Morgan Stanley elevated Asia-Pacific Chief Executive Officer Gokul Laroia to its global operating committee, underscoring the region’s growing importance as the firm increases investments in China and other fast-growing Asian economies.
Laroia’s seat at the table of the firm’s most senior management group is a reflection of his strengths as a banker and leader, CEO James Gorman said in a memo that was seen by Bloomberg News and confirmed by a Hong Kong-based spokesman. It’s first time under Gorman that an Asia-based executive has joined the committee.
Laroia, who’s based in Hong Kong, has been steadily expanding the firm’s businesses across Asia-Pacific in the past few years, building out its wealth operations and bolstering securities and investment-banking revenue in India and China. He’s one of the few senior Wall Street executives to have led businesses across investment banking, equities and wealth management in multiple Asian markets.
Part of Laroia’s remit is to oversee the New York-based firm’s push into mainland China, where Wall Street banks are facing mounting challenges as economic growth slows and the geopolitical situation remains tense. The bank, which is seeking several new licenses to ramp up its business in the world’s second-biggest economy, earlier this year was criticized by the China Securities Regulatory Commission for subsidizing its Chinese operations with income from overseas and ordered to fix its business model.
Morgan Stanley’s Asia-Pacific revenue rose to $7.45 billion last year, a 70% increase from when Laroia took over as co-CEO for the region excluding Japan in 2014. He became sole CEO for the region in September when Wei Sun Christianson announced her retirement.
Laroia joined Morgan Stanley in India in 1995 and has spent the majority of his career in Hong Kong. He has also worked in Mumbai, New York and Singapore.
He also serves as co-head of global equities, an area that has been at the center of controversy. The firm disclosed in February that U.S. regulators and prosecutors are investigating various aspects of its block-trading business, acknowledging the firm itself is under scrutiny as authorities dig into how Wall Street bankers and money managers carry out stock transactions big enough to move prices.Ahead of Laroia joining, the operating committee was comprised of 18 members, including Gorman, the co-heads of investment banking and the head of wealth management, among others.