Meet Ted Pick, the hard-charging ‘deal junkie’ who looks poised to succeed James Gorman as CEO of Morgan Stanley

  • Morgan Stanley’s hard-charging trading boss Ted Pick is the frontrunner to succeed CEO James Gorman.
  • The tough-talking dealmaker will have to step out of his comfort zone to be the bank’s public face.
  • Insider spoke to Pick’s clients and ex-colleagues and analysts to learn what makes him tick.

Ted Pick, a Morgan Stanley veteran, is in the running to succeed CEO James Gorman. He certainly appears to be the part.

Despite the fact that Wall Street has become more casual in recent years, he still wears suits and Hermès ties.

“He’s right out of central casting,” said the employee of his former boss. “Say, ‘Give me a Wall Street guy,’ and they will give you Ted Pick.”

He is dressed in a lucky red tie with monkeys chasing tigers on it. Former Blackstone president Tony James told Insider that Pick once wore Gucci loafers on a fly-fishing trip in the Brazilian rainforest.

Most of his former colleagues told Insider that the 54-year-old banker is the front-runner in the CEO race. Pick is credited with helping to transform Morgan Stanley’s key equities and fixed-income businesses. According to his peers, he has spent his entire career at the bank, earning a reputation for “bleeding Morgan Stanley blue” and being the hardest-working employee.

However, it is not a done deal. While Morgan Stanley is currently trading at a premium to its Wall Street peers, its illustrious success is not due to Pick. His company has suffered as the market has slowed, with revenue flat year on year and down 13% from the previous quarter. Meanwhile, the bank’s expanding wealth-management division has boosted profits, accounting for roughly 60% of total profits last quarter. Andy Saperstein, another CEO contender, is in charge of that division, while Dan Simkowitz is in charge of investment management.

His division is also under federal investigation for its block-trading operations. In the 2021 implosion of investment firm Archegos Capital Management, that same unit lost nearly a billion dollars. Morgan Stanley is cooperating with regulators, and Gorman, who has announced his intention to retire in May 2024, has stated that he wants the matter resolved before he leaves.

With his reverence for Morgan Stanley traditions and workaholic reputation, Pick represents the bank’s legacy businesses and perhaps old-school Wall Street itself. And the qualities that make him a successful dealmaker, such as his tenacity and candor, may not translate well as the public face of a major bank.

“I’ve always enjoyed his company, but consider this: he grew up on the Street.” In terms of style, he’s a lot more like John Mack than James Gorman,” an ex-managing director said, referring to Gorman’s sharp-elbowed predecessor.

Another former managing director compared Pick to NFL coach Bill Parcells.

Even those who had mostly positive things to say, none of the nine former colleagues who spoke to Insider would speak on the record.

“It’s the Ted factor,” one of his former bosses explained.

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