers]. I also believe the firm is ahead of others in terms of training. I don’t know if our relationship with Wharton is unique in the industry, but it is definitely beneficial for seasoned brokers.”


“We have enough sales assistants, we just don’t have enough good ones. Fixed-income pricing is a touchy subject. Morgan Stanley is a recognized name and a leader in every category.”


(Pressure to sell products) “It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. People told me the firm would be pushing Dean Witter funds, but I haven’t seen any of that. My manager asks me to look at certain products, but there isn’t pressure. I don’t have sales quotas, per se, and the hurdles aren’t that difficult. I’ve seen some recruiting debacles that shouldn’t have happened. Payout better than Merrill (his former firm), but not much better. Benefits are excellent. The SAs have to jump through hoops to get anything done here, papers have to be signed by 10 different people. Makes it almost impossible for them to do their jobs. (Research) “Any time you have an investment banking arm, you’re going to have potential conflicts. Some analysts are better than others.” (Branch manager) “I’m in a small satellite office. My branch manager doesn’t do much managing. He leaves me alone - which is fine with me.” (Strategy) “MS is late to the game in many respects, but making positive changes in pricing, products and its planning focus. Now that we’re Morgan Stanley instead of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, our image is good. We lack a good 401(k) product, but other than that I think the firm’s direction is a good one. The firm is stressing fee-based accounts, managed money and all-inclusive services and compensating us higher on those products. Merrill Lynch was doing this stuff years ago, but MS is finally catching on.”


“We're floundering to try to make something good out of this market. We're being held hostage by this market. We have research problems, but they're not unique to us. Everybody's research stinks these days. The analysts here are particularly poor. How can they evaluate an industry if they don't know what that industry is all about? Another problem with the research is the conflict of interest. I think the firm should spin off the analysts and the research area into their own independent firm so there's no longer any conflict of interest--that is, trying to develop big banking relationships with the companies they do research on.”


“I'm having problems learning the quote and information system. It's not user-friendly. I'm spending time trying to learn this new technology, time that I don't have, trying to memorize how the thing works. However, on the plus side, they've become much better in allowing us more freedom to sell what we want to sell. And they have a higher payout than Merrill Lynch.”


“CEO Phil Purcell is doing a great job, focusing on the right things, including long-term rewards for good employees, and building shareholder value. In the last four years, the firm's earnings per share have gone up from $2.08 in 1997, to $2.78 in '98, $4.10 in '99, $4.73 in 2000, and this year will probably be around $3.75, although Standard and Poor's expects our earnings to bounce back to $4.73 next year. And our book value has gone up 60% over the past four years. Plus, their 401(k) program is terrific.”


“I'm in my third year, and this has been the toughest one. But I think it's made me a better broker because of it. The problem is, our firm has services targeted to people with $20 million or more. I need something at my level in terms of support. I don't know how to network for these higher net-worth people, and the firm is no help.”


“The firm spends too much time in just trying to fill X number of broker positions, rather than trying to focus more on quality in their hiring. As a result, the place is a revolving door. They spend too much time on filling quotas and not enough time on quality candidates. And I'm not comfortable in using their research because they have relationships with a lot of the companies they analyze. The SEC needs to address that conflict of interest. For example, with one stock I know of, our research department was indicating a strong buy on it right up until the day the company went bankrupt. It's ridiculous.”


“The firm is on the right track in offering more high-quality service to clients, including what they call total balance sheet management. Also, they're offering a 50% payout for any fee-based account in the first year. Plus, clients that sign up for fee business receive a free financial outlook booklet (valued at $250), so they're trying to promote this fee-based business with these kinds of incentives.”


“The advertising focus is poor. They've got that pie chart type logo that looks weird. But they've been able to keep getting larger while other companies are shrinking the size of their broker force. The firm hasn't been cutting a lot of heads, and I like that.”


