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Morgan Stanley's CEO Says Smith Barney Name To Be Scrapped

Tom Burroughes

13 June 2012

Morgan Stanley's brokerage joint venture with Citigroup unit, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, will eventually remove the Smith Barney name, the US bank’s chief executive reportedly said yesterday.

There has been speculation for some time that the Smith Barney name would eventually disappear but this is the first time that Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman has stated the change in brand. The firm will be called Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.

"It will eventually be called Morgan Stanley Wealth Management," Gorman told an investor conference, according to Reuters.

The move comes at a time when a number of wealth management firms have adjusted their brands or reinvigorated them. This publication recently released a major report (to view more, click here) in association with Coutts, the UK private bank, on the topic of the importance of branding and marketing. In Coutts’ case, it has refreshed its brand. At Barclays, the old Barclays Wealth label has been changed so that the investment and wealth management functions now just take the name of Barclays. Some changes occur in the wake of merger and acquisition deals, such as the private bank Bank of Singapore emerging out of a deal.

Morgan Stanley agreed in 2009 to acquire Smith Barney from Citigroup in stages, with a timetable to complete its takeover by 2014. Morgan Stanley owns 51 per cent of the venture and recently announced it had approached Citi about acquiring an additional 14 per cent for an undisclosed sum. 

In the latest stake acquisition, the terms outlined that Citi would exchange 100 per cent of its Smith Barney, Smith Barney Australia and Quilter units for a 49 per cent stake in the venture and an upfront cash payment of $2.7 billion. Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley exchanged 100 per cent of its global wealth management business for a 51 per cent stake in the joint venture.