Morgan Stanley Access Investing

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • What is Morgan Stanley Access Investing?

    Morgan Stanley Access Investing (“Access Investing”) is a digital investment platform that helps you identify and invest in your financial goals, whether that means investing for retirement, building wealth, or saving for a major purchase.

    For clients who want a fully digital means of pursuing their goals, Access Investing is simple to use and backed by the intellectual capital and investment expertise of Morgan Stanley.

  • How do I know if it’s right for me?

    Morgan Stanley Access Investing is designed for people who are looking for a simple, easy way to invest online with Morgan Stanley.  

    It is a discretionary investment advisory account—which means we make financial decisions for you. Unlike a brokerage account where you authorize each trade, this account enables us to make trades on your behalf when we believe that doing so is in your best interest.

    Access Investing is a digital platform, so all of your interactions with Morgan Stanley will be entirely online and through electronic communications. Your Morgan Stanley Access Investing account won’t be assigned an individual Financial Advisor or Financial Advisor team. If your financial situation is more complex, you might require a broader range of investment options, which are available through a full-service Morgan Stanley account, which includes the assistance of a Financial Advisor.

  • Do I have to invest a certain amount?

    The minimum investment for Morgan Stanley Access Investing is $5,000.

    If you plan to open a tax-advantaged account such as an IRA, please consider the IRS's annual contribution limits, which you can view on the IRS website.  Morgan Stanley does not provide tax or legal advice, so please visit or talk to your tax advisor to learn more about IRS contributions and eligibility.

  • What are your fees?

    The annual fee for Morgan Stanley Access Investing is 0.35% of assets under management. It's charged quarterly and based on your account balance, which means the actual amount could change over time as the value of your assets increase or decrease.

    There are no account service, transaction, or termination fees. However, for all investments in Mutual Funds and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), you will incur fees and expenses related to owning shares of a fund.  

    For more information, please refer to the Access Investing ADV Brochure and each fund’s prospectus.

  • Will I be charged fees for funds in my portfolio?

    You will pay the operating expenses on the mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs) in your portfolio. You will not be charged load or short-term redemption fees when mutual funds are bought and sold in your portfolio.

    For more information, please refer to the Access Investing ADV Brochure and each fund’s prospectus.

  • Can I talk to a Financial Advisor?

    Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors may not provide advice relating to Morgan Stanley Access Investing accounts. If you’re looking for professional guidance, you can open a separate full-service Morgan Stanley account with a Financial Advisor.

  • I have more questions – who can I talk to?

    You can call us at 1-866-479-1844.

  • How do I close an account?

    To close an account, or to ask questions about closing an account, call us at 1-866-479-1844.

    There will be no fees associated with closing your Morgan Stanley Access Investing account you will be entitled to a prorated refund of any pre-paid advisory fee based on the number of days remaining in the billing quarter after the termination date.

    Additionally, if you are closing a retirement account, the IRA termination fee will be waived. If you are transferring your assets out of Morgan Stanley using an ACAT as part of the account closure process, the ACAT fee will also be waived. 


  • What types of accounts can I open?

    We offer a few different kinds of Morgan Stanley Access Investing accounts*:

    o   Personal

    This is a Morgan Stanley Access Investing account owned by a single person. The main benefit of this type of account is flexibility: you can withdraw your cash when you choose. You'll pay taxes on any investment earnings.

    o   Traditional IRA

    Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are specifically designed for retirement savings. With a traditional IRA, your contributions are tax deductible--so you'll pay less in income taxes the year you make your contributions--and you won’t pay taxes on your earnings until you retire. (If you make withdrawals from an IRA earlier than your retirement age, you’ll pay taxes and penalties.)

    o   Roth IRA

    In a Roth IRA, your contributions are taxed upfront--so you don't get a tax break the year you contribute--but you won't pay taxes on your earnings when you retire. This could be a good option if you expect to pay a higher tax rate in the future than you do now (for example, if you expect your income to go up).

    Note: You may not be eligible to open a Roth IRA if your income is above a certain threshold.

    *Morgan Stanley does not provide tax or legal advice.  For more information on IRA contributions and eligibility you can go to

  • Can I open a new IRA?

