Here are all of the comments RR heard from Morgan Stanley Dean Witter brokers.
"Our equity research is the best, best in the field. Our level of ethics and integrity is also very high. Our operation/back office is certainly not the best. It needs work."
"Appreciate full-service online."
"Research is good and advertising. Need better support in the way of sales assistants, etc."
"Firm has clear sense of where to take firm 10 years and beyond. Trains brokers to be productive with clear vision of how we will be able to thrive, add value in the future. The operation assistance is suspect as is quality of research, but that is a universal complaint."
"Market [ourselves] well, [Good] name recognition. Analysts are good, well respected. No negatives."
"Good M&A, aggressive growth. [But] don’t know how they hire brokers."
"[The firm] does things you expect very well. I don’t like the recent Internet push. I can do without the ‘do-without-your-broker’ packets they’ve sent clients. [Branch manager] is a fanatic. He smiled at a sales assistant and said ‘Good morning.’ She said ‘good morning’ back and he berated her for 20 minutes because she didn’t smile at him when she said ‘good morning’ back. Guy is a nervous breakdown waiting to happen. He’s facing a mutiny here."
"Research is good. Nothing bad."
"They do very little poorly, they’re hell-bent on being exceptional. Sales assistants’ compensation is poor."
"I think we do most things well. One of the premiere firms on the Street. Research is as good as it gets."
"The best thing here is the freedom--the freedom to develop my business the way I want to. The focus I want on products and sales approach. I have total freedom, whatever fits my personality. If that means pursuing certain products or seminars, or cold calling, I have free rein."
"Everyone who was here at Dean Witter before the merger feels much better. There’s a lot more to this company than there used to be. The research is better. The products and services are better. The public image is higher. The internal morale is higher. Morgan Stanley is just a terrific firm to work for. There’s a synergy. Just look at stock price. It’s doubled twice since it went public."
"Love it here. I have the freedom to sell anything I want, and the quality of research is great. It’s a world apart since Morgan Stanley came on board."
"There’s a great work ethic here. They don’t pressure us on what to sell. The client comes first, that’s the message from senior management. I’ve met our CEO Phil Purcell, and I have confidence in him and in John Mack, the president and COO. Access to senior management is excellent."
"Their best quality is their research and the timeliness of it. It’s unbiased and they don’t pull any punches with it. However, we need more sales assistants. I don’t like having to pay the salary for the one we use."
"CEO Phil Purcell is a genius. He knows where the industry is going and he’s got great focus. That’s why our firm gets A+ ratings. The merger with Dean Witter in 1997 helped a lot. We went from good to world-class with Dean Witter’s institutional power. I like the new ad campaign ‘Getting Connected.’ We’re tops in fixed income and munis."
"The industry is changing dramatically and our firm has adjusted to these changes. However, there’s still some residue from the 1970s and 1980s--rookies are still encouraged to dial for dollars and they push cold calling to the new people. The problem is they’re hiring kids right out of college who haven’t established any business contacts. It would be better if they hired more people who have established a network for success."
"The firm gives us a much broader range of clients, access to a higher level of money management. In the past, a client needed a $5 million minimum to access that level of money management. Now, they’ve brought the minimum down to $100,000."
"I plan on retiring here. I have no personal problems. I anticipate a long and healthy career. Headhunters have called, but I won’t talk to them."
"I think it’s a fantastic firm. I’ve become a millionaire working there in the last few years. It’s a very dedicated firm to its clientele. Brokers are secondary to clients, and that’s the way it should be. Clients come first. Management is visionary. They’re going in the right direction."
[Benefits] "That’s a sore spot. I think we should get stock options."
[Branch manager] "Of all the managers, he’s the best one I ever had. He cares about clients first."
[Hiring/recruiting] "They’re wasting their money."
[Quantity/quantity SAs] "I would give that a 2 [out of a 10]. We don’t have enough.
"You can tell [by the responses--mostly 10’s] that I love my firm."
"Our name has tremendous clout and name recognition. People will talk to you when you call. They create a very professional environment for us."
[Strategic Focus] "The philosophy of providing everything a client needs, ‘one investor at a time,’ is one of the firm’s strength."
[Operations] "Sometimes the back office gets a little weak, mistakes are made, and I find that they’re not getting information back to us in a timely manner."
[Sales ideas] "There’s actually almost too many ideas but not many are specific enough."
"Between our e-mail capability and our research capabilities, the constant information we receive and filter out to clients is the best on the Street. The only downside is that the firm’s growing too fast and the support system is just catching up with the growth. It’s not terrible, but these are problems associated with growing pains."
