Morgan Stanley to Employees: Watch Videos Now!
Friday, July 15, is “V” day at Morgan Stanley, and woe to the employee who doesn’t log in to show loyalty to the cause of volunteering.
“As we enter the final week of , your involvement is crucial toward achieving our goal of 100% participation,” Private Wealth Management head Vince Lumia and global wealth management division heads Bill McMahon and Rick Skae wrote in a July 12 memo to the firm’s more than 15,000 brokers and their associates.
“All volunteer hours count, whether engaging in a firm-sponsored event, or a charity you passionately support in your local community—including, for example, volunteering at your place of worship, coaching your child’s sports league or serving on a charity board of directors.”
The kicker, according to some advisors who read the memo to us, is that with the clock ticking and volunteer hours woefully behind plan, the executives urged brokers to watch hour-long presentations on an internal website from one of four charitable organizations and record the viewing time for volunteer credit. [The organizations are Children of Promise, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Great Schools.org and Virtual Judges].
“Remember that your participation could help your complex be recognized with the Points of Light President’s Volunteer Service Award, and win two grants totaling $10,000 for local charities,” the philanthropic sales executives wrote.
“Global Volunteer Month is a Morgan Stanley tradition,” said a company spokeswoman, noting that the campaign is corporate-wide. “It’s consistent with our core values of giving back.”
What’s bugging executives is that volunteer hours (physical and virtual) as of mid-day Friday were 30% behind last year’s total (see ).
Since the global wealth division contributes about half of Morgan Stanley’s total revenue and is a lot closer to local communities than the company’s traders and investment bankers, the volunteer burden appears to be falling particularly hard on brokerage executives.
“We got a message from our branch manager that it was disgraceful that we had not logged in more hours,” said a veteran broker. “We have been inundated with messages about this for the past 30 days.”
While few employees begrudge the firm’s attempt to promote good works and polish its corporate image, the urgency and login tactics strike some as hypocritical at a time when budgets are being cut, client fees are being tweaked and bonuses are increasingly geared to servicing only the wealthiest clients. It also doesn’t sit well with some that Volunteer Month coincided with Morgan Stanley’s decision to cut plant-care services at its 600 branches.
Some also question whether the “virtual volunteering” points Morgan Stanley urges brokers to achieve plays loose with the intent of the (U.S.) Presidential Service Awards. The includes an agreement form that says: “The association with the President that makes this award so meaningful also gives rise to a critical responsibility for participants to help uphold the integrity of the program so the Award retains its value and prestige for others.”
Here’s how one cynical broker summarized things in an email to x3mdot:
“It’s all hands on deck for global volunteer month! Which means that we need to get participation levels up so the complex manager can get his bonus. We don’t see him all year, yet for this month, we get emails and there is a designated person in the branch walking around office to office talking to those that have not done their service and logged their hours.
“….You don’t have to leave your seat. You don’t have to talk to anybody. You don’t actually have to help a single person to spend a penny. So, I watch a video for an hour [and] Morgan Stanley can brag about the number of volunteer hours from their employees. Oh wait, did I say volunteer? I meant, ‘do this or else you get a call from the complex director.’ Good to see what we are doing for our complex management team.”