Morgan Stanley is the 6th largest financial institution in the US. The company is ranked 61st on the Forbes Fortune 500 list and is the 39th largest bank in the world. A financial holding company, Morgan Stanley provides a full range of financial services to clients around the world.
Morgan Stanley was formed in 1935 as a result of the Glass-Steagall Act. Glass-Steagall separated commercial and investment banking in a way that forced the then-largest bank J.P. Morgan & Co to split into two groups. J.P. Morgan & Co. chose to retain the commercial side of the business while partners Henry S. Morga, grandson of J.P., and Harold Stanley took the investment end. In its first year, Morgan Stanley did 24% of the IPO business and maintains a lion’s share of the market to this day.
The original company existed and grew through acquisitions until 1987 when it merged with Dean Witter Discover & Co. The new Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Discover & Co existed for 14 years until 2001 when the name was shortened back to Morgan Stanley.
The bank is credited in part with both beginning and ending the financial crisis of 2007/2008. The Process Driven Trading unit lost $300 million in one day due to a short-squeeze that popped the bubble in the housing market. After teetering on the brink of failure Morgan Stanley agreed to become a bank holding company regulated by the Federal Reserve, a key factor in the original decision to split from parent J.P. Morgan & Co. Ironically when given the chance, present-day J.P. Morgan refused to buy Morgan Stanley but that was for the better.
Today, Morgan Stanley operates through three segments via offices in 41 countries and employs more than 75,000 people. Revenue in 2021 topped $49 billion and total assets topped $1.15 trillion.
The operating segments are Institutional Securities, Wealth Management, and Investment Management segments. The Institutional Securities segment is by far the largest and most profitable. It offers a range of services and products for businesses, institutions, and entities that include capital raising, strategic advisory, underwriting, advice on M&A, restructuring, and real estate. The Wealth Management segment provides brokerage and investment advisory services for individuals and employers. The services include brokerage, financial planning, company stock-plan administration, insurance, mortgage loans, lines of credit, and retirement planning. The Investment Management segment provides investment products to a range of institutions, organizations, corporations, and governments.