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Morgan Stanley Inks Deal to Add Law Firm Software Users to Shareworks

By Miriam Rozen February 24, 2021

Morgan Stanley has inked a deal with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati enabling privately held companies using the law firm’s capitalization management software to migrate to the wirehouse’s Shareworks platform, the companies have announced.

The deal is part of a marketing push of Morgan Stanley workplace financial solutions that could benefit a portion of its advisors.

The news is “another proof point that Morgan Stanley is going all-in” on workplace financial solutions, says Louis Diamond, executive VP and senior consultant at Morristown, N.J.-based Diamond Consultants. “For advisors the benefits of this is the access to high net worth stock plan participants who may be in need of wealth management services.”

Startups and their employees use Wilson Sonsini’s capitalization management software to track equity positions, according to the joint announcement of the deal from the law firm and the brokerage.

Morgan Stanley’s Shareworks platform offers equity plan management solutions that help both private and public companies simplify share plan management, provide disclosures, and support tax and legal compliance. Shareworks offers its services to companies in all stages of equity planning — from startups offering employees ownership shares to companies launching initial public offerings, according to the brokerage.

”Morgan Stanley intends to be the leader in capitalization management for private companies and early-stage startups, helping them to manage the complexities of their equity and employee stock plans,” Jed Finn, Morgan Stanley Wealth Managements head of corporate and institutional solutions, says in a statement.

The new pact with Wilson Sonsini, paired with Morgan Stanley’s acquisitions of Solium Capital in 2019 and E*Trade in 2020, including its corporate services unit, “are a part of our long-term strategy to be the premier provider of financial solutions to workplace employees,” Finn says.

Morgan Stanley services 4.9 million stock plan participants, according to the release, including clients of what was formerly called E*Trade’s Equity Edge Online and of Solium—both of which Morgan Stanley has placed under its Shareworks unit.

But not all of Morgan Stanley's financial advisors will benefit from any client windfalls that flow from the new Wilson Sonsini deal.

Client referrals from Shareworks are going to continue to go to a pre-selected group of 500 qualified FA teams, according to a person familiar with the deal, who asked not to be identified.

A Morgan Stanley spokesperson declined to comment publicly on that element of the plan.

Last fall, Morgan Stanley told its financial advisors that any client referrals coming from its E*Trade unit will go to a pre-selected set of 500 teams, as previously reported.

In all, that elite group represents only 1,200 advisors, or 7.7% of the wirehouse’s 15,469 FAs.

Prior to the Morgan Stanley acquisition, E*Trade referred wealthy clients seeking advice to its network of roughly 220 RIAs.

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Tags:  Finding and winning new clients , Client retention , ERISA plans/institutional management , Technology , Staffing and recruiting , Diamond Consultants , E*Trade , Morgan Stanley

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