Wealth accumulation rarely happens in a straight line. As you grow your net worth, you're likely to encounter some challenges along the way.
While it’s entirely possible to go it alone, many investors prefer to have an expert advisor on hand to guide the process.
If you are looking for help managing your wealth, Morgan Stanley is an investment bank that could offer the resources you need. You can even do your own trading. This Morgan Stanley review explores what the investment bank has to offer.
- Morgan Stanley is an investment bank that offers financial services to individuals, businesses, and other organizations.
- Access self-directed investing, virtual advisors, and dedicated human advisors.
- Gives you the opportunity to view your total wealth in a single place.
Morgan Stanley Details
$5000 (Access Investing Platform)
Stock/ETF Trade Fees
$0 commission fees for stock/ETF trades
What Is Morgan Stanley?
Morgan Stanley originally opened its doors in 1935. In the last several decades, the financial institution has grown significantly.
One of the most recent expansions was Morgan Stanley’s purchase of E*TRADE. This move allowed Morgan Stanley to offer individual control to investors looking to build their own portfolios. And the move built on the company’s previous offering of personalized wealth management services.
What Does It Offer?
There are several ways to invest with Morgan Stanley. The company offers self-directed trading, a robo-advisor platform, virtual, and full-service wealth management. They also have banking options for both personal and business banking. Note that aside from the banking and self-directed option, Morgan Stanley has fairly steep minimum account balance requirements ranging from $5,000 to $500,000.
Difference Approaches To Investing
Morgan Stanley offers different ways to build your investment portfolio.
- Access Direct: Morgan Stanley offers self-directed trading through E*Trade from Morgan Stanley. The company purchased E*TRADE in 2020. The platform allows investors to build a customized portfolio without the help of a financial advisor.
- Access Investing: If you prefer a low-cost investing option, but don't want to handle your own trades, Morgan Stanley offers its robo-advisor service, called Access Investing. The $5000 investment minimum is higher than what most robo-advisors require, though the 0.30% annual management fee is respectable.
- Virtual advisor: If you have a question about financial management, you can meet with a virtual advisor to discuss it. You can tackle your financial planning needs over the phone in one-off sessions through Morgan Stanley.
- Dedicated financial advisor: If you want access to more financial planning help, you can work with a dedicated financial advisor. With the help of a dedicated professional, you can build out a comprehensive plan and delegate certain wealth management tasks.
When you work with E*TRADE, you won’t face any minimum balance requirements. But if you want to work with a dedicated financial advisor, a $5,000 minimum investment is required.
Manage Your Financial Life Online
When you open an account with Morgan Stanley, you’ll have the opportunity to monitor all of your financial matters in one place.
For example, you can add external investment and banking accounts to display your entire financial picture within the Morgan Stanley online platform. As you build wealth, it helps to have a clear picture of your financial situation.
The interface can also help you discover trends in your cash flow and spending habits. You can even build a personalized budget through the platform that takes all of your financial details into account.
Sustainable Investing Options
ESG investment products are available through Morgan Stanley. The goal of these products is to allow you to invest in a way that aligns with environmental, social, and governance principles. It’s nice to have this option if this value-based investment strategy suits your needs.
Are There Any Fees?
Morgan Stanley’s wealth management features come with a range of fees. Here’s a look at how some of those fees break down:
- E*TRADE: You can make buy and sell US-based stocks without a commission.
- Virtual advisors: The annual advisory fee is 0.30%, which doesn’t include the fees embedded in an mutual fund or ETF investments.
- Dedicated advisors: The annual advisory fee is 0.30%, which doesn’t include the fees embedded in an mutual fund or ETF investments.
In the fine print, you’ll notice that the financial advisor’s compensation is tied to the fees and commissions you pay through different products. With that, it’s important to understand the fee structure of individual products before signing up.
How Does Morgan Stanley Compare?
Morgan Stanley is a well-known wealth advisory firm. But it’s not the right fit for everyone.
If you are looking for a more affordable hands-off approach, a robo-advisor might be a good fit. For example, Betterment offers a baseline robo-advisor with access to human advice when you need it. The management fees range from 0.25% to 0.40%.
Another option is Wealthfront, which includes a focus on socially responsible investing. This robo-advisor comes with a 0.25% assets under management fee and requires a minimum investment of $500.
The table below compares Morgan Stanley's Access Investing platform, which is it's robo-advisor service, to Betterment and Wealthfront.
$4/month or 0.25%-0.40%
Auto and Human
How Do I Open An Account?
If you want to open an account with Morgan Stanley, the process varies based on your preferences. For example, if you want to open an account with E*TRADE, the online signup process is fairly quick.
But if you want to work with a financial advisor, the first step is to find one that suits your needs. Once you find someone to work with, you’ll schedule a meeting to get everything rolling. Be prepared for the meeting with some basic information about your financial situation.
Is It Safe And Secure?
Morgan Stanley offers investment products. With any investment, there is a risk of losing your investment. The organization does carry SPIC insurance. With that, your investments are protected if the firm fails. But if you lose money in the market, those losses aren’t insured.
How Do I Contact Morgan Stanley?
If you want to get in touch with customer service, you can call 1-888-454-3965.
If you are looking for help from a virtual advisor, you can set up an online meeting through an online form. You’ll provide some contact information in the form, and the advisor will reach out to you.
Is It Worth It?
Morgan Stanley offers individuals looking to build wealth several pathways to a larger investment portfolio. Through E*TRADE by Morgan Stanley, you can essentially go it alone. But if you want more hands-on help from an advisor, that’s an option too.
Ultimately, Morgan Stanley might be the right fit for your investment needs. However, it’s critical to weigh the costs involved in the underlying funds before moving forward. If you are looking for other options, check out the best-online-stock-brokers today.
Morgan Stanley Features
Wealth Management Options
Self-directed trading, robo-advisor, virtual advisors, human advisors.
Account Types (Access Investing)
Annual Fee (Access Investing)
Stock/ETF Trade Fees
$0 commissions for online stock and ETF trades
Customer Service Number (Virtual Advisor)
Customer Service Hours (Virtual Advisor)
8am – 7:30pm ET,Monday - Friday
Mobile App Availability
iOS and Android
Web/Desktop Account Access
Morgan Stanley Review
Commissions and Fees
Ease of Use
Features and Tools
Morgan Stanley is an investment bank that offers complete wealth management services, including virtual and human advisors, and self-directed trading.
- Free stock trading through E*Trade from Morgan Stanley
- Several portfolio management options
- Expert advice is available if you want it
- $5,000 minimum for robo-advisor service
- Higher AUM fees than Betterment and Wealthfront
Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer covering banking, insurance, credit cards, mortgages and student loans. She has written for numerous finance publications, including MagnifyMoney, Business Insider and ChooseFI. Her blog, Adventurous Adulting, helps young adults get a handle on their finances.