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In several discussions with Morgan Stanley executives last week we got an insider’s look at the firms recruiting priorities and the status of who/how they are recruiting. Some of it was predictable, in a competitive recruiting landscape; while other parts of the conversation were remarkable.

Here is a download of what we heard and how we interpreted it:

“Look, markets and client assets are at all-time highs and as a corollary, deals are at all-time highs. We are willing to be very, very competitive for the right teams in money center cities. We realize they are in high demand so we are doubling down on doing our best to put offers in front of them that make it nearly impossible to say no.”

“That is the current state of recruiting right now. Competitive doesn’t even begin to explain it. Our reputation of tech is playing a meaningful role in winning battles, but let’s be honest here – upfront bonus dollars is what recruits are in the game for – and pressing upwards of 150-175% is the game right now.”

“The most competitive bids? No doubt is Merrill PBIG teams. They want to leave and everyone knows it. They are tired of the BoA bullshit and are shopping. Not window shopping, legit price comparisons. We liken ourselves to Amazon, and we won’t hide from being the biggest firm on the street (in our category). We are perfectly comfortable with the give/take in our pitch.”

Our take…Morgan Stanley is a philosophical choice. It’s one or the other – being able to understand that with scale comes a certain amount of institutional baggage. But that baggage also carries the reality that there isn’t a box that can’t be checked for the biggest and best clients. Ergo, no compromises on the client-side.

The dollars associated with that choice – in the words of a well-known politician “bigly”.

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