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Morgan Stanley Expands Pact With Empower Retirement

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What You Need to Know

  • The expanded pact with Empower will help Morgan Stanley to serve advisor-sold plans under $50 million in assets with comprehensive retirement solutions.
  • As part of the expanded relationship, there will be combined access to Morgan Stanley at Work’s stock plan administration services.
  • The announcement comes shortly after Morgan Stanley announced a deal with Vestwell to serve small retirement plans.

Morgan Stanley has expanded its longstanding relationship with Empower Retirement, enhancing the Morgan Stanley at Work division’s ability to serve advisor-sold plans under $50 million in assets with comprehensive retirement solutions to attract and retain talent, the firms said Monday.

The enhanced pact with Empower comes shortly after Morgan Stanley at Work announced a business partnership and strategic investment with Vestwell to serve small retirement plans, and demonstrates the wirehouse’s “commitment to innovation and thoughtful disruption in the workplace wealth space,” according to Morgan Stanley.

Morgan Stanley’s workplace strategy was “ignited” in 2019 with the acquisition of Solium Capital, now Shareworks by Morgan Stanley, and then again, more recently, with the acquisition of E-Trade, a Morgan Stanley spokeswoman told ThinkAdvisor on Monday.

‘Digital-Forward’ Solutions

As part of the expanded relationship with Empower, there will be combined access to Morgan Stanley at Work’s stock plan administration services and Empower’s growing retirement plan market share, the companies said in the joint announcement.

Also included as part of the expanded pact are access to co-branded “digital-forward” solutions and capabilities; streamlined administration for plan sponsors and financial advisors; fund selection driven by the Morgan Stanley Global Investment Manager Analysis team; and favorable administrative pricing terms through Morgan Stanley, the firms said.

Morgan Stanley at Work’s Retirement Solutions offers a flexible, multi-provider recordkeeper platform designed to meet the needs of firms, it says.

Retirement Solutions is part of the Morgan Stanley at Work suite of financial solutions, which spans Equity Compensation through Shareworks and E-Trade Equity Edge Online, retirement and financial wellness solutions.

Morgan Stanley at Work “combines cutting-edge planning and risk management software, Morgan Stanley intellectual capital and financial education delivered through multiple channels to help employees to build a holistic plan to achieve their financial goals,” according to the company.

Morgan Stanley continues to strengthen its relationship with Empower and to “reimagine the retirement space — giving employers the services they need under one roof, while also helping employees to achieve the best possible outcomes for their financial futures,” according to Brian McDonald, co-head of Morgan Stanley at Work.

Empower and Morgan Stanley at Work now have “thousands of mutual clients and we expect that number to grow significantly through this expanded partnership,” he said in a statement.

Empower’s clients are “consistently looking for innovative ways to engage with their employees,” according to Richard Linton, president of workplace solutions at Empower Retirement.

“By combining our modern, cutting-edge technology and platform with Morgan Stanley at Work — in our view, the only provider in the market offering a truly holistic and differentiated digital experience — this is a win-win strategy for our clients and their participants,” Linton said.

Empower Retirement administered about $1.1 trillion in assets for more than 12.6 million retirement plan participants as of June 30, it said.

(Pictured: Morgan Stanley headquarters in New York; Photo: Bloomberg)