Morgan Stanley exec: Prepare now for the new wave of wealth



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Within the next 10 years or less, new wealth demographics will enter the market — and if they haven’t already, real estate agents need to start forging connections with those future clients now, Ileana Musa of Morgan Stanley told moderator Stephanie Anton and other attendees at Inman Connect Miami on Wednesday.

In the next few years, as baby boomers pass away and transfer their assets to younger generations, over $84 trillion in assets will go into the hands of millennials, Gen Zers and Zoomers, Musa said. Thus, the time for both wealth asset managers and real estate agents alike to develop relationships with the younger generation is right now.

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“You have to start with them early,” Musa said, “when that next generation is coming into the wealth, because by the time they inherit the wealth, they’re going to be making decisions. And if you haven’t been at that table and you haven’t been engaged with them, they’re not going to choose you.”

In addition to being data- and market-savvy, agents can help forge those relationships by simply offering some more general advice about estate planning that shows the family you appreciate the bigger picture, Musa said.

“Oftentimes, folks think that this business is focused on investing and rate of return, but it has really evolved quite a bit to be advice-driven,” she said. “So you spend a lot of time not just thinking about the return on the portfolio, but building that road map for the family that includes the kids in terms of how you structure that wealth.”

“It’s not just the transaction — it’s the advice that the clients and the families value, because there’s no finish line in terms of the advice business,” she added. “Clients need it.”

During her own recent journey of buying one apartment and selling another in New York City, Musa said she found herself most drawn to agents who didn’t start the conversation off by asking if they could list her home, but rather those who were interested in educating her about market trends and inventory levels in her neighborhood.

“Because they were giving me guidance in terms of things I needed to know,” Musa said.

The generational shifts among foreign national investors also pose “a mammoth opportunity,” Musa added.

In the last 15 years, many foreign nationals shifted their investments to the U.S. after the common reporting standard was enacted. Under this standard, financial institutions were required to disclose who was doing business with them, because many foreign nationals place trust in U.S. financial systems, Musa explained.

Now, many of those families have students who have or are currently attending college in the U.S. and maturing into adulthood. Many of them will be preparing to make their first real estate transaction soon, too.

“Whether it’s a family spending time here, growing roots here, their kids are coming to school here, [there are] more and more real estate purchases,” Musa said.

Roughly $53 billion was spent by foreign nationals on real estate purchases in the U.S. between 2022 and 2023, Musa added, with about 50 percent of those coming from Latin America.

With the shift in wealth, agents need to consider how these emerging buyer pools think, and be sure that they can meet them where they’re at.

“So now you have to think, ‘OK, that next generation, how do they think?’” Musa said. “‘How do they make buying decisions?’ ‘Am I connected to them?’”

Women are also poised to emerge as a larger wealth demographic in upcoming years, Musa said, which is another factor that agents need to consider. Latinos are also now the majority-minority in the U.S., Musa added, and another demographic to forge connections with.

“One-third of the wealth in this country is owned by women,” Musa said. “But it’s going to be two-thirds by 2030. So, gentlemen, women will outlive you. So a lot of the work we do is, ‘Are you prepared?’”

As agents have meetings with their older clients, start looping the younger generation (and women) into the conversation, Musa suggested. If it’s by Zoom, simply ask if the kids are around and would like to listen in to get the ball rolling.

“By the second or third time you start to bring them in, they start to influence a decision on a sale that you’re ultimately going to make,” Musa said. “And as a result, you may end up getting a new client.”

At the end of the day, finding ways to advise beyond just the transaction will help agents gain trusted clients for life, Musa said.

“Finding creative ways to offer that advice beyond making a sale is the X factor.”

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Email Lillian Dickerson





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