Morgan Stanley building in New York (Photo: AP)

Several months after moving to trim its wealth management structure to save costs, Morgan Stanley is at it again.

Wealth leaders Shelley O’Connor and Andy Saperstein shared the news with the firm’s 15,777 advisors in a memo on Friday, announcing that they were “eliminating the divisional level and naming a new head of the field with the goal of flattening the organization and further empowering the regional directors and local managers.”

Bill McMahon and Rick Skae, heads of the Western and Eastern divisions respectively, are set to become vice chairmen of wealth management; they will report directly to O’Connor and Saperstein, “will continue to have a strong presence in the field and will play critical senior leadership roles moving forward,” according to the memo.

Rival Merrill Lynch said it was reducing its business structure from 10 divisions to six in mid-April. It includes 14,500 advisors and is led by Andy Sieg.

Vince Lumia, who has been leading Morgan Stanley’s Private Wealth Management operations, will become head of the field or advisor force. The group’s six regional directors, which were reduced from eight earlier this year, will report directly to him.

Mandell Crawley will take over Lumia’s role in Private Wealth. “We are excited to have Mandell rejoin Wealth Management after having most recently served as the chief marketing officer for Morgan Stanley,” O’Connor and Saperstein said.

Jim McCarthy, head of National Sales, and Liz Dennis, head of Strategic Client Management, will report directly to Lumia. Colbert Narcisse, head of International Wealth Management, will report to Lumia, O’Connor and Saperstein.  

“We are thrilled to have Rick, Bill, Vince, and Mandell in positions that will help to continue to move the Wealth Management business forward,” the two wealth chiefs explained.

The news comes just a week ahead of the Department of Labor’s fiduciary deadline and several days after the firm said it had consolidated its operations in Dallas. Fifteen branches with 240 advisors are now based in a new complex, according to the firm.

Recent Results

In the first quarter, Morgan Stanley reported strong results. Its first-quarter net income jumped 70% year over year, to $1.93 billion, and revenue increased 25% to $9.75 billion.

Meanwhile, the wealth unit had an even bigger jump in net income, which rose 31%. The unit’s pretax margin, 24%, was the highest since the firm acquired Smith Barney, according to CFO Jonathan Pruzan.

Plus, total client assets hit $2.2 trillion, and fee-based assets grew 6% to $927 billion, including net asset flows of $19 billion.

The latest figure for advisors, 15,777, is up 14 advisors from the fourth quarter but down 111 (or 1%) from a year ago.

When it comes to average yearly fees and commissions per FA, Morgan Stanley tops Merrill Lynch by a hair at $1.029 million vs. the Thundering Herd’s $999,000. (Merrill says that its level for veteran advisors is around $1.3 million.)

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