    Yes, you can open a new individual retirement account (IRA) through Morgan Stanley Access Investing. To do so, create a Retirement goal, and select "Traditional IRA" or "Roth IRA" as your account type.  However, keep your IRA annual contribution limits in mind.  For more information on IRA contributions and eligibility you can go to

  • How do I fund an account?

    You can fund your Morgan Stanley Access Investing account in a few ways:

    o   Electronic transfer (ACH)

    o   Mobile check deposit

    o   Wire transfer (fees may apply)

    o   Rollover from a qualified plan

    o   Cash transfer from other Morgan Stanley accounts

    For more information on retirement plan rollovers, see our ADV Brochure. You can also transfer funds through ACH once your external bank account has been set up in our system. We support rollovers of cash from IRAs, 401(k)s and other qualified plans. 

  • Can I open multiple accounts?

    Yes, you can open multiple Morgan Stanley Access Investing accounts.

  • I live outside the United States. Can I open an account?

    Morgan Stanley Access Investing is only available to legal residents of the United States who are 18 years or older.


  • How will you determine my investment strategy?

    In order to recommend a suitable investment strategy, we use your investor profile, along with other goal parameters and market assumptions described in the Important Information disclosure. In addition to the goal you have selected, you also provided us with certain suitability attributes directly, such as your age and risk tolerance.

    We then assign to your investor profile certain other suitability attributes based upon the information you provide. More specifically, we determine your liquidity need and time horizon based upon the goal you selected and your age. Additionally, we assign an investment objective and primary financial need to the goal you specified. Finally, we will adjust these suitability attributes to align with your risk tolerance.

    Depending upon when your account is opened and funded with the minimum investment amount, actual funds invested in your account may differ from the funds referenced in your proposal. In most cases, your starting asset allocation will aim for higher returns in the near term by taking on more risk.

    Then, if you’ve set a goal with a target date, every quarter we will monitor your investment strategy and automatically adjust the risk as you get closer to your goal. We do this by changing your investment model, which results in a different asset allocation. For example, we would reduce risk by gradually taking on mutual funds or ETFs that have a lower proportion of equities and with a greater emphasis on generally safer fixed income.

    However, if you aren't comfortable with the level of risk in the investment model we recommend, you can always change it by choosing a less risky investment model. While we still reduce your risk over time, we won't put you in a model that's riskier than your risk tolerance or the investment model you selected.

    You can see the investment plan we've created for you at any time.

    For a more detailed description of the investment models we use, please refer to the Morgan Stanley ADV Brochure.

  • What is risk tolerance?

    Risk tolerance is personal. When you tell us how much risk you think you can handle, remember to consider how comfortable you are with short-term fluctuations in the value of your investments, as well as your longer-term investment goals.

     A conservative approach means that you’d rather err on the side of safety, even if that means accepting the potential for lower returns. If you choose an "aggressive" risk tolerance, you’re telling us you're willing to risk the possibility of greater losses in exchange for potentially greater returns in the long run.

  • How do you manage risk in my account?

    We analyze and modify your mix of investments to opportunistically reduce your overall portfolio risk profile. If you’ve set a goal with a target date, we dynamically adjust its asset allocation to maximize the likelihood that you'll meet your goal as your goal nears its end date and/or your account becomes better funded.

    However, if you aren't comfortable with the level of risk in the investment model we recommend, you can always change it by choosing a less risky investment model. While we still reduce your risk over time, we won't put you in a model that's riskier than your own tolerance or the investment model you selected.

    The Global Investment Committee provides a range of asset allocation models for various risk profiles. They are arranged from 1 through 5 in a general progression from conservative (Model 1) through moderate to aggressive (Model 5) risk profiles.  For a more detailed description of each investment model, please refer to the Morgan Stanley Access Investing ADV Brochure.

  • What is active and passive investing – and why might a blend be important?

    Active investing involves using human portfolio managers to harness research and their own experience to pick and choose investments. Generally speaking, the goal of active investing is to “beat the market” or outperform certain standard benchmarks.  If you’re a passive investor, however, your goal is to match the performance of certain market indexes, such as the S&P 500 Index. Because active investing is generally more expensive, many stock-pickers fail to beat the market by enough to offset their management costs.

