Below is a look at some changes major distributors have made to their platforms this month that may have flown under your radar, collected from Distributor Profiles, a service of sister publications Ignites and FundFire.

Morgan Stanley Simplifies UMA Program Fees

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management has simplified the fee structure of its unified managed accounts program, known as Select UMA.

The company has done so by combining its overlay manager and investment advisory fees into a single Morgan Stanley advisory fee, according to a recent filing.

Under the new fee structure, the company has kept unchanged a maximum annual asset-based fee at 2%.

The company has removed the previously separate annual overlay manager fee of up to 0.07%.

Meanwhile, the company will continue to charge separate sub-manager and platform fees.

The company charges a separate annual fee — from 0.20% to 0.75% — for separately managed accounts that covers sub-manager services. That’s on top of an annual asset-based platform fee of 0.0354%, which is charged quarterly for certain investment products, such as separately managed accounts, mutual funds, or exchange-traded funds.

Merrill Gaining More Clients Under 40

Merrill Lynch has gained more households led by investors under the age of 40 in the first half of 2022 compared to the entire year of 2017, according to wealth management head Andy Sieg.

Younger clients have been responding strongly to financial planning products enhancements and fiduciary offerings, Sieg told reporters earlier this month.

Merrill added 11,400 net new household clients in the first half of the year, five times the pace of the first half of 2016 or 2017, according to Sieg. Additionally, the average new client size is $1.7 million per household, up 18% year-over-year, he said.

Morningstar Acquires Aquantix

Morningstar has acquired climate-risk provider Aquantix to cater to real estate investors’ increasing demand for climate-related information.

The Toronto-based company uses artificial intelligence to assess the impacts of climate change on about half a billion residential and commercial properties in 180 countries.

The merger brings 10 professionals to Morningstar Sustainalytics' climate solution team of 90.

The deal also gives Aquantix access to a partnership with real estate registry data provider Teranet. Teranet integrates Aquantix property-level climate risk data that federally regulated financial institutions and regulators can use.

Aquantix's clients are real estate managers, banks, lenders and regulators. Clients access information such as expected losses to properties due to climate change, probability of climate disasters, severe climate change impact on property valuations, and worst-case losses to mortgages, according to a Morningstar Sustainalytics spokesperson.

The data is used for risk-based pricing, stress testing, regulatory policy guidance, marketing, and business development.

Envestnet Creates ESG Group Head Role

Envestnet has appointed Ron Ransom as the firm's first group head of its environmental, social and governance office.

Ransom reports to chief business operations officer Dawn Newsome.

In his new role, Ransom will centralize ongoing efforts and lead firmwide ESG programs and policies, according to Envestnet. He will also lead the ESG office in building solid relationships in the communities where Envestnet operates and working with divisions across the company.

Ransom was previously the firm's chief business development officer, a role that hasn’t been filled but instead spread throughout the organization, according to a spokesperson.

Raymond James Rebrands Asset Mgmt Unit

Raymond James says it has rebranded its asset management unit, Carillon Tower Advisers, to Raymond James Investment Management.

The unit's affiliates will retain their brands. These include Chartwell Investment Partners, ClariVest Asset Management, Cougar Global Investments, Eagle Asset Management, Reams Asset Management and Scout Investments.

The rebranding isn’t expected to impact the operations, portfolio management, or independence of the investment teams, according to Raymond James.

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