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Abigail with attitude: Rise of Greg Fleming and Morgan Stanley’s FICC problem

I hear that an article published recently by Reuters is causing waves at Morgan Stanley. The thrust of the piece – entitled ‘Wall Street’s most eligible banker Fleming waits for a suitor’ – is that 50-year-old Greg Fleming, the head of Morgan Stanley’s wealth and investment management business, might succeed James Gorman as chief executive. According to the piece, Fleming is also a flight risk as he possesses the talents to be chief executive of another financial firm.

Apparently, some in Morgan Stanley’s investment banking unit take exception to the implication that Fleming is influencing decisions in the securities area as well as his own private banking world. Fleming has undoubtedly done a good job at building Morgan Stanley’s wealth management franchise and improving its pre-tax profit margin. However, investors might become nervous if articles are now appearing in the mainstream press hinting that gregarious Greg might bolt for a bigger role elsewhere.

I’ve known Fleming for the best part of a decade; he’s a very smart banker. I will never forget meeting him in Washington in 2008, at the height of the financial crisis. Merrill Lynch was on its knees and had just been sold to Bank of America.

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