Morgan Stanley Rotates Veteran Smith Barney Managers

6 Dec    Investing News

Morgan Stanley is making a top field management change in its hometown New York City market, hiring former Smith Barney Chief Operating Officer John Palazzetti to be complex manager of its three-office Fifth Avenue complex.

Palazzetti, who for the past five years has been president of independent broker-dealer Park Avenue Securities, will replace Gerry Ferrante at the Manhattan branches.

Ferrante will become a “senior advisor,” taking “an active role in our client and Advisor VIP meetings,”  according to a memo that New York Metro regional director Nelson Gaertner sent to his troops on Tuesday.

Ferranti has worked at Morgan Stanley and predecessor firms Smith Barney and Lehman Brothers for more than 34 years.

Palazzetti spent 18 years at those firms before leaving in mid-2011 for an executive post at Fieldpoint Private Securities and, beginning in June 2014, as president of independent broker-dealer Park Avenue Securities. He left Park Avenue, a subsidiary of Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America, early last month, according to his BrokerCheck history.

“In many ways John is returning home, having previously managed a significant portion [of] the 5th Avenue complex,” Gaertner wrote.

The shift comes as Morgan Stanley has modestly renewed its appetite to recruit experienced advisers following budgetary constraints. The policy remains challenging for managers to execute, given the company’s departure from the Protocol for Broker Recruiting in late 2017, according to outside recruiters.

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management head Andy Saperstein acknowledged the challenge earlier this year, saying profits in his unit will grow despite the likelihood of a net decline in the firm’s advisor force over the next few years. Morgan Stanley ended the third quarter with 15,553 brokers, ranking as the biggest “wirehouse” firm.

The change at the Fifth Avenue complex—two branches at 525 Fifth Avenue and one at One Penn Plaza, according to its website—follows the transfer earlier this year of Penn Plaza manager Frank Novello to Florida, and his replacement by former Providence, R.I. manager Bernie Duque.

Morgan Stanley and rivals such as UBS and Merrill Lynch have made a whirlwind of such moves this year as a wave of managers have left. Many have been frustrated with changing job descriptions that include less hiring responsibility and more pressure from parent companies to grow through sales of bank products and managed money products, at the same time they try to facilitate broker demands, according to outside recruiters.

Park Avenue Securities has not yet named a replacement for Palazzetti, said a representative at the firm’s call center. A Guardian Life spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

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