(Laughed when answering question about the firm's research) “The analysts on the street certainly showed lack of foresight. Ours were no worse than others. It's a rough time. We're the best firm on the street; we provide most opportunity for brokers. Our CEO has a wonderful foresight; he will position us for success.”


(Payout) “Ours is good compared to other major firms, less than the minor firms.” (Image) “I'd say not so good since we're stockbrokers in a down market right now, but it has to be better than Schwab and the firms, which offer very little in terms of advice.”


“I think Morgan Stanley is one of the premier brokerage houses in the world. It's a great company, has a lot of broker support, very sensitive to retail, and research is better than ever.”


“We have four teams in a 30-person office. New York is very responsive to our questions and it's getting better and better all the time. Morgan Stanley is the top firm in research. The firm is going to require everybody to be a CFP in five years. We just went through an audit and passed with flying colors. Definitely feel the firm is headed in the right direction and Phil Purcell is the best CEO in the business.”


“Why so good? Our manager is--bar none--the best I’ve ever worked with. He’s the reason this is such a great place to work. That’s the kind of impact a branch manager can have on you and your business. He focuses on helping everyone in the branch, and knowing that the small to mid-level people need assistance too. He’s just a very strong, supportive manager. I’ve been through a half dozen managers and none of them have ever taken the time to motivate me in a very positive way until him. Our old manager would say, ‘Well if you weren’t so lazy, you’d pick up the phone and you do better.’ With our new manager, when I went to ask about a seminar, he said, ‘It’s kind of expensive if you do seminars at a full-blown scale, as they should be done. Instead, he pointed to the phone and said, ‘I made a million dollars a year off the telephone.’ He has a way of motivating you in a position way instead of a derogatory fashion.”


“I’m happy here but it’s not a perfect environment. I’m being honest. One thing the firm can improve on is the hiring process. They hire by numbers, not quality. They just hire to hire. That’s wrong. You have to bring in strong, dedicated, knowledgeable people. People who are trained. People who know what they’re doing. I do like our fee-based campaign. That’s something smart this firm has done. It’s beneficial because this is the way the industry is going.”


“SAs are a problem. They’re not trained. They come in and are clueless. It’s not their fault. It’s the firm’s. It makes our jobs that much more difficult. They need to bring in SAs who are more qualified, who must be registered with 7 and 66 licenses. You can’t just bring in people who can stick stamps on an envelope.”


Did not want to expound beyond grades other than to say, “The magazine is great.”


“Working here is everything I expected when I joined it 12 years ago. It’s a real conservative form that fits my personality. Another thing I like about the firm is Phil Purcell. Of all the CEOs of the major houses, he’s the sharpest. To me, he’s accomplished more.”


(Realistic sales quotas) “It's changing; everybody is getting pressure to do more." (Hiring) "I think it's pretty much a revolving door, but the environment [the market] has a lot to do with that right now." (Payout) "Getting worse; the percentages are going down. They're always looking for ways to cut us back." (Quality & quantity of SA) "The level of pay is terrible; you get what you pay for. If we could get enough help [from SAs], it could increase our production by 30%." (Training) "Very high, if you're willing to take the initiative and do it."


(Payout) "It's fair." (Benefits) "Excellent." (Sales support) "Get all the tools you need, just a matter of you doing it." (Sales ideas) "Really good, give us a lot of good ideas." (Training) "Spend a lot of money on training."


(Hiring) "Don't know quite why [some reps are hired].” (Sales ideas) "Just think a lot of things are segmented. No one to put together a comprehensive proposal. They have a great financial planning product, but then they also have another one for managed money, another one for insurance.” (Research) “Despite a bad year for the market, a 9."


(Hiring) "Turnover in our particular office [is high.]" (Payout) "Industry-wide, I'm told we're low." (Sales support) "Real good.” (Quality of sales ideas) "Keeping good ideas in front of us." (Quote/info system) "It's "irritating." (Quality of products) "Pleased with what we have available."

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