Ellyn McColgan, once seen as a possible successor to Ned Johnson as CEO at Fidelity Investments, has been picked to take the helm of Morgan Stanley’s Global Wealth Management Group. That spot was left vacant recently when James Gorman was appointed co-president of the firm.
A 17-year veteran of Fidelity Investments, McColgan, 53, surprised the industry in August by abruptly leaving five months after being appointed president of Distribution and Operations by Johnson. Before she left she was believed to be a strong contender to succeed Johnson as CEO of Fidelity. However, after only a few months in her new position, Johnson hired Roger Lawson to be Fidelity’s president, putting him between McColgan and the CEO seat. (Read more on McColgan’s departure from Fidelity).
In her new role at Morgan Stanley, she will take over day-to-day operations of the Global Wealth Management Group from current head James Gorman, who has been promoted to co-president of Morgan Stanley along with Walid Chammah, the former global head of investment banking and currently the CEO of Morgan Stanley International. “She is the ideal executive to carry forward the progress that James Gorman and his team have made in transforming our Global Wealth Management business into an industry leader,” said Morgan Stanley CEO, John Mack, in a statement. Further, Mack called her experience “unmatched in our industry.” She will officially join the company in April. (Read Morgan Stanley’s official press release).
Before she became president of Distribution and Operations at Fidelity, McColgan was president of Fidelity Brokerage Company for four years. That job included oversight of three divisions: Fidelity Registered Investment Advisor Group (the RIA platform, now called Institutional Wealth Services), National Financial (the correspondent-clearing business) and Fidelity Personal Investments (retail brokerage).
While all three divisions have seen considerable success in recent years, it is the RIA platform on which McColgan is credited as having the most impact. Fidelity’s RIA business is a distant second in assets to Charles Schwab’s RIA platform, Schwab Institutional, but McColgan had stated publicly that she wanted to topple the king of asset gatherers back in 2005. She started by ousting long-time FRIAG leader Jay Lanigan. He had nearly doubled the assets of the unit during his tenure there, but apparently not fast enough. Since 2005, the number of RIA firms using Fidelity’s platform has grown to more than 3,500 with $333 billion in assets, from 2,500 with $125 billion in assets.
As for whether her hiring for the position signals any interest on the part of Morgan Stanley in building an RIA-like platform, Morgan Stanley spokesman Jim Wiggins says, “It’s way too early to conjecture about any change in strategy. It’s a great strategy the way it’s working now. She’ll be looking to build on the success of the business under Gorman. She was absolutely James Gorman’s first choice to take over the position.”