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Morgan Stanley launches new advisory technology platform

The company is ramping up its fight to distinguish the wealth management business in the key area of technology

The firm launched WealthDesk – a new platform for its army of more than 15,000 financial advisors. The idea of the platform is to provide financial advisors with one dashboard where they can go for all of their financial planning, advice and implementation tasks.

The effort is part of a broader technology at the firm. Morgan Stanley has rolled out a tool named Next Best Action, which uses AI to help advisors better target their communications to clients. The firm is also teamed up with BlackRock to deliver its risk analytics platform Aladdin to its advisor force.

The new platform will serve as one place where financial advisors can access all of those tools. That means that advisors will no longer have to move in and out of applications.

“We are intentionally spending more money than a lot of other firms have,” an executive at the firm stated. “We’ve said from the very beginning we think the future of wealth is a combination of people (and) advisors, paired with the best in class technology.”

The platform also lets advisors monitor assets that clients have held elsewhere—like 401(k) accounts, in order to make more accurate financial plans.

The platform includes four main parts: portfolio advice, which lets advisors construct portfolios and screen investments; portfolio risk, which helps advisors evaluate the risks changes could bring to a portfolio before they make them; relationship fee implementation, which helps come up with a pricing strategy for a client relationship and keep those charges consistent; and “client playback,” a tool through which advisors can provide their clients with a summary of their accounts each quarter.

The WealthDesk platform was built in house and piloted with a group of financial advisors. As a result, 10-15% of financial advisors have already adopted the technology.

Morgan Stanley will also provide extensive training on the platform in 2019. That includes regional and branch sessions, as well as one-off training sessions.

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