    A mix of active and passive might be an appropriate strategy for some investors, while others may prefer all passive investments because of their tax efficiency, lower premiums, treatment of dividends and more. 

    Learn more
  • What is automatic rebalancing?

    Your portfolio is designed to have an ideal mix of different investments, which may "drift" over time due to contributions, withdrawals and market conditions.  

    We monitor your portfolio every day to see if your assets have drifted from our recommended range. If we determine that an adjustment is needed, we’ll automatically rebalance your investments to restore your portfolio to its target asset allocation and notify you that we have done so.

    Keep in mind that asset allocation, diversification and rebalancing do not assure a profit or protect against loss. Consult your tax advisor to understand potential tax implications before implementing a rebalancing strategy.

    Learn more
  • What is tax-loss harvesting?

    If you choose, Morgan Stanley Access Investing can monitor your account to find potential for tax-loss harvesting opportunities. When we find that you could lower your tax bill by harvesting losses, we’ll do it for you automatically. There are no trading costs to harvest your losses, and we’ll reinvest all the money we’ve “harvested” so you don’t lose out on market opportunities.

    Note that we’ll also aim to protect your Access Investing accounts against “wash sales,” an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rule that prohibits a taxpayer from claiming a loss on the sale or trade of a security under certain circumstances. According to the IRS, a wash sale occurs when you sell or trade stock or securities at a loss and within 30 days before or after the sale you buy substantially identical stock or securities. We’ll make sure that our buying and selling doesn’t inadvertently burden you with short-term capital gains tax.

    There is no guarantee that any harvesting request will achieve any particular tax result. Morgan Stanley does not provide you with any tax advice in connection with tax-loss harvesting. Tax-loss harvesting may adversely affect the investment performance of your account. Moreover, the wash sale protection describe above is only applicable to your Access Investing accounts. If you own any of the same securities in other brokerage accounts, you may be subject to wash sale rules.

    You can find more information about tax-loss harvesting in Morgan Stanley’s ADV Brochure.

    Learn more
  • How do you estimate the hypothetical growth of my investment?

    In order to formulate our capital market assumptions, we look at the past performance of relevant indices which are used as a proxy for each of the asset classes that would be invested in your Morgan Stanley Access Investing portfolio.

    We base the graph on the initial and ongoing contribution amounts you told us you would invest, as well as the projected performance of your current investment model. We apply a constant rate of inflation to your future contributions. To keep things simple, our forecast assumes that your investments will be held in a taxable account, because it gives us the most conservative view of potential growth over time and that you're not going to make any withdrawals until your goal's end date.

    To project the hypothetical portfolio growth, we run thousands of simulations, using different rates of return, to forecast which outcomes appear the most likely. The graph represents the estimated outcomes for multiple scenarios, ranging from "Unfavorable Market Conditions” (85% likelihood) to "Favorable Market Conditions" (15% likelihood). The solid center line represents the potential outcome for your investment in "Average Market Conditions" (50% likelihood). The Total Projected Amount shown above the graph corresponds to the “Average Market Conditions” scenario.

    If your selected goal is to retire or grow your money, all hypothetical projected values are expressed in real, or inflation adjusted, terms. That is, they exclude the effect of inflation over time. Even though you may not plan to withdraw from your portfolio for many years, we do this because it is easier to understand your projected amount in the context of what it could buy you in today’s dollars. For all other goals, we show you hypothetical projected values in nominal terms – that is, they are not inflation adjusted.

    This is not a guarantee but an estimate given the information you provided and the analysis above. Please refer to the Important Information at the bottom of this page for a more detailed description of our methodology.

    You can find more information about our methodology in Morgan Stanley’s ADV Brochure.

  • How will I know if my investments are on track?

     “On track” is a personal measurement that comes down to your individual situation and unique goals. There are many factors, which include capital market performance, your own contributions and which specific goal you are saving toward. You will be alerted if you are at risk of missing your goals. 

    Learn more


  • What do you mean by ‘financial goals’?

    When thinking about your money, the most important question is: What do you want to do?

    Morgan Stanley Access Investing is built around the things that matter most to you--like retirement or building your long-term wealth. Every account is structured around a specific goal, enabling you to invest with the appropriate level of risk for each.

