Morgan Stanley boss James Gorman said he’s “been fortunate” despite getting sick with the coronavirus last month, and that his recent decision not to lay off employees amid a looming recession was a no-brainer.
The crisis took a personal turn at Morgan Stanley last week when Gorman, the bank’s 61-year-old chief executive, disclosed to employees in a video that he’d tested positive for COVID-19 and had recovered after battling symptoms.
“I’ve been fortunate … there are millions who haven’t had the same outcome and my heart goes out to them,” Gorman told one analyst about his own COVID struggle, before adding that he hoped the government response in the US would include more widespread testing.
On March 26, Gorman had told workers in a companywide memo that their jobs were secure through the end of 2020. On Thursday, he told an emotional story about an employee whose husband had been laid off and had been worried about her own status.
The worried employee emailed Gorman the morning after the memo to tell him she was “overwhelmed” by the announcement.
The decision not to impose layoffs was “one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made,” Gorman told analysts.
Other than being the only one who actually contracted it, James Gorman appears to be the Wall Street CEO least affected by the coronavirus.
The Wall Street megabank on Thursday said its first-quarter profit plunged 30 percent as the pandemic crushed results in March, with earnings per share of $1.01 missing analysts’ expectations of $1.14.