Morgan Stanley

Financial Decision-Making a Joint Effort for High-Net-Worth Couples, Survey Finds

Sep 9, 2014

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Survey Finds That Couples Collaborate on Key Decisions Related to Retirement; Financial Advisors Recognize Couples’ Partnership in Financial Decisions

New York —


Nearly seven in ten high-net-worth individuals in a marriage or domestic partnership say they collaborate with their partner on key financial decisions, according to the latest Investor Pulse Poll by Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.

The survey found that 66% of high net worth investors made joint financial decisions with their spouse or partner, and this was particularly true on matters related to retirement.

“The days when most financial decisions in a household were made unilaterally are clearly over, and financial advisors recognize this fact,” said Shelley O’Connor, Head of Field Management for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.

“Fully 80% of the couples we surveyed said their financial advisor talks with both parties – usually when they meet together as a group.  Helping couples collaborate on important life decisions is a key part of every financial advisor’s value proposition.”

Issues of retirement lead the list of subjects that couples discuss and make decisions on jointly, according to the survey.  Couples report that both partners are equally likely to start conversations about these topics:

  • Having enough money to sustain lifestyle after retirement (71%)
  • How to fund retirement (70%)
  • Your spouse’s/partner’s health (67%)
  • Planning for an unexpected serious illness (66%)
  • Helping pay for children/grandchildren’s education (66%)
  • Preserving wealth for heirs (66%)

The survey includes responses from over 1,000 investors across the U.S. with at least $100,000 in investible assets, a third of which have assets of $1 million or more.  The sample is representative of 94% of total U.S. household investible assets.

The Morgan Stanley Investor Pulse Poll was conducted via telephone interviews among 1,000 investors nationwide with $100,000 or more in investible assets and between the ages of 25 and 75.  The survey was conducted May through July 2014.  The overall survey sample has a margin of error of +/- 3.0 percentage points, and is higher for subgroups.

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, a global leader, provides access to a wide range of products and services to individuals, businesses and institutions, including brokerage and investment advisory services, financial and wealth planning, banking and lending, cash management, annuities and insurance, retirement and trust services.

Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is a leading global financial services firm providing investment banking, securities, investment management and wealth management services.  With offices in more than 43 countries, the Firm's employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals.  For more information about Morgan Stanley, please visit

Media Relations Contacts:

Jim Wiggins, 914.225.6161

Christy Jockle, 914.225.6827

©2014 Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC.  Member SIPC

CRC 1000882 09/2014