UBS US wealth management tracking to triple adviser recruits: memo - Josh Loe

UBS US wealth management tracking to triple adviser recruits: memo


  • UBS, the world’s largest wealth manager by assets, is on track this year to triple the number of US-based financial adviser recruits that it hired in 2018, according to an internal memo reviewed by Business Insider.
  • The memo circulated on Monday highlighted that UBS had hired 10 advisers managing some $1.85 billion over the past month from firms including Wells Fargo and Merrill Lynch, as well as an adviser from JPMorgan in Florida.
  • Even as it’s bumped up recruitment from other firms, UBS’s total adviser headcount around the world has been dipping over the last year. In the US, headcount shrank by 4% in the third quarter compared to year-ago levels. 
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UBS, the world’s largest wealth manager by assets, is on track this year to triple the number of US-based financial adviser recruits that it hired in 2018, according to an internal memo reviewed by Business Insider.

Michael McVicker, a managing director and head of business and change management at UBS’s US wealth management’s unit, said in the memo circulated on Monday that the firm recently hired advisers from rivals including Wells Fargo and Merrill Lynch, as well as an adviser from JPMorgan in Florida.

It hired 10 reps around the country managing some $1.85 billion in the past month, including one Atlanta trio from Merrill Lynch overseeing $676 million in assets under management. That Atlanta team had trailing 12 months revenue of $4.9 million on assets under management of $676 million.

Of the 10 adviser hires flagged in the memo, one is a woman. 

Even as it has bumped up recruitment hires so far in 2019, UBS’s total adviser headcount both in the US and around the world has been dipping over the past year as advisers leave for competitors or retire.

In the US, headcount shrank by 4% to 6,627  at the end of the third quarter, down from from 6,910 advisers the same period a year earlier. Globally, total advisers fell to 10,118 from 10,556. US advisers oversee some $1.3 trillion in client assets. 

“In terms of wealth management hiring, as you’ve seen, overall, we’ve had a reduction in our FAs, and we’re very focused,” chief financial officer Kirt Gardner told analysts on the firm’s third-quarter earnings call last month. The firm has been zeroed in on advisers’ productivity over the sheer number of financial advisers, he said.

“We have a decent pipeline going forward, and that’s going to continue to be our focus,” Gardner added on the earnings call. “And yes, indeed, there is quite intense competition and including you see JPMorgan step up their game, and the regionals are competing quite a bit. But we still feel comfortable with our franchise and our strategy going forward.”

UBS, which scaled its investment-banking business back in the years following the financial crisis, has prioritized the US wealth market, and has sought to add assets and revive wealth-management margins there. 

In an August interview with Business Insider, John Mathews, who leads UBS’s private-wealth management and ultrahigh-net-worth business for the Americas, echoed that focus on productivity. He said the bank was comfortable with “the number we’re at now, and we actually think we’re probably even better with a few hundred less financial advisers.” 

More broadly, analysts say the wealth management industry is grappling with its own recruitment challenges and aging workforce.

Some 37% of advisers are expected to retire over the next decade, the industry research firm Cerulli Associates said in a report published earlier this month. The wirehouses (large full-service broker-dealers) are among the groups with the largest portion of advisers primed for retirement. At the end of 2017, the average adviser was 52 years old.



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