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Industry Spotlight > Women in Wealth

Morgan Stanley Adding Stock-Plan Firm to Wealth Unit

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A month after Morgan Stanley said it was buying stock-plan administrator Solium Capital for $900 million, the wirehouse is reorganizing its Wealth Management leadership and operations to take advantage of the acquired platform.

The co-heads of the unit — Shelley O’Connor and Andy Saperstein — just told the firm’s nearly 15,700 advisors that Wealth Management COO Jed Finn had been tapped to also serve as head of the new Corporate and Institutional Solutions group, which will include Solium. He will be supported by Managing Director Brian McDonald.

“Last month’s announcement of our acquisition of Solium positions the firm to be an industry leader in workplace wealth solutions by bringing together the premier stock plan administration platform with our leading Wealth Management business,” according to O’Connor and Saperstein.

Other leadership changes affect Ben Huneke, head of Investment Solutions, who will help run the consolidated product and platform group, along with Jim Tracy, head of Morgan Stanley’s Consulting Group and Graystone Consulting.

Lisa Golia, head of Field Strategic Services, will lead the combined branch-service organization.

Speaking with Bloomberg last month, Saperstein said the wirehouse would “look to pursue more” acquisitions for strategic purposes.

Latest Quarterly Results

In the fourth quarter of 2018, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management’s net income soared 144% from a year earlier to $769 million. Pretax income, however, weakened to $1.01 billion from $1.15 billion, and the group had a pretax margin of 24.4% in the latest quarter.

Revenue in Q4 dropped 6% to $4.1 billion, mainly due to losses on investments tied to some employee deferred compensation plans, according to the bank.

Bank of America’s wealth business, which includes Merrill Lynch, had a 43% year-over-year jump in profits to $1.1 billion in the latest quarter. Its pretax margin was 29% in the year-ago quarter. Revenue was roughly $5 billion, up from $4.7 billion a year ago.

Morgan Stanley’s total client assets were $2.3 trillion in the fourth quarter, with fee-based assets at $1.0 trillion. Fee-based asset flows during the quarter were $16.2 billion. Average fees and commissions per advisor were $1.1 million.

For the full year, net revenues for 2018 were $17.2 billion, up 2% from $16.8 billion in 2017. The 2018 pretax margin was 26.2% compared with 25.5% a year ago, and net income improved 49% year over year to $3.5 billion.


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