Morgan Stanley considers shutting offices, cutting staff: sources

NEW YORK, Tue Aug 7, 2012 – Morgan Stanley, under fire to boost profit margins in its retail brokerage arm, is considering closing brokerage offices, laying off support staff and requiring some branch managers also to generate revenue as advisers under a cost-cutting drive, three people briefed on internal discussions said.

Morgan Stanley, which controls the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney venture owned jointly with Citigroup, last week reduced the number of regions to 12 from 16, eliminating four manager jobs. Only about eight months earlier the firm had consolidated its regional manager ranks from 19.

Recruiters, citing conversations with advisers and managers at the firm, say additional cost cutting measures are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Among the changes under discussion, they said, is a 10 percent cut in the venture’s 120 branch “complexes”, which are groups of branch offices in a city or region that share compliance and administrative staff.

Morgan Stanley spokeswoman Christine Jockle declined to comment.

Morgan Stanley is eager to slash spending in the brokerage division after all of its nearly 17,000 brokers were transferred last month onto a common technology platform. Redundant offices from Morgan Stanley’s and Smith Barney’s nationwide networks will be closed, and support jobs will be eliminated.