Two weeks ago, Morgan Stanley announced it would buy Citibank’s 14 percent stake in Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. Its first order of business? Ditch the Smith Barney moniker. The firm announced today that its wealth management business will now be known as Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.
That said, the Smith Barney name is still floating around. The legal name of the broker/dealer will still be Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. And many advisor sites are still branded as Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, such as this FA and this advisor. These are telling signs that the name change is not going to happen overnight, and I don’t think Smith Barney advisors are going to be jumping for joy over it.
The integration of Morgan Stanley and Smith Barney has been a rough and controversial one since the merger was announced in 2009. And reps still don’t seem to be satisfied. In REP.’s 2011 Broker Report Card, MSSB had the lowest grade among wirehouse firms, with a 5.7 (up from 5 in 2010). In addition, far more financial advisors at MSSB said integration issues were having a negative impact rather than a positive impact on their business, productivity and clients.
I’m guessing Morgan Stanley hopes the new name will help change that, creating a more unified retail advice business, but that remains to be seen.
“Today, we are one integrated business, with one overarching mission: to earn the trust of our clients every day through superior advice and execution,” said Greg Fleming, president of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.