Matthew Comyn will join Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in late February as chief executive of its Australian wealth management business. He was previously managing director of Commonwealth Securities, the stockbroking arm of Commonwealth Bank of Australia. 

He replaces Tom Burns at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, who stayed on for a few months to oversee the integration and has now returned to the US to assume a senior role with the firm.

Comyn, who has been with Commonwealth Securities for over a decade, will report to Steve Harker, Australia chief executive at Morgan Stanley. "We've hired the head of the biggest retail broker in Australia," says Harker, "which is a strong statement about our commitment to this business."

"His proven management and business-building skills, allied with his deep knowledge of the Australian retail wealth management and share-trading sector, are strong value-adding attributes for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney," he adds.

Morgan Stanley did not have a retail operation in Australia before the Smith Barney merger. "So the global deal was terrific for us in Australia," says Harker. "They had a good network, they're strong, and we're looking to make them stronger."

The merger was announced in January 2009 and completed in June. The group is undertaking a comprehensive development plan for the business in Australia, which has resulted in a significant number of financial advisers joining the firm. 

And it plans to add further to the team of 180 financial advisers and build its platform and presence in the Australian market, where it manages A$15 billion of assets. And they may ultimately have a greater choice of funds to sell, if an initiative led by Sydney-based Think Global Consulting succeeds in attracting more Asian fund managers to market their products in Australia.

Les Menkes, Singapore-based regional head of international wealth management at Morgan Stanley, says Australia is a "strategic growth market" for the firm.