Morgan Stanley: Positioning to Be the Sustainability Finance Leader (pdf abstract)

Purchase the full report on GlobaLens (Case study # 1-429-376)– published 02/2014, 16 pages.
Developed by: Carole Kerrey, Andrea Kraus (’16), Brian Rassel (’16), and Jorge Rivera  under the supervision of Andrew Hoffman

DESCRIPTION: The “Morgan Stanley: Positioning to Be the Sustainability Finance Leader” case is an instructional tool for analyzing what role the investment banking (IB) sector should play in catalyzing social and environmental impact. After detailing how investment banks capitalized some of the major industrial developments in the United States in the early 1900s, the case asks readers to consider whether IB firms can and should now become major drivers of sustainable development. In order to ground this question in an exploration of real business strategy, the case follows IB leader Morgan Stanley, which in 2013 made the biggest pledge to the impact investing movement. The case explores Morgan Stanley’s motivations, rollout plan, and competitors’ strategies. This case was written under the supervision of Andrew Hoffman, director of the Erb Institute, by graduate students Carole Kerrey, Andrea Kraus (’16) , Brian Rassel (’16), and Jorge Rivera at the University of Michigan.


    After reading and discussing this case, students should be able to:

  • Understand how and when a business might seek to use sustainability to create comparative advantage in the marketplace.
  • Understand the role of the visionary leader, and a non-traditional leader, at effecting major strategic change.
  • Understand how finance, ever the great villain of capitalism, plays a critical role in the advancement of sustainability and creates supports for sustainable enterprise.
  • Understand the circumstances and actions that will make a foray into sustainability either credible or undermined by distrust.
  • Understand the role of leadership in effecting strategic change that may not initially appear to be core to the business.