Morgan Stanley’s turning to text messages to keep in touch with wealthy clients

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    Morgan Stanley is partnering with tech firm Twilio, to help the firm’s army of financial advisers send text messages to clients about their portfolios and current events. The partnership is part of a broader strategy at Morgan Stanley to use technology to increase engagement with existing financial adviser clients, target new clients, and digitize time intensive processes. The bank is also planning to roll out a goals-based robo-adviser option for the children of wealthy clients and younger corporate executives.

You’re a wealthy individual, and you have a day of back-to-back meetings. Then, something happens to roil the markets. It could be a surprise election result, a geopolitical event somewhere on the other side of the world, or a bombshell news report. You want to know what it means for you, and in particular, your investments.

Morgan Stanley is planning to answer that question in a text message.

The US bank’s wealth management business is partnering with Twilio to enable financial advisers to text their clients, in a compliant manner, in a bid to increase engagement with existing clients. A machine learning engine will in the future suggest text messages to the financial adviser, allowing them to tailor, approve or reject the suggested communication. There will be enhanced social media support and video-chat in the coming months, too.

“Interactions between Financial Advisors and clients should be easy and reflect how people communicate in other aspects of their lives,” Naureen Hassan, chief digital officer at Morgan Stanley, said.

The partnership is part of a digital strategy rollout at Morgan Stanley’s wealth management unit. In addition to increasing interactions with existing clients, the bank is focused on targeting new clients, and digitizing processes.

The bank is planning to roll out a goals-based robo-advisor option for the children of existing wealthy clients, and Morgan Stanley stock plan participants. The bank is one of the largest administrators of company stock plans, but the bank’s wealth management business is largely focused on those already in the C-Suite, not those in the early stages of making their way there. That’s about to change.

Then there is using tech to speed up time-consuming administrative work. The bank is planning to make over 25 processes, such as updating an address or authorizing a wire transfer, available online or through the app.

The partnership is also a part of Morgan Stanley’s broader tech strategy. The bank last week hosted its annual CTO Innovation Summit in Silicon Valley with around 65 existing vendors, and 85 startups including Twilio were invited to attend.

“There is no one technology or trend that’s going to disrupt the industry, it’s the combination and collaboration of a host of technologies and services,” Shawn Melamed, who leads Morgan Stanley’s strategic technology partnerships, said.