5,724 $m
Financial Services
Morgan Stanley’s identity and role in the post-recession world is still unfolding despite the firm’s strong Q2 2013 earnings and plans to repurchase USD $500 million worth of its own stock. Since the economic crisis, the brand’s decision to transform its business model by downsizing its trading and wealth management businesses has led to poor performance and raised questions among investors. After some missteps, Morgan Stanley is beginning to better manage expectations of external stakeholders and deliver on its key strategic priorities. In June 2013, the firm received US regulatory approval to buy its remaining stake in the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney joint venture. With full ownership of its wealth management business, Morgan Stanley hopes to assuage shareholders’ concerns and deliver higher profit margins. Discussions between Morgan Stanley and Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, the country’s largest bank by market value, indicate the brand’s commitment to strengthen its Global Wealth Management business and increase its presence in Asia. Moreover, the firm’s decision to hire former White House and Treasury official Michele Davis as its Global Head of Corporate Affairs indicates how Morgan Stanley plans to navigate new regulations, manage external communications, and ultimately strengthen brand perception. Whether the firm can truly accomplish all that while consistently achieving higher shareholder returns is yet to be determined, but Morgan Stanley is steadily making progress to establish itself as the global leader it once was.