Soon, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management will eclipse $5 trillion in total client assets. The industry-leading wirehouse reportedly amassed $4.93 trillion in client assets at the end of last year, which makes for a 23% increase over 2020. Morgan Stanley's acquisition of E*Trade in 2020, in addition to many technological enhancements meant to strengthen advisor productivity, have surely played a significant role in its rapid growth.
In the fourth quarter alone, the wealth management unit raked in $127 billion in net new assets, which represents a 73% increase from the previous year. Net new assets for the full year landed at $437.8 billion. In the years since the financial crisis, wealth management has risen to become a crucial component of Morgan Stanley's business, showing stronger growth than other divisions. In 2009, the unit earned $9 billion in net revenue in comparison to the institutional securities business' $19 billion. Last year, wealth management produced $24 billion, while institutional securities topped out at $30 billion.
Morgan Stanley reports that its wealth management business now serves 5.6 million stock plan participants and has unvested assets of $509 billion as of the end of 2020. Those numbers are up 14% and 17%, respectively. When those assets eventually vest, the firm wants those participants to transition into wealth management clients. Though the goal of 30% as of now is unreached, Morgan Stanley had a 24% asset retention rate last year, a 21% increase from 2020.