Early this year, a New York State Lottery winner in Brooklyn approached Morgan Stanley with a problem: he needed to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars before he collected his prize money.
The man, a Russian immigrant, wanted money to help move his family to a secure location before he redeemed his ticket and possibly became famous, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He also wanted advice about what to do with his prize money, which was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The bank's wealth management unit decided to make the loan to win a new customer, a step it is increasingly willing to make as it builds up its brokerage unit.
Making unusual loans is critical for Morgan Stanley. The bank has bet its future in large part on its wealth management business, which produces more stable revenue than the trading unit that nearly wiped out Morgan Stanley during the financial crisis. Providing unconventional loans is a reliable way to win customers, and keep them.
Morgan Stanley is playing catch-up against rivals including JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup Inc, Deutsche Bank AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, which offer loans collateralized by everything from art collections to cases of wine.
Industry sources said they had never heard of a loan against a lottery ticket, though they cited other examples of atypical collateral that other banks have loaned against, including a client in Texas who borrowed against the future offspring of his prize bulls, and a client who borrowed against future ticket sales of a professional sports team he owned.
"We've got 3 million clients, and they've got borrowing needs," Eric Heaton, who runs Morgan Stanley's private bank, said in an interview.
Reuters attempted to track down the Lotto winner by the description provided by sources familiar with the matter but was unable to confirm his identity.
Tailored loans are lucrative for the bank, which can help Morgan Stanley reach its profitability targets for wealth management. Morgan Stanley's pretax profit margin target is 22 percent to 25 percent by the end of next year, compared with a current level of 20.6 percent, assuming interest rates do not rise.
To spearhead Morgan Stanley's efforts to build up what it calls "tailored lending," the bank hired a team from Deutsche Bank led by Marcus Mitchell. Although Morgan Stanley has been making these loans since 2010, it is ramping up its efforts