Suffering from “account sprawl” because your various accounts are housed at many different financial institutions? It may be more of a problem than you realize.
Many of us have been here: You try to log in to your checking, savings or retirement account and after a number of incorrect username or password issues, you realize that the account you really wanted to access is at a different financial institution and another website—which you then visit with another set of username/password issues.
Or maybe this one: You're thinking about buying a new boat or car but you're not sure if you should buy it outright, or perhaps just provide a down payment. But which account should you draw from?
These are typical problems for many people, especially later in life. You’ve accumulated a number of accounts and now it’s become difficult to keep track of where all of your assets are located.
Many people find that their financial accounts can end up being spread too thin because they're using one brokerage firm for investments, another for retirement savings, a traditional bank for day-to-day finances and an insurance company for various insurance needs. But having an array of accounts can give you an unclear picture of your actual net worth.
“I get it all the time, it doesn't matter how much money people have," said Lynn Blanchard, a Senior Vice-President and Financial Advisor with Morgan Stanley. “People call to ask me if they can afford a certain purchase or investment, but I can't answer because I don’t have the full picture of where their assets are—usually because even the client can’t keep track. It’s a very typical issue.”
Managing numerous financial streams and expenses can be complex and can hinder the ability to effectively track cash flow. Consolidating your financial accounts into one relationship that can help you meet both your long term investment goals while also meeting your day to day cash management needs provides you the benefit of a comprehensive view of your finances to help you stay on course toward achieving your financial goals.
Of course, in addition to the knowledge, flexibility and convenience of having your day-to-day finances and investments managed under one roof—not to mention an easier time remembering multiple user names, passwords and websites—consolidation offers a number of additional benefits.
In the unfortunate event that a spouse passes away, if all the accounts are in one place, it makes life much easier for the surviving spouse who won't have to engage in a scavenger hunt of tracking down paper trails and searching for accounts that may not be in his or her name. “It's a lot easier to consolidate while both spouses are alive. When a spouse passes, tracking down all of the various accounts can be one of the most stressful—and most avoidable—aspects of losing a loved one," Blanchard said.
Other benefits of consolidation extend to simplifying your taxes, and making it easier if you move or if you're traveling. “When you're doing your taxes, you can get one statement [if you consolidate] instead of 30," added Blanchard. “When you move, you're only filling out one change of address form. When you travel, with today's technology you have access to all your money and accounts from anywhere in the world and you're probably saving money on fees and hidden charges. It's all about simplifying and saving."
Blanchard recommends considering consolidating your financial assets to the brokerage firm where your long term investments assets are held and which more than likely provides products and services that only traditional “brick and mortar" banks offered in the past. Morgan Stanley in particular offers a wealth of comprehensive services, including investment advice, retirement accounts, insurance, and cash management.
Morgan Stanley provides a full suite of cash management solutions to help you manage your everyday finances. These include the Morgan Stanley Debit Card with ATM Fee Rebates Worldwide1, online bill pay, direct deposit, unlimited check writing, electronic transfers of funds, and access to Morgan Stanley Online and the Morgan Stanley Mobile App.
According to Blanchard, with all the services offered by Morgan Stanley, perhaps the most important one is access to a Financial Advisor, who can help you consolidate your assets, provide advice toward managing them and make sure you have a handle on your cash flow. She encourages clients to develop and use that relationship.
“I'm not only involved in cash management or investments," Blanchard explained. “I'm involved in all my clients’ financial needs.
“The more clients want to talk to their Financial Advisor—the more we’re on the phone with them having discussions about their financial needs—the more we can do for them."