Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) has launched an internal investigation into the leaking of a parody video comparing the firm’s cost-cutting efforts in its massive brokerage department to the “Hunger Games” movies, with brokers killing each other in order to remain at the firm, FOX Business has learned.
The video, which cost the nation’s largest brokerage firm about $100,000 to produce, according to insiders, and featured Morgan Stanley brokerage executives, was slated to be shown at the firm’s 2014 branch manager meeting, where executives who run the firm's various wealth management branches from across the country meet annually. But the video was never shown because wealth management chief Greg Fleming believed it was in poor taste since the firm was undergoing a major round of cost cutting, people tell FOX Business
“Fleming basically felt that that the parody was like bad porn so he killed it,” one firm executive said.
The video was first published by trade publication InvestmentNews, and prompted Morgan Stanley’s senior management led by Fleming and Chief Executive James Gorman to launch an internal investigation into the leak. Company officials believe a disgruntled employee unhappy with the cost cutting measures may be behind the release of the video.
A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman declined to comment on the investigation or the video’s cost, though she confirmed the parody was never shown inside the firm.
Morgan Stanley is Wall Street’s largest brokerage firm with 16,000 financial advisers. Under Gorman, however, the firm has been slashing costs in the unit in order to improve profit margins.
The video is titled “Margin Games: Manager on Fire,” takes off on the “Hunger Games” theme, and like any parody, it contains elements of truth. Brokers in branches discuss how powerless they feel complying with management orders that are handed down by senior executives in New York, and how they need to kill or be killed to survive the firm’s cut-throat culture.
But senior Morgan Stanley executives see nothing funny in the video -- or how it was leaked just as the firm is cutting costs. “This is the last thing we need the Obama Administration to see -- a bunch of fat cat executives making fun of being fired,” another executive said.
On Wednesday, as the video began catching fire on social media, senior Morgan Stanley brokerage executives including Fleming held a meeting to determine damage control and to possibly hold accountable not just the leaker, but the executive who approved spending money on the parody.
“Whoever thought this thing was funny ought to be fired,” one Morgan Stanley executive told FOX Business.