Morgan Stanley's Fleming launches firm with Rockefellers

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The former president of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and Merrill Lynch is taking a job with the Rockefeller family.

Gregory Fleming will become chief executive of Rockefeller Capital Management, a new company formed by Rockefeller Financial Services, which has nearly $11 billion in AUM and over $5 billion in assets under advisement.

The new firm plans to "expand Rockefeller's asset management focus on global equities and ESG investing, add to its wealth management capabilities, and build a strategic advisory business," according to a statement.

Rockefeller Financial Services has concentrated on family office services and work with foundations, endowments and institutions.

Fleming was president of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management for five years, from 2011 to 2016. He was president and chief operating officer of Merrill Lynch from May 2007 to January 2009.

Fleming was an executive vice president at Merrill for nearly four years before being named president and began his career at the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

He joins a number of former wirehouse executives who have struck out to join or found independent firms, including former Merrill Lynch executives Lyle LaMothe, Rob Mooney and Greg Franks from Snowden Lane Partners and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney executives Jim Gold and Michael Maurer, who founded Steward Partners.

Fleming's lack of experience with firms with a fiduciary obligation may come at a cost, says Jamie McLaughlin, an industry consultant with UHNW expertise.

"Greg is highly regarded in the industry and has had a storied career, but the firms he has worked for have had a different delivery model from the fiduciary principles that are critical to working with complex ultrahigh-net-worth clients," McLaughlin says. "However, Rockefeller, while one of the grandest names in wealth management, has been an under achiever in the market place. And Greg is very talented, so perhaps he will provide the goosing that they need."

The chairman of Rockefeller Financial Services, David Rockefeller, Jr., said in a statement that he expected Fleming to "expand the Rockefeller platform and bring new products and services to our clients.”

Rockefeller Capital Management will be owned by an investment fund backed by Viking Global Investors, a Rockefeller family trust and the firm’s management. The ownership group, according to a statement, "anticipates making substantial additional capital investments in Rockefeller over multiple years."

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017.

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Career moves Family offices Wirehouses Going independent Greg Fleming Merrill Lynch Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Morgan Stanley Rockefeller Capital Management