From the November 2009 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

Robert McCann Goes to UBS as Merrill Lynch Re-Launches Brand

As of the end of the second quarter, Merrill Lynch had some 15,000 financial advisors vs. about 7,950 at UBS.

After several months of speculation and a legal dispute with his former employer, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Robert J. McCann is now CEO of UBS Wealth Management Americas. McCann, the former head of Merrill's wealth-management operations, will also become a member of the group executive board of Swiss-based UBS AG.

"Coming to UBS is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join a leading global wealth manager. It is a firm that I always considered to be a tough competitor and I will add my energy and ideas to the turnaround underway," says McCann, who spent 26 years at Merrill Lynch. "The domestic Americas business represents an enormous wealth management opportunity for UBS. I see tremendous long-term potential growth for clients, employees and shareholders."

McCann, 51, immediately assumes responsibility for UBS' wealth management businesses in the United States and Canada, including all international business booked in the US. He will lead nearly 8,000 financial advisors in more than 320 branches across the US, Puerto Rico and Canada, managing about $681 billion in invested assets.

"I am confident that his proven ability to meet client needs, manage businesses and develop financial advisors will drive UBS Wealth Management Americas to a higher level of performance and return for all stakeholders," says UBS Group CEO Oswald Gruebel.

In its second-quarter 2009 results, UBS reported that there were 7,939 advisors in the Americas, down from 8,760 in the previous quarter and 8,555 a year earlier. And the group reported net inflows of negative $5 billion in the most recent quarter of 2009, after seeing outflows of $8 billion in the second quarter of 2008.

"In the Americas alone, the wealth management market opportunity represents high net worth assets in excess of $20 trillion. Under Bob's leadership, I believe that the business will now consolidate its position as the firm of choice for those clients seeking a fully integrated offering of diverse products and tailored advisory services," Gruebel explains.

Bloomberg news is reporting that McCann plans to tone down some of UBS' recruiting tactics by not offering advisors the highest bids on the market. It also says that Marten Hoekstra, whom McCann is replacing, has left the firm.

In late 2008, according to Bloomberg, some advisors were offered as much as 260 percent of revenue (sales/commissions) to come over to UBS.

Industry experts speculate that McCann may focus on getting some or all of the brokerage business ready for sale. Earlier this year, UBS agreed to sell some branch offices to Stifel Nicolaus.After several months of speculation and a legal dispute with his former employer, Robert J. McCann is now CEO of UBS Wealth Management Americas. McCann, the former head of Bank of America's Merrill Lynch wealth management operations, will also become a member of the group executive board of Swiss-based UBS AG.

"Coming to UBS is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join a leading global wealth manager. It is a firm that I always considered to be a tough competitor and I will add my energy and ideas to the turnaround underway," says McCann, who spent 26 years at Merrill Lynch. "The domestic Americas business represents an enormous wealth management opportunity for UBS. I see tremendous long-term potential growth for clients, employees and shareholders."

McCann, 51, immediately assumes responsibility for UBS' wealth management businesses in the United States and Canada, including all international business booked in the US. He will lead nearly 8,000 financial advisors in more than 320 branches across the US, Puerto Rico and Canada, managing about $681 billion in invested assets.

"I am confident that his proven ability to meet client needs, manage businesses and develop financial advisors will drive UBS Wealth Management Americas to a higher level of performance and return for all stakeholders," says UBS Group CEO Oswald Gruebel.

In its second-quarter 2009 results, UBS reported that there were 7,939 advisors in the Americas, down from 8,760 in the previous quarter and 8,555 a year earlier. And the group reported net inflows of negative $5 billion in the most recent quarter of 2009, after seeing outflows of $8 billion in the second quarter of 2008.

"In the Americas alone, the wealth management market opportunity represents high net worth assets in excess of $20 trillion. Under Bob's leadership, I believe that the business will now consolidate its position as the firm of choice for those clients seeking a fully integrated offering of diverse products and tailored advisory services," Gruebel explains.

Bloomberg news is reporting that McCann plans to tone down some of UBS' recruiting tactics by not offering advisors the highest bids on the market. It also says that Marten Hoekstra, whom McCann is replacing, has left the firm.

In late 2008, according to Bloomberg, some advisors were offered as much as 260 percent of revenue (sales/commissions) to come over to UBS.

Industry experts speculate that McCann may focus on getting some or all of the brokerage business ready for sale. Earlier this year, UBS agreed to sell some branch offices to Stifel Nicolaus.

Meanwhile, Bank of American has re-introduced the Merrill Lynch Wealth Management brand, after announcing the retirement of CEO and President Ken Lewis and the planned sale of certain units of Columbia Management to Ameriprise.

In addition to its brand re-launch, BofA has introduced "Affluent Insights Quarterly," a new Merrill Lynch Wealth Management survey of values, financial priorities and concerns of affluent Americans, and BofA plans an upcoming launch of the new "help2" Merrill Lynch marketing campaign.

"Merrill Lynch Wealth Management exemplifies the positive relationships that our financial advisors forge with clients," says Sallie Krawcheck, president of BofA's global wealth and investment management operations.

As revealed by its new quarterly survey, a relationship with a trusted financial advisor, someone who listens to and understands his clients' personal needs and values, is among the highest financial priorities of affluent Americans, Merrill explains.

Forty-eight percent of those surveyed currently work with a financial advisor (Merrill Lynch or another). Of those, respondents expect their financial advisor to understand their personal values when it comes to investing (80 percent) and are satisfied with their current financial advisor (79 percent).

The help2 campaign officially launched Oct. 5 and runs through the end of December.


On December 31, Ken Lewis -- who has been CEO since 2001 -- will retire after 40 years with BofA. BofA says it plans to have a successor in place by that time.

As of the end of the second quarter, Merrill Lynch had some 15,000 financial advisors vs. about 7,950 at UBS.

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