Morgan Stanley Fiduciary Rule Adjustments Seek Flexibility

Morgan Stanley says its wealth management clients working with advisers “will continue to have choice in how they pay for retirement accounts covered by the new Department of Labor fiduciary rule.”

A new sales approach announced by Morgan Stanley seeks to allow advisers to get paid either via commissions for transactions or through a fee based on the value of account assets.

“Morgan Stanley’s core values of putting clients first and doing the right thing are behind our plan for implementing the Department of Labor’s upcoming fiduciary rule for retirement accounts,” explain Shelley O’Connor and Andy Saperstein, co-heads of wealth management for Morgan Stanley. “Client needs vary by their individual situations, and they tell us they want choice in how they pay for services. We believe our advisers can most effectively uphold a fiduciary standard of care and work in clients’ best interests by continuing to offer choice.”

Moving forward after the DOL implementation in 2017, Morgan Stanley clients who prefer transaction-based pricing “will continue to have access to retirement brokerage accounts and receive advice that complies with the DOL fiduciary rule and Best Interest Contract Exemption (BIC).” These accounts will offer a product suite including mutual funds and exchange traded products (such as ETFs) amongst other products.

Clients who prefer a fee-based retirement account, on the other hand, will also be able to pursue advisory services through that model.  

More information about the decision and the pros and cons of each approach is at

Other firms to make similar announcements recently regarding ongoing use of commissions (or the halt of commission-based business) include Commonwealth Financial Network and Merrill Lynch, among others