Since Jim Gorman became CEO of Morgan Stanley, his key initiative has been around technology, and, more recently, artificial intelligence, spending $4 billion on trading/fixed income, financial advisory, wealth management, et al.
2018 has been a breakthrough year on various fronts:
– In June 2018, Morgan Stanley hired Michael Kearns as Head of AI, an expert on AI since the 1980s, when he wrote his Harvard PhD on the complexity on machine learning, before spending ten years at AT&T Labs, and advising firms including SAC Capital, Lehman Brothers, and others. He also is a long-time Professor of Computer Science at the University of Pennsylvania.
– MS spent years on developing the AI “next best action” tool for its 16K financial advisors, combining ML, predictive analytics and workflow technology. As part of that effort, the firm in 2016 hired Naureen Hassan as Chief Digital Officer (from Schwab), and Jeff McMillan as Chief Data and Analytics Officer. Next best action combines structured and unstructured data for investment ideas to be shared with clients: AI goes through research reports (55,000 per year produced by MS), market data, client databases, etc to come up with insights and draft recommendations. It also looks at clients’ life events, deadlines, birthdays, service alerts, elder care etc to draft customized actions for advisors.
– In November 2018, Morgan Stanley announced that launch of WealthDesk, a new digital platform that the 16K advisors will be trained on now and in 2019. WealthDesk is aiming to provide them with one consolidated dashboard to go to for all financial planning, advice and implementation tasks. It was tested by selected FAs and now is being rolled out broadly.
– In December 2018, Morgan Stanely announced a technology partnership with Yext and their AI ready data structure to provide Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors with a platform to create and manage their business websites and digital presence (and leverage Yext’s intelligent search capabilities to enhance prospecting).
“AI-powered services have transformed the way people search for financial services, making it vital for Financial Advisors to provide direct answers everywhere consumers are looking,” said Howard Lerman, Founder and CEO of Yext. “We’re proud to put Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors in control of the facts about them online, so that they can easily help provide accurate answers to complex consumer questions and win more business.”
In support of its larger tech and AI strategy, Morgan Stanley has Fintech partnerships with BlackRock/Aladdin, Hearsay, Investnet, Salesforce, Solium, Twilio, and Yodlee among others.
Not yet WeChat as a SuperApp for financial advice, but it’s a start.