Retaining its title from last year, Morgan Stanley is North America’s best bank for wealth management. With $2.46 trillion under management, it is among the top three largest wealth managers in the world and sets the standard for others.
It has a vast technology and product platform, outpaces its peers in investments that support financial advisers, its earnings are above industry averages and its margins in the wealth management business are over 25% on $16 billion of revenues.
In November last year Morgan Stanley took another step towards being the wealth manager of choice for financial advisers, launching WealthDesk, a platform that provides them with one dashboard where they can go for all of their financial planning, advice and execution tasks.
It followed the launch of Next Best Action, which uses artificial intelligence to help advisers maintain regular client contact and see where they might recommend a range of investment solutions. In addition, the firm brought BlackRock’s risk analytics platform, Aladdin, to its 15,000 advisers, integrating the system into its operations.
But how do you reach more clients? In February, Morgan Stanley announced the acquisition of Solium Capital, a global provider of stock-plan equity administration, financial reporting and compliance. Solium’s 3,000 stock-plan clients, with one million participants, include Dropbox, BrewDog, Levi Strauss and a range of fast growing private companies with young employees, as well as newly public companies – all of which can now be linked to Morgan Stanley’s wealth business.
“More companies are using equity compensation, and they want to teach employees more how to manage the compensation – now we can provide the software to manage the compensation and advise on financial wellness and ultimately incubate relationships for advisers,” says Andy Saperstein, head of wealth management.
In terms of products, Morgan Stanley also excels – particularly around environmental, social and governance criteria and impact investing. The bank has $28 billion in assets under management in its Investing with Impact platform and more recently created another six new ‘impact portfolios’ with low minimums to increase access for a larger investor audience.