Just more than a week after Ian W. Jones announced he was leaving Marco Consulting Group, the Chicago-based consulting firm filed a lawsuit against its former president and his new employer, Morgan Stanley, to prevent what it termed a “raid on MCG's clients.”
Marco Consulting Group filed suit April 25 in U.S. District Court in Chicago “seeking injunctive relief and money damages.” Both sides entered into an “agreed order” on April 27 preventing Mr. Jones and Morgan Stanley from having any contact for the next 14 days with Marco Consulting clients that Mr. Jones had been serving before he left the company April 14, according to a news release from the investment consulting firm.
On April 20, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Morgan Stanley's wealth management unit, announced that Mr. Jones had joined the group's investment consulting arm, Graystone Consulting, as a senior vice president and institutional consulting director, focused on the Taft-Hartley marketplace.
In a telephone interview on April 27, Jack Marco, chairman of Marco Consulting, said his firm immediately sought a restraining order after getting a call on April 25 from National Retirement Fund, a New York-based client whom Mr. Jones had been serving, asking Mr. Marco to come to a meeting at which Mr. Jones would also be present, to discuss the more than $1 billion union plan's consulting relationships going forward.
Mr. Marco said Mr. Jones' contract with Marco Consulting contained a non-compete clause preventing the former senior consultant from contacting, soliciting or offering his services to the clients he served while at Marco Consulting for a period of two years after leaving the firm. Mr. Marco said he subsequently confirmed that Mr. Jones had contacted other former clients as well.
Reached by telephone, Mr. Jones declined to comment. Morgan Stanley spokeswoman Christy Pollak also declined to comment.
Mr. Marco said he attended the meeting April 27 with trustees of the National Retirement Fund, together with Michael Joyce, a senior Boston-based consultant whom Marco Consulting named as Mr. Jones' replacement on that fund. Mr. Jones did not attend the meeting, in accordance with the agreed order.
Mr. Marco said a court hearing has been scheduled toward the end of the two-week period agreed to between the two sides.
In an earlier interview, Mr. Marco said Mr. Jones' departure on April 15 had been a “big surprise.” He said Mr. Jones' title of president carried no functional responsibilities, and no one will replace him in that position.