Morgan Stanley wants brokers to use new tech to chase $2 trillion in assets held outside the firm

Co-head of wealth management Andy Saperstein pointed to a new financial planning program as a way for brokers to capture a bigger share of clients' assets

May 29, 2018 @ 2:10 pm

By Bruce Kelly

Morgan Stanley is betting that its brokers will use a new, integrated wealth management platform to grab some of the roughly $2 trillion in assets its clients currently hold outside the firm.

In a presentation Tuesday in New York that focused on recent technology rollouts at the firm, Andy Saperstein, co-head of Morgan Stanley wealth management, pointed to a new financial planning program as a way for brokers to gain a bigger share of clients' assets.

"To address the changing nature of advice, we have recently released our goals planning system, or GPS," said Mr. Saperstein, who was speaking in New York at the Deutsche Bank global financial services conference. "GPS links to your life goals and tells you how likely you are to reach them and how well funded you are at any given point in time."

"Remember that asset consolidation is a key element of our growth strategy given that our clients hold an estimated $2 trillion of assets away from us," he said. "We've just never given them a good reason to consolidate them with us."

Morgan Stanley's 15,682 brokers currently control $2 trillion in client assets.

There is no doubt Morgan Stanley is focused on growth. Its CEO, James Gorman, said this month that he would like the company's asset management division to join the $1 trillion club. The unit — the smallest of the bank's three major divisions — had $469 billion in assets at the end of March.

Morgan Stanley's wealth management division saw assets fall slightly in the first three months of the year, but its profits hit a record high, according to the quarterly earnings report released last month.

Morgan Stanley used both in-house technology and outside firms to build the new platform, Mr. Saperstein said, adding that combination gives the firm a competitive advantage.

"Now while some of the technology is proprietary to Morgan Stanley, you'll notice that much of it has been developed in partnership with leading fintech providers," Mr. Saperstein said. "One of the advantages of our scale and industry position is that the leading fintech players not only want to sell to us, they want to co-develop products with us."

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