Morgan Stanley's survivor just got a huge new role

Colm KelleherMorgan StanleyColm Kelleher.

Morgan Stanley’s head of wealth management, Greg Fleming, is leaving the firm — and it looks like it’s because of another executive’s promotion.

Colm Kelleher, currently President of the firm’s institutional banking and trading division, has been named sole President of the firm. He will now oversee the prize wealth management business too.

Both Kelleher and Fleming had been seen as potential successors to CEO James Gorman; now the path has been cleared for Kelleher.

In a memo to employees on Wednesday, Gorman wrote: “I am delighted to announce that Colm Kelleher has been named President of Morgan Stanley. Greg Fleming has decided to leave the Firm to pursue other opportunities.”

Kelleher is nothing if not a survivor. He has stayed on at the bank through a number of tough years and navigated a series of changes in the bank’s senior ranks.

A survivor

He joined Morgan Stanley in 1989 and spent 15 years in the fixed income division, a business the bank is now de-emphasising. He then led the global capital markets business, before serving as CFO and cohead of Corporate Strategy during the difficult period of the financial crisis.

“For the last five years, he has led our ISG business, navigating challenging markets and adapting to a new regulatory environment while maintaining our world class equities and banking franchises,” Gorman said in the memo.

During that period, Kelleher won out in a battle of wills with dealmaker Paul Taubman in 2012. Kelleher and Taubman had been the top two executives in trading and banking, and had a rocky relationship. In the end, Kelleher was promoted, and Taubman was left to launch his own advisory firm.

With the latest promotion, Kelleher has been handed even more power at the bank.

“I very much look forward to working with Colm as my partner in leading the Firm over the next several years,” Gorman wrote in the memo Wednesday.

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