On the face of it, Morgan Stanley (MS) and MetLife (MET) may not seem to have a lot in common; one is a premier investment that was hit hard by the financial crisis and is still bouncing back, while the other is perhaps the best known life insurance company in the country. Yet under the surface the two firms share the same basic mechanism for earning profits; asset management.
Let me explain. MetLife's business is all about taking in money from consumers and in return, providing those consumers with a "return" in the form of insurance (the firm is probably best known for life insurance, but it sells many other forms of insurance also). Thus MetLife's goal is to manage these insurance premiums so as to earn the maximum possible risk adjusted return, and the higher the rate of return the firm earns, the bigger its profits are.