MORGAN STANLEY CEO: One thing we can do that no robot can

Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman thinks that the robo-advisers crashing the wealth management industry and setting their sights on his clients are, well, a bunch of tools.

“There are tools, and there are value-added activities,” he told host Andrew Ross Sorkin at the DealBook conference in New York Tuesday.

He views Morgan Stanley as the latter. And, as for robo-advisers like Wealthfront or Betterment, he thinks they fall short of the services big banks provide.

“It won’t replace financial advice,” he said. “These are people who have got real wealth.”

Specifically, Gorman was referring to estate planning and managing complex arrangements for clients, which he says Morgan Stanley financial advisors have the capacity to process.

“Having the help and benefit of a financial advisors” who help with complex decisions is the value-added proposition that Morgan Stanley and other Wall Street advisory firms provide, Gorman said.

Not everyone is swayed to Gorman’s argument. A recent Citigroup report suggested the asset class could mushroom to being worth $US5 trillion over the next decade.

If that becomes a reality, Gorman sounded prepared speaking Tuesday.

“Whether we build or buy it, we should have it,” he said.

So maybe one day Gorman will add a robo-adviser to Morgan Stanley’s toolbox.

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