Morgan Stanley CDO Naureen Hassan (Photo: Shane O’Neill)

Morgan Stanley (MS) Chief Digital Officer Naureen Hassan says the key challenge for broker-dealers and other financial firms is meeting the expectations of both advisors and clients – not competing with robo offerings.

“The financial technology revolution … is a myth. It’s just another step in the continual evolution” of the business, Hassan explained at Hearsay Social’s annual Innovation Summit in San Francisco on Thursday.

“The winning strategy is combining the best of digital with the power of our 16,000 advisors,” she told an audience of several hundred financial services and fintech professionals.

Getting there, however, is not a simple or easy process, given the industry’s regulatory hurdles and legacy issues that have limited how quickly large broker-dealers adapt to change.

“We are starting from a base that is complex,” Hassan said. This means the challenge is “how to build off that and [deal with] the complexity of building on top of the history of mergers and acquisitions” at the firm.

The new CDO, who joined the wirehouse six weeks ago after leaving a similar role at Charles Schwab (SCHW), has been visiting branch offices and advisors to grasp where the firm is and where its advisors want to go in terms of technology.

“The eagerness … for digital … is all about [the advisors asking] when can I have it? Digital technology makes it easier for them, for their clients and for business growth,” Hassan said.

Morgan Stanley has four focus areas for its digital goals: marketing, digitized process, next-gen products and client experience. The wirehouse is using data and technology more “to understand our clients better, so the advisors can take action,” she explains.

But it’s clear that advisors “need to be there – texting, emailing, using social media and all channels of communications,” Hassan says. Plus, the financial services industry needs to do more “to take paperwork out of system – financial services is so archaic,” she explained.

“We need to focus on next-gen products, so clients can stay with us through their [entire] lifecycle,” Hassan said. “It’s about being mobile, anytime and anywhere for [the best] client experience.”

— Check out The Best ROI Marketing Strategy for Advisors on ThinkAdvisor.