March 26, 2012

UBS Streamlines McCann’s Leadership Team

Mulholland, Cochran and others get more advisor-focused responsibility

UBS Americas (UBS) trimmed a layer of management under CEO Robert McCann (left) and increased the duties of some of wealth-management leaders, according to a memo released by McCann on Friday. Experts say the restructuring should prove positive for UBS’ advisor force, which stands at about 7,000 reps in the Americas.

“The removal of the duplicative layer of regional sales management is the most powerful step, bringing senior executives closer to the line, cutting costs and streamlining decision making,” said Chip Roame, managing partner of the consulting firm Tiburon Strategic Advisors, in an interview with AdvisorOne. “The wirehouses all had gotten very thick in their organizations. This is the right move; I am impressed.”

The new leadership means that there will be fewer direct reports to McCann. He will still chair the executive committee of Wealth Management Americas, and its members are generally taking on more responsibility, which should allow McCann to focus on his tasks as head of UBS Americas.

McCann was made head of UBS’ operations in the Americas on December 1, 2011, after serving as head of UBS’ Wealth Management America (WMA) unit since October 2009. Robert Mulholland, McCann's top lieutenant at UBS who runs the advisor force’s field operations, is now in charge of investment products and platforms.

The new structure, Roame (right) says, means that McCann elevates himself and gives Mulholland more responsibility for the core business, both sales and products. “Mulholland, who came with McCann from Merrill Lynch, moves from being narrowly the sales head to more of a business head,” the consultant explained.

Jason Chandler, for instance, moves from running the ultra-high-net-worth business to running sales in the mainstream business, according to Roame. “This is a clear step one likely must take in the line of promotion,” he said.

Dan Cochran, now COO for WMA, becomes the firm’s chief control officer, and all COOs for the WMA business lines will have accountability to him; he was previously chief administrative officer for WMA. “Cochran seems to have taken a large step up the chain,” Roame said. “The next generation of leaders are emerging, further signaling commitment to this business.”

In addition, Paula Polito, formerly chief marketing officer, is becoming chief strategy officer. She will continue to be in charge of marketing while focusing on the unit’s emerging-affluent segment and retirement services business.

“This is a vote of confidence for McCann and his lieutenants and recognition of what they’ve accomplished so far,” said executive-search consultant Mark Elzweig (left), in an interview. “They took over a low-morale firm that was bleeding advisors and transformed into an attractive destination for many. They've made a number of impressive new hires. Their newly expanded responsibilities give MCann's team oversight not just of the retail salesforce but of the brokerage platform as well."

Revenue in the quarter ended Dec. 30 for WMA was $1.46 billion, down 4% from last year but up 2% from the third quarter. For the fourth quarter, UBS says it had the highest revenue (or fees and commissions) per financial advisor in the industry at $842,000, as well as the highest invested assets per FA and net new money per rep.

“All of these leaders are exceptional individuals, and together with you, represent the future of WMA and our ability to deliver for clients,” McCann said in the memo. “I look forward to speaking with all of you at an Americas Town Hall with [UBS Group CEO] Sergio Ermotti on April 3, where I will discuss the new Americas Executive Committee and our strategy for the region.”

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