Morgan Stanley may close up to 100 offices in its retail brokerage network as part of a larger cost-cutting effort aimed at raising profit margins, reports Reuters.
The news agency quoted unnamed sources and a Morgan Stanley spokeswoman, who refused to comment. The bank controls broker-dealer Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, which it owns in a joint venture with Citigroup. Morgan Stanley wants to increase its stake in MSSB to 65 percent from its current 51 percent.
On July 19, Morgan Stanley missed estimates when it reported second-quarter net revenue was down sharply to $7 billion compared with $9.2 billion for the same period in 2011. But income from continuing operations was up to $563 million, or 28 cents a share, compared with a loss of 36 cents a share, in the 2011 second quarter. Another highlight in the 2012 second quarter was the company's global wealth management division, where net revenues were $3.3 billion and the pre-tax margin was 12% compared with 9% a year ago.
Meanwhile, some high-profile advisors have not been waiting to see things turn around. For example, in March, The La Jolla Group, with $300 million in assets, left Morgan Stanley for LPL Financial and became Ibis Capital in San Diego. Raymond James announced in June that Alpha Capital Partners, a New Jersey-based team with $187 million in assets and generating $1.4 million in annual revenue, was joining them from Morgan Stanley. HighTower announced just weeks ago that it landed The Lerner Group, a team managing $600 million for high-net-worth clients at MSSB.
At the same time, Morgan Stanley has been concerned about it's flagging bond business and is looking at replacing bond traders with computers, the Wall Street Journal reports today.
More changes at Morgan Stanley are expected to be announced in coming weeks.