Layout shapes and placeholders should keep their stacking order on the slide
In all versions of PowerPoint, an image placeholder stacked behind an autoshape on a slide layout will display the placeholder stacked above the autoshape on a slide. The stacking or z-order of layout placeholders and shapes should be displayed the same way on slides.
Debra Rammell commented
May be this can be done in Windows now but can it be applied to PowerPoint for Mac? Even with a smartart graphic, I can't seem to keep the order from the slide master being the same on the actual slide.
I'd take this a bit further and ask that a user (most likely the person designing the master/layout) be able to choose the desired behavior of master shapes as they appear on slides. A very common request, for example, is to be able to include a picture placeholder/content placeholder on the layout so the end-user can click it and select a picture to appear on a slide WITHOUT the picture covering up other content on the slide itself.
John Korchok commented
Does Microsoft want to continue into the 21st century? Wake up to one of the most commonly asked for changes on answers.microsoft.com: The stacking order on the Master and Layout must also apply to the slide! Duh!
Daniel Smith commented
This is the most common request I get from clients and it's absurd that Powerpoint still cannot do this.