Morgan Stanley’s wealth management unit posted record revenue and substantial growth in assets in the last quarter of 2019 despite losing financial advisors.
Client assets rose to $2.7 trillion in the fourth quarter, a 5% gain over the previous quarter and a 17% increase over the end of 2018, according to Morgan Stanley’s latest earnings report.
Client assets per wealth management representative, meanwhile, rose to $175 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, a 6% increase over the previous quarter and a 19% boost over the prior year, according to the report.
The firm says it had 15,468 wealth management representatives at the end of the quarter, compared to 15,553 at the end of the third quarter and 15,694 at the end of the fourth quarter of 2018.
Fee-based client assets reached $1.27 trillion by the end of 2019, a 21% increase from the end of 2018, the company says. The unit had $24.9 billion in fee-based asset inflows in the fourth quarter of 2019, compared to $16.2 billion in the same quarter of 2018, according to the report.
However, asset flows for the year were $64.9 billion, slightly off the $65.9 billion the year prior, Morgan Stanley says.
Net revenues in the unit rose to $4.6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019, compared to $4.4 billion in the third quarter and $4.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the report.
Asset management revenue rose due to higher asset levels and positive asset flows and transactional revenue increased primarily due to “gains on investments associated with certain employee deferred compensation plans and increases in investment banking activity,” Morgan Stanley says.
Net interest income, however, dropped 6% to $1 billion year-over-year, which the company primarily attributes to “changes in funding mix.”
Expenses rose from $3.13 billion in the last quarter of 2018 to $3.42 billion in the last three months of 2019, meanwhile, which Morgan Stanley says was primarily due to “increases in the fair value of deferred compensation plan referenced investments and severance costs associated with the December employee action partially offset by decreases in retention note expense.” The unit’s pre-tax income in the fourth quarter of 2019 was $1.2 billion, according to the report.
Net revenue for 2019 was $17.74 billion, up from $17.24 billion in 2018, the company says.