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Industry Spotlight > Women in Wealth

UBS Advisor's Rules: No Account Minimums, No Jerks

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UBS senior portfolio manager Jason Katz has no minimum — but he’s outright picky. When it comes to prized high-profile athletes and famous entertainers — his client niche — the welcome mat isn’t out for everyone.

“We have a ‘no-jerk’ policy. I turn down very large opportunities all the time if I think that, from a value, integrity or communication perspective, we’re not going to hit it off,” Katz, a managing director, tells ThinkAdvisor in an interview.

With a roster of sports and entertainment stars, plus behind-the-scenes showbiz clients, the 17-member Katz Wealth Management, based in Midtown Manhattan, has $2.8 billion in assets under management. Typical account size ranges from $5 million to $15 million.

Katz, New York State’s top high-net-worth advisor for 2019, according to Forbes, helps both established and up-and-comer clients manage finances and invest to make their money last throughout their often long post-career retirement years.

Baseball, football and basketball players, together with younger entertainers, are in serious need of getting financially literate. Katz, 49, helps provide that by presenting players with a “game plan” of four possible scenarios to determine their appropriate financial path.

He became an advisor 27 years ago right after graduation from Boston University. Except for a short stint at Oppenheimer, he has been with UBS and its predecessor PaineWebber — where he trained — his entire career.

Katz built his practice largely via seminars, then by pursuing centers of influence distinctive to athletes and entertainment-industry people.

Recently, he signed a new pop artist, age 23.

“We want to grow with these [young] people and manage their wealth over the years,” he says. “In my industry, there’s no reason to retire if you enjoy what you’re doing. It’s not like I’ll turn 65, and I’m done.”

Here are highlights of our interview:

THINKADVISOR: Do you ever turn down athletes and entertainment industry people who want to work with you?

JASON KATZ: Absolutely. If you’re a jerk, it doesn’t matter how high-profile you are or what you do in life. We have a no-jerk policy.

Do famous athletes ever refuse to take your advice?

Despite our counsel of “Hey, you might not be here for the long run,” a client bought a home in the city in which he played, and enhanced and renovated it in a unique way: He built a barbershop and a bowling alley in it. Sure enough, he was traded. He had a difficult time reselling the house and got nowhere near the money he put into it.

Have you a minimum account size?

No. I have a minimum in terms of the quality of the client: I want to deal with transparent, fair, reasonable people. They don’t always have to be in a good mood, or nice. But they need to be open-minded, and we need to be able to communicate.

What’s a problem celebrities have concerning their money? 

People that have their ear who try to give them advice — friends, family, coaches. They either have an ax to grind and want something out of the relationship or else, even when their heart’s in the right place, they’re just not well-versed enough to give them financial advice.

What’s your key strength in dealing with athletes?

We tell them: Let’s have a little game plan: bad case, good case, great case, best case scenarios. Bad case scenario: You have one contract and suffer a career-ending injury. Best case scenario: You have multiple contracts, a post-playing career coaching or in TV and major endorsements. We do a probability analysis of achieving their goals. Then they can say, “OK, I’m on the path for Scenario 1, 2, 3 or 4.” It empowers them to, with our help, make the right decisions.

How did you start building your practice?

I began with cold calling. At a time when lots of people were working at shops like Stratton Oakmont and making a lot of money by taking shortcuts, I viewed [becoming financially successful] as a marathon, not a race.

Jordan “Wolf of Wall Street” Belfort co-founded Stratton Oakmont.  You were you aware of him back then?

Of course. I [was raised] in the town where that firm was located. A lot of people I grew up with, or who were a little older than I, landed at firms like his. When I got into the industry, it dawned on me that people who weren’t good students or model citizens were making ungodly amounts of money at an incredibly young age. I knew something had to be amiss, which was a telltale sign for me not to even consider going down that road.

What approach did you take in cold calling?

I wanted to build relationships. Instead of calling with one stock idea, I’d bring a basket of ideas so my fate wouldn’t hinge on the outcome of one stock. And instead of calling some of the people to buy stocks, I called for appointments to meet them.

Why did you want to be a financial advisor?

When I graduated from [Boston University] in 1992, I had a lot of job offers in sales. But my father, who I’d worked for during summers in his commercial real estate business, said, “You’re the kind of guy that needs to stake his own claim — you need to eat what you kill because you have the ability to communicate and relate to people.” I was always interested in finance and the markets. So my dad and I agreed that I give Wall Street a shot. I found my calling literally on Day One of work and never looked back.

You completed several triathlons. How do you exercise nowadays?

I play tennis four days a week, swim once a week, box once a week and try to get in a round of golf once a week. I coach my son’s basketball team. I’m a wannabe athlete!

Do you watch the TV series, “Ballers,” about guys giving financial advice to NFL players?

I love it. That show is pure and utter entertainment. It’s completely detached from the reality of working with athletes and managing their money.

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