You can contribute 1% to 50% of your base salary, cash bonus (if applicable) and commissions or incentive compensation (if applicable). You may set different percentages for each type of pay and adjust those rates throughout the year. If you wish to increase the amount you contribute each year, set up auto-escalate.

There are two ways to contribute:

  • Before-tax contributions – Your contributions are deducted before taxes are taken from your paycheck; you won’t pay federal income taxes, and, in most cases, state income tax, on the money in your account until you take it out.
  • Roth after-tax contributions – Your contributions are deducted after taxes are taken from your paycheck. Generally, investment earnings on these contributions aren’t taxed when you take your money out.

You have the option to convert all or a portion of your non-Roth 401(k) account balances to a Roth 401(k) account within the plan. If you choose to make an in-plan conversion, you will owe taxes currently on the before-tax amount you convert. Thereafter, your Roth 401(k) account, including any investment earnings, is tax-free, as long as you meet the Roth distribution requirements.

The Company Match

The Firm matches a portion of your paycheck contributions, dollar for dollar, based on your eligible pay (up to the IRS limits — see below).

Your Eligible PayCompany Match

$100k to $275k2Up to 5%
>$275kUp to 4%3

1Excludes Financial Advisors and Branch Management.
2Excludes Advisory Directors and Senior Advisors.
3The 2024 IRS limit on employee compensation for calculating contributions is $345,000.
4Up to 4%, plus an additional non-matching 2% fixed contribution

Here’s what you need to know about the company match:

  • Your before-tax and Roth after-tax contributions are matched; however, catchup and regular non-Roth after-tax contributions are not.
  • You must be employed by the Firm on December 31 to receive that year’s match (except if you retire or your employment ends due to release, disability or death).
  • The annual Firm match is contributed to your 401(k) account as a lump sum typically at the end of January.
  • If you leave the Firm, your paycheck contributions are always yours to keep, regardless of your tenure. You are fully vested in company contributions after three years of service. Note: If you’re transferring to the US from another Morgan Stanley location, your previous service with the Firm counts toward the three-year vesting requirement.

Annual Contribution Limits

The annual IRS limits apply to contributions you make to all 401(k) plans. So, if you contributed to another 401(k) plan this year, you must consider this to ensure you don’t exceed the IRS annual maximum.

Annual IRS limits also apply when mixing before-tax and Roth after-tax contributions in 2024:

  • Age 49 and below – Your contributions are limited to $23,000.
  • Age 50 (by December 31 this year) or older– You are allowed additional catchup contributions up to $7,500 for a total of $30,500.

You may make after-tax, non-Roth contributions beyond the IRS limits and benefit from low plan fees. For 2024, total employer and employee 401(k) contributions may not exceed $68,000 for those under age 49 and $75,500 for those 50 and older.

Changing Your Contribution Amounts

To change your contribution amounts, visit the Morgan Stanley Benefits Center website and go to: Savings and Retirement > 401(k) Savings Plan > Change Contributions and designate the rate of pay by pay type. If you want to set your contributions to increase automatically, you can set your initial contribution rates and then enter annual increase and target rate percentages.

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