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Morgan Stanley sticking to wealth management as main source of deposits

Morgan Stanley CFO Jonathan Pruzan said his company is not looking to change its deposit-gathering strategy.

During Morgan Stanley's Oct. 16 earnings conference call, an analyst noted that some banks have been launching national digital banking strategies to gather deposits and asked if Morgan Stanley was adjusting its approach. Wealth management clients are the primary source for Morgan Stanley's deposits, and Pruzan said customers have been open to the current offerings.

"When we run the promotional products and roll out new offerings, we seem to see very good take-up," he said.

He added that the company would continue to invest in its product suite and has been working on additional premier cash management offerings while also enhancing its digital strategy. Morgan Stanley reported that it finished the third quarter with $175.19 billion in deposits, up 1% quarter over quarter and 13% year over year.

Pruzan said attracting deposits is a competitive business, but Morgan Stanley's deposits are more impacted by client asset allocation than interest rates. For instance, Pruzan said, many clients who recently saw CDs mature moved funds into investment products with an increased interest in fixed-income offerings.

Pruzan said cash levels in client accounts have dropped to about 6% after hovering at the 8%-to-10% range for some time. "We're at [historically] low levels of cash in client accounts," he said.

Still, Pruzan said the company is happy with its current deposit position and effort. "It's been sort of both a nice way to supplement liquidity in the bank, but also bring in new assets to the firm," he said.