On Monday, speculation continued as to whom would permanently replace former UBS CEO Oswald J. Gruebel, who resigned from the bank early Saturday, and what changes were in store for its investment bank and other operations. For UBS (UBS) financial advisors, such uncertainty means they must field sensitive calls from clients while dealing with a difficult climate for prospecting and giving at least some consideration to their career options, recruiters say.
There is the overall perception that UBS’ wealth-management operations are its crown jewel, says Mindy Diamond (left), head of Diamond Consultants. “And UBS advisors should only be proud of what they do. But if you talk with them, it’s a tough time. They’re on the frontline and being asked by prospects and clients to defend the firm, which is hard to do if you don’t believe in it,” she said in an interview with AdvisorOne.
This can really hurt advisor efficiency, Diamond says, “If you have to spend half your time answering calls from nervous clients and bout the stability of UBS, the stability of their assets and checks and balances at the firm.”
In some ways, it’s reminiscent of 2008-2009. “It’s an awful thing to be tasked with … and advisors are still reeling from that period. It’s just one knock after another,” explained Diamond, who recruits for wirehouse rival Morgan Stanley and other clients.
U.S. advisors at UBS have been upbeat about the firm over the past two years or so under the leadership of former Merrill wealth-management executives Bob McCann (left) and Bob Mulholland. “But can McCann stave off another round of attrition? Who knows?” stressed Diamond.
UBS advisors genuinely liked Gruebel, she says, thanks to his extensive roots at Credit Suisse and other factors.
As for recruiting, the attractive packages offered by UBS–which has some 6,800 advisors–may look good on paper, but it’s also part of the problem, says recruiter Rick Peterson of Peterson & Associates.
This type of negative publicity and uncertainty over leadership and operations can bring recruiting to “an absolute standstill,” Peterson said in an interview. “No one wants to go to a firm with such uncertainty on the table, in my opinion.”