Case | HBS Case Collection | December 1998 (Revised December 1999)

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Private Client Services

by Thomas J. DeLong, David M. Darst, Ann K Rusher and Catherine M. Conneely


The 1997 merger of retail giant Dean Witter and investment bank Morgan Stanley was a year old when Bob Sculthorpe was appointed director of Private Client Services (PCS) at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (MSDW). The firm was still operating under two separate broker-dealer registrations, and there had been no satisfactory resolution to the dilemma facing the leaders of the retail securities division of MSDW. Where did Morgan Stanley PCS and its high net worth focus fit into the retail/investment banking giant? Should Morgan Stanley PCS be merged with the 10,000 account executives of Dean Witter? Sculthorpe faced several dilemmas: Would the highly compensated MS PCS brokers stay in an integrated brokerage unit? Client retention could also be a problem if the two salesforces were merged in a manner inconsistent with the branding of either. With several key PCS investment professionals in various stages of considering whether to leave for competitors, he knew that he must act quickly and decisively.

Keywords: Mergers and Acquisitions; Business Divisions; Investment Banking; Brands and Branding; Salesforce Management; Competitive Strategy; Retail Industry;


DeLong, Thomas J., David M. Darst, Ann K Rusher, and Catherine M. Conneely. "Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Private Client Services." Harvard Business School Case 899-107, December 1998. (Revised December 1999.)