Morgan Stanley to curb veteran adviser recruiting

(Courtesy of Reuters.com)

The corporate logo of financial firm Morgan Stanley is pictured on the company's world headquarters in New York, U.S. April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The corporate logo of financial firm Morgan Stanley is pictured on the company’s world headquarters in New York, U.S. April 17, 2017.

 

Morgan Stanley, the biggest U.S. brokerage by head count, told brokers Tuesday that it is standing down from the expensive recruitment wars, following similar steps taken earlier this month by competitor Bank of America (BAC.N) Merrill Lynch.

Morgan Stanley, which has more than 15,000 brokers, will “significantly reduce experienced adviser recruiting,” according to a staff memo from Morgan Stanley co-heads Shelley O’Connor and Andy Saperstein that was viewed by Reuters. The news was reported earlier on Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal.

Merrill Lynch announced that, starting in June, it will no longer offer new prospects or recruits big upfront bonus checks to join its firm, a common and costly industry practice.

For years, brokerage executives have complained about the ceaseless competition among Wall Street firms to offer ever more lucrative recruitment packages to gain top advisers and their clients and assets.

The offers included a substantial sign-on check, plus a l bonus paid out over seven to 10 years based on sales and growth targets. They were used as the primary way to expand wealth management businesses, but critics said recruitment costs often outweighed returns.

Morgan Stanley will honor any approved recruitment offers made and in the “pipeline” by June 16 for brokers who are set to join the firm on or before Sept. 1, according to the memo.

UBS AG’s (UBSG.S) Wealth Management Americas last year announced plans to curb recruiting.

Wells Fargo to launch pilot with Facebook Messenger

(Courtesy of Jacksonville Business Journal)

Wells Fargo & Co. is launching a pilot to test an artificial intelligence-driven experience through Facebook Messenger.

The San Francisco-based bank — the third-largest bank in Central Florida — has hinted at incorporating financial services into third-party environments for a while now. Steve Ellis, head of Wells Fargo’s Innovation Group, talked about implementing banking tools in Facebook Messenger with sister paper Charlotte Business Journal earlier this year.

“It all comes back to making it easier for customers to do business with you,” Ellis said at the time.

“Our goal is to deliver information ‘in the moment’ to help customers make better informed financial decisions,” Ellis said in a statement Tuesday. “AI technology allows us to take an experience that would have required our customers to navigate through several pages on our website, and turn it into a simple conversation in a chat environment. That’s a huge time- saving convenience for busy customers who are already frequent users of Messenger.”

Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) says it has provided assistance to customers through Facebook since 2009. In May 2016, the bank adopted Messenger and its main channel for addressing customer questions and problems.

Facebook users have been able to send and receive money on Messenger since 2015. The social-media platform announced April 11 users can now send and receive money between groups of people on Messenger, using Android phones or desktop computers. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Wells Fargo pilot.

Most of Wells Fargo’s customer engagements now happen over Messenger, rather than on its public news feed.

The bank announced in February Ellis would lead a new team called the artificial intelligence enterprise solutions team. Since its sales scandal emerged last September, Tim Sloan, Wells Fargo’s new CEO, has said the bank is relying on technology to rebuild trust.

Most of the large banks in the U.S. are experimenting with artificial intelligence. Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America’s virtual assistant, called Erica, is expected to launch this summer.