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For the first time in 3 years Morgan Stanley has chosen to increase grid levels and add new metrics forcing advisors to do more business to make the same amount of money. In other words, codifying the very antithesis of dealing in the clients best interests.

Morgan Stanley, of course, would argue that these changes don’t put them and their advisors at odds with clients, but at minimum, it is a passive policy that incentivizes advisors to put their financial interests a few basis points before their clients. It is hard to argue otherwise.
“The brokerage giant has modified the “grid” that determines how much advisors retain of the fees and commissions their customers pay, raising production-range thresholds about 10% to qualify for their current payouts, according to people familiar with the 2020 plan.”

“For example, the lower mid-range of brokers who now keep 41% of customer revenue for producing $485,000 to $600,000 annually will have to generate $535,000 to $660,000 in the new plan. Those who now keep 49.5% when they hit the $1.8 million-to-$2.4-million range will have to generate at least $2.0 million, waiting until they reach $2.65 million to hit the next level up. The change, which takes effect in April, will affect about one-third of the wirehouse’s advisors, according to the sources.”

“The change is the first that Morgan Stanley has made to brokers’ core payout formula in three years. Other so-called wirehouses have similarly refrained from changing the grid for at least that long, fearful of antagonizing their sales forces at a time when brokers have had to accommodate to new growth, compliance and practice management changes.”

So Morgan Stanley is deciding to lead the industry in angering its advisor force. Kudos. And we’ve yet to mention that they also led their peers in exiting the broker protocol and suing advisors who take their personal brand and clients elsewhere.

Stop us if you think Morgan Stanley is a fantastic place to work. Seems the ‘house’ is more like a jail cell over at MS.

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