John Mack complained about “how fat” his hands are in an oil painting of himself unveiled yesterday afternoon during his Morgan Stanley retirement party, while his replacement James Gorman bragged that he’s both “a little longer and a little skinnier” than the departing chairman of the big investment bank.
These were among the many statements made at what turned out to be celebrity roast, Wall Street style in Morgan Stanley’s cafeteria to commemorate Mack’s retirement after a 40 year career, as told by our mole at the firm. In addition to Gorman, Mack was ribbed by his PR woman, Jeanmarie McFadden who revealed that the notoriously quick-tempered Mack “cries a lot…more than (house speaker) John Boehner” and “loves shoes,” while Tom Nides, his former chief operating officer (now Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources) called Mack a “big marshmallow.”
Mack is retiring this year after a storied and at times controversial career that began as a Morgan municipal-bond salesman and after brief stints at a hedge fund and running the Credit Suisse, culminated with his return to Morgan Stanley where Mack led the firm through the financial crisis. Known as “Mack the Knife” for his decisiveness as much as his temper, Mack turned over the day-to-day operations of CEO to Gorman in 2010, though he remained as chairman to help the firm’s latest transition from a risk-taking trading outfit to one that specializes on providing advice to individuals through its massive brokerage network, and large companies through its investment bank.
But this transition hasn’t been without its own set of problems; investors continue to question the new approach and worries about Morgan’s exposure to troubled European debt has caused its stock to widely fluctuate all year.
In fact, Mack himself referred to the company’s zig-zagging stock price during the event, commenting that “on one hand, I’m happy about retiring; on the other hand, the stock went up 5 percent since the announcement.”
That may or may not be accurate since shares of Morgan Stanley after their wild ride at trading at about where they were when Mack announced that he was retiring in September, but what is accurate is that Mack still has a lot fans inside the firm.
David Darst, Morgan’s chief investment strategist, called Mack “the ultimate what-you-see is what you get,” while Nides talked about how much money Mack gives away to charity.
Though he took issue with the depiction of the girth of his hands in the portrait of him, he said he “liked the extra hair—it’s great.”
Towards the end of the event, Mack also disclosed one little known personal fact about himself: He has something of a shoe fetish. Referring to McFadden’s earlier comment, Mack said: “I do love shoes, just women’s shoes. I told my wife that if I had to do this all again, I would be a shoe salesman.”
McFadden had no immediate comment on Mack’s shoe fetish.