Reports of a less-than-perfect rollout of an integrated advisor platform at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney are an easy opportunity to mock a giant in the industry, but they also reveal a basic truth about the firm.
Morgan's ambitious 3D advisor platform has been suffering outages and other glitches in some offices.
At least one ex-Morgan insider heard that one branch was down for almost half a business day, unable to route trades along any channel more sophisticated than the fax machine.
Morgan attributes the glitches to "teething pains."
However, buried in the discussion of this product -- which theoretically bridges the advisor-facing client applications directly to the back office -- is a note that affiliates from the old Smith Barney platform are scheduled to get the technology last.
Reps from back when Morgan Stanley was an independent firm have been getting their 3D installation over the last few months, so they are the only ones reporting these glitches now.
Smith Barney isn't supposed to get access to the efficiencies that this system will supposedly open up until "the first half of 2012."
This might be a factor of different legacy technology between the two sides of the company forcing Morgan to take more time bringing Smith Barney up to speed.
But when it seems like there's a systematic campaign out there to erase the Smith Barney brand -- and send Smith Barney reps fleeing in large numbers -- it's easy to think maybe the "other" firm just came last.
At least this time, it's been an advantage. By the time Smith Barney gets hooked up, 3D will presumably be bug-free.