[Research] "It’s great."
[Quote/info] "Our technology is phenomenal."
"We’re pretty high on the scale as far as technology available to us. We have a lot of analysts who make the star list every year. That’s one of the reasons our research is so strong."
[Focus] "I like the direction the company is taking, getting away from a commission base to more of a fee-based business."
[Quantity] "The quality’s good, we just need more."
"The numbers tell it all. This is the best firm on the Street. They are superior in every category and the stock has shown it. I’ve been here a long time. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe they were the best place for brokers and clients."
"We work for the best. We’re world-renowned and with our investment bankers and outstanding research, it doesn’t get much better. I don’t think you’ll see too many people leaving here for the competition."
[Hiring/recruiting] "They are certainly hiring a lot. I’m not sure if what they’re getting, in terms of quality, is really as good as it could be. Maybe I set my standards too high."
[Training] "It’s ongoing. You can take advantage of any number of training programs."
"Lots of freedom, no one looking over your shoulder. We have the ability to get any and all information we need from the research department. There’s a lot of enthusiasm among all the employees here, not just the brokers. The stock prices are doing well so no one’s complaining anyway."
[Operations] "This could use a little improvement. Sometimes it comes down to the individual person in the department. Most of the time they’re pretty good, occasionally you run into someone who is less qualified, and then you have problems."
"The reputation of the company to the public is very strong. Our research is also very strong. This is a growth company that has been great for the stock price."
[Payout] "You always want more, but you have to be realistic."
[Training] "Not as much as I’d like to see."
"We have good, upper management people. I’d like to see better support, knowledgeable assistants and more of them."
[Strategic focus] "The overall corporate vision is good, they see where the trend is heading and then they try to help us meet the future."
[Quality/quantity SAs] "Lousy, but that’s reflective of a strong market and the difficulty that exists in finding the right, qualified person to come to work for very low pay."
"The firm is incredibly focused and financially very strong. Our only weakness is on the sales assistant support side particularly at branch level."
[Quality/quantity SAs] "It’s a black eye for us. Low pay and high turnover is not a good combination."
"Compared to our peer group we have a lot more going for us. We have the resources we need to run our business well, great research, great products and a great mixture. This bodes very well for whatever we want to offer our clients."
[Quality/quantity SAs] "Everyone could use more sales assistant support. I do see improved quality so there’s hope."
[Training] "There are many accelerated training programs, such as estate planning or 401(k)s, if we want to participate."
"Thirty-four years in the business. This is a prestige firm recognized throughout the world. The Morgan Stanley name will get you into certain doors."
"I’m happy as a lark. If I weren’t married I’d work a 24 hours a day. It’s the greatest job in the world. I’m part of a three-person team."
[Strategic focus] " I’m an old marketing man, and I don’t think they know what they’re doing. I have a fee-based business, so some of these questions don’t apply."
"What the firm is doing well? Technology, investment banking, everything."
"The payout is not good compared to competitors. We have the best information, the best strategies. It’s absurd that a discount broker with no service gets paid better than we do. The public has to get away from the idea that they can get something for nothing. People want discounts and wirehouse firms to cut costs by cutting money to brokers. There needs to be a change in strategy. In this business you get a lot of professionals handling a lot of money, and you hear on CNBC about bonuses brokers make. America has more blue-collar millionaires today, but they have to pay for what they get. You could go to a car dealer 15 years ago and negotiate a price; now you can’t do that. We live 45 minutes from the casinos in Biloxi. We have to change the image that the market is not a gamble. I teach classes to educate people. Somebody has got to turn this business around!"
"What the firm is doing well? Underwriting business, IPO and secondary offerings."
"Mary Meeker getting $15 million last year is a crock--no one is worth that kind of money except maybe Phil Purcell. We have outstanding management here; I’d hate to see what our stock would do if Purcell retired. He’s a real visionary and leader, which is what any company needs. We are running, not walking, toward the Internet. Still, our online services are disappointing. I thought we were ready last October, but I’ve heard lots of complaints from clients about their statements online [etc.]. I haven’t heard many good reports."
"We’re well-positioned on the Street; we stay out of trouble. Need more operations support at the branch level; they’re making us wear lots of hats."
"MSDW is one of the best firms on the Street. After 27 years here I’ve seen other firms come and go, and we are definitely a player."
" I consider us the No. 1 name on the Street [been here 15 years, entire career as a broker], we’re perceived as head and shoulders above the rest in retail."