Brokerdealer.com blog update is courtesy of InvestmentNews’ Mason Braswell.
Morgan Stanley, a leading investment firm specializing in wealth management, investment banking and sales and trading services, just wanted to have little fun at their 2014 branch manager’s meeting. They created a parody to the “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” movie but choose not to show it, for very good reason. Unfortunately for them InvestmentNews obtained a copy of the video and has shared, the news has been catching fire (pun intended) and people aren’t happy.
One senior executive from corporate branding firm, The JLC Group, which counts a number of financial service firms as clients stated, “On the one hand, one could defend the video production as an effort to appeal to a certain employee demographic. On the other hand, whoever enabled the video to be released should have both hands tied behind their backs. Or, MS execs should simply take a cue from the video’s title and fire the manager who was behind this project.”
There’s a grain of truth in every joke, and while a video Morgan Stanley produced last year as entertainment for a branch managers’ meeting was an obvious parody of the “Hunger Game” film series, it provides a unique, behind-the-scenes look at the country’s largest wealth management firm.
The 10-minute video, titled “Margin Games: Manager on Fire,” was ultimately shelved and never shown at the branch managers’ meeting in February 2014. But the video, a copy of which was obtained byInvestmentNews, seems to reflect a cutthroat culture among wirehouse managers and a lack of congeniality between leaders in the field and executives in the home office.
(The video is being presented here in its entirety because it is a parody and individual scenes may not make sense without the full context and plot.)
Starring a number of the firm’s top brass, including Shelley O’Connor, who oversees the firm’s approximately 16,000 advisers, the film has executives in a war room at headquarters, pitting branch managers against each other in a death match resembling the one portrayed in the “Hunger Games” series.
There are moments where managers joke about the coldness of senior leadership: “They’ll have somebody at your desk on Monday,” one manager says to a competitor.
Other scenes feature jokes that hinge on racial stereotypes, including having an Asian woman appear as the expert in martial arts who pulls knitting needles from her hair and throws them at a dart board.
The company won’t talk about the video or say why it decided not to show it. A spokeswoman for the firm would say only that the video was never released.
But according to sources familiar with the video who did not want to be identified, Greg Fleming, the president of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, was involved in the decision. Sources cited different possible reasons for pulling the video, including concerns of human resources personnel about some of the jokes or scenes of violence in the workplace.
Some current and former Morgan Stanley executives who asked not to be identified said the fact that a video was even made that joked about people who were losing their jobs shows the detachment of executives from other employees. In fact, two months after the managers’ meeting,the firm began a reorganization. The firm cut the number of regions to eight from 12 and reduced the divisions from three to two. One of the divisional directors who was featured in the video, for example, left the firm after his position was eliminated. Four regional managers were moved to different roles.
For the complete article and to view the original video, click here.