    You can create goals including:

    ‐          Buy a home

    ‐          Plan a wedding

    ‐          Retire

    ‐          Grow your money

    ‐          Start a business

    ‐          Pay for education

    ‐          Buy a car

    ‐          Any other major purchase you plan to make

  • How do you calculate how much I’ll need in retirement?

    To estimate how much money you'll want to "make" each year you're retired, we think about how much you need in order to maintain your lifestyle when you stop working. Instead of just guessing at this number by applying inflation to your current income, we dig deeper.

    First, based upon your current annual income, we estimate how much you might be earning at the time you retire, using historical income growth data from the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Then, we look at data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey for a picture of how you’ll likely spend while retired. Based on that data, we'll suggest a target annual retirement income to comfortably maintain your lifestyle. This is only a recommendation: You can revise this amount higher to spend on more "extras" like travel and luxury items or lower if you plan to be more frugal.

  • Can I change my goal anytime?

    You can't change the type of goal (for example, transforming a Retirement goal into a Build Wealth goal) after opening an account, but you can create a new account and set up a new goal any time.

  • Can I open a State Tuition Plan account?

    Morgan Stanley Access Investing accounts are managed by Morgan Stanley. Since 529 plans are sponsored by a state or educational institution, investing in a 529 plan within Morgan Stanley Access Investing is not currently available. You may want to separately consider a 529 Plan or other tax-exempt investment options. You can read more about 529 plans here.

  • How do I set up a recurring IRA contribution?

    You can set up a recurring IRA contribution for your Retirement goal by navigating to your Goal Details. From there, you can set up a monthly deposit, review your new projections, and save to continue. Then, select “Schedule Deposit” and following the on-screen instructions.


  • How will my portfolio be created?

    We recommend and manage a portfolio for you based on a number of different factors, including:

    Your risk tolerance: How comfortable are you with taking on financial risk? We’ll ask you questions to help gauge your risk appetite, and use that information to suggest one of five risk levels for your portfolio.

    Your goal: Are you saving for retirement? For a major purchase like a new home? We’ll base our investment strategy and dynamically adjust your levels of risk based on the kind of goal you’re working toward.

    Your time horizon: How long do you have before you’ll need your money back? Generally speaking, the more time you have, the longer you’ll have to potentially earn back any market losses; the less time you have, the more conservative you’ll likely want to be, to protect against losing your capital. We’ll use this information to recommend and manage a portfolio fitted to your timelines. 

    We offer portfolio choices based on your objectives and preferences - you can align your investments with your values, opt for a research-driven strategy that seeks to maximize returns, or focus on minimizing fees.

    You can also choose to set aside a portion of your overall portfolio toward a theme that focuses on a particular market trend or investment idea, like investing in gender diversity or next-wave technology.

    Learn more about our portfolios
  • What are themes or thematic investments?

    How you invest is as important as why you invest. Morgan Stanley Access Investing lets you choose from a variety of investing strategies that align with the things you care about. 

    We offer portfolio choices based on your objectives and preferences - you can align your investments with your values, opt for a research-driven strategy that seeks to maximize returns, or focus on minimizing fees.

    You can also choose to set aside a portion of your overall portfolio toward a theme that focuses on a particular market trend or investment idea, like investing in gender diversity or next-wave technology.   

    So, for example, if you've chosen the Defense & Cybersecurity theme, we won't invest 100% of your portfolio in those industries, because that wouldn't be balanced or diversified. Instead, we'll invest a certain proportion in our core diversified strategy, and then invest an added percentage in Defense & Cybersecurity 

    You can find more information about how we build traditional and themed portfolios in Morgan Stanley’s ADV Brochure.

    Learn more
  • What themes can I choose from?

    Our themes fall into several categories:

    o   Social impact: Support companies with strong track records on the environment, gender diversity and other social issues.

    o   Next-wave technology: Want to invest in robots? Automation? Digital security? Put your money behind the tech industries of the future.

    o   Global economics: From emerging markets to less-developed countries on the global frontier, you can invest in our changing world.

    o   Health care innovation: Invest in the industry that impacts all of us, from general wellness to high-tech fields like genomics and personalized medicine.

    Learn more

Get started today with Access Investing

NEED HELP? CALL US AT 1-866-479-1844