Morgan Stanley inked deals with 10 digital partners in 2016: CEO

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 17, 2017 9:20 AM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Morgan Stanley's wealth management business signed deals with 10 new digital partners last year, Chief Executive James Gorman said during a call on Tuesday with analysts to discuss the bank's fourth-quarter earnings.

The new "digital alliances," as Gorman described them, signal a shift away from the do-it-yourself approach the bank took to technology in the past and its appetite for new ways to interact with technology-savvy clients, such as through apps and text messages.

Unlike some of its Wall Street peers who have announced partnerships with automated investment tools called "robo-advisors," Morgan Stanley has repeatedly said it believes the best way to use technology is alongside human advisors.

One of the alliances Gorman referred to was a deal it signed in late December with software company Addepar. The California company's software is being rolled out to 20 top financial advisory teams, and will help advisers track wealthy clients' assets across all the bank accounts they have.

Gorman said the partnerships will be rolled out to advisers and clients across wealth management branches.

The bank hired a number of key executives to build out its digital offering within wealth management last year, including Naureen Hassan, who joined as chief digital officer for the wealth business from Charles Schwab & Co Inc.

Morgan's profit doubled in the last quarter of the year, far exceeding expectations, as trading activity surged following the U.S. presidential election.

(Reporting By Elizabeth Dilts; Editing by Nick Zieminski)