It's the end of an era and the beginning of a new one as Morgan Stanley announced Tuesday that its U.S. wealth management business, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, has changed its name to Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.
The firm mailed out a letter to clients late last week announcing the change. The letter signed by James Gorman, the chairman and chief executive officer of Morgan Stanley, and Gregory Fleming, the president of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, told clients: "In the coming months, you will notice some small alterations to the communications you receive, as we add our new name to statements, confirmations, letters and emails." The letter further stated: "Completing the largest integration ever of two wealth management organizations has meant that some of you have experienced changes in areas such as account statements, online access and checking. We regret any inconvenience this has caused, and want to thank you for your loyalty and patience during this process."
Yet, there was only a positive outlook displayed in the statement released this morning by the firm. In that release Gorman said: "Today, as we move under one name, we are culminating a three-year effort to integrate two outstanding franchises. The Smith Barney name stood for investment excellence for three-quarters of a century and Morgan Stanley Wealth Management will provide the first-class service that has distinguished Morgan Stanley as a firm for more than 75 years."
And, in the same statement, Fleming added: "Today, we are one integrated business."
The broker-dealer designation for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management will remain Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, according to the firm's announcement. The firm says it has $1.7 trillion in client assets handled by 17,000 advisors in 740 locations. Earlier this month, Morgan Stanley said it was increasing its stake in the joint venture it entered into with Citi's Smith Barney back in 2009, a move that initially created Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.