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Industry Spotlight > Wirehouse Firms

UBS Wealth Reshuffles Management in UHNW Push  

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What You Need to Know

  • Management changes announced by the wirehouse Thursday take effect Jan. 1.
  • The firm’s also shifting more of its focus to Florida and Texas as more wealthy clients move there.
  • “Today we are taking the next step in building on that momentum and transforming our business,” said Jason Chandler, head of Wealth Management USA.

UBS Wealth Management is reshuffling its U.S. leadership team as part of an effort to expand its market share among ultra-high-net-worth investors, according to a memo provided to ThinkAdvisor.

The firm is “focused on our clients [who] are becoming wealthier, more diverse and younger,” Jason Chandler, UBS head of Wealth Management USA, said in the internal memo sent Thursday.

“We’re also seeing unprecedented shifts in where wealth is increasingly concentrated,” according to Chandler.

A significant number of clients have moved from New York to Florida and from California to Texas, UBS says, and some advisors are following their clients and rivals down south. While a certain number of advisors have decided to split their time between Florida and the New York metro area, others are creating multi-location teams to expand their client coverage.

These trends have led UBS to sharpen its focus on where wealth is growing fastest and adopt a national strategy to serve clients. Thus, the wirehouse decided to simplify and flatten its management structure — effective Jan. 1 — in an effort to achieve faster decision-making and overall better service. As of Sept. 30, UBS had 6,257 advisors in the Americas.

Rival Merrill Lynch announced in 2021 that it was “increasing staffing levels in select higher growth regions including Florida,” compensation consultant Andrew Tasnady, managing partner of Tasnady Associates, explained in an interview Friday.

Bank of America’s wealth management division ramped up its efforts to serve rich clients in Florida with a goal of doubling the number of its wealth advisers in the Sunshine State, the firm said last year.

BofA’s Merrill unit increased its private-wealth advisory staff by 40% in Florida, and remained on track to double its coverage in the “medium term,” Andy Sieg, president of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, said at the time.

“Reducing numbers of markets and flattening management is a common move and provides the benefit of lower management costs as it usually reduces the numbers of management,” Tasnady explained. “And advisors always like closer connections (and fewer levels) to the senior execs.”

Leadership Changes

“We’ve made tremendous progress on our journey to being the premier wealth manager focused on serving HNW/UHNW clients” in the U.S., Chandler said in the memo, first reported by Reuters.

“Today we are taking the next step in building on that momentum and transforming our business,” Chandler said. “Our shared goals are to better serve our clients, to be a more responsive and more agile organization, and to capture the growth that’s at the heart of our firm’s global strategy.”

As part of the reshuffling, John Mathews will become division director, U.S. Wealth Management, and will continue to lead Private Wealth Management, which will expand to 10 markets nationwide from six. He’ll also have “additional responsibility for our wealth management business surrounding each of those major cities,” according to Chandler.

Jennifer Povlitz will become division director, U.S. Wealth Management, and be responsible for growing the reach and impact of UBS’ wealth management business in 10 growth markets surrounding key metropolitan areas. Rick Gonzalez will continue to lead UBS International.

Across U.S. Wealth Management, the company will have 20 markets, each led by a market executive. Within each market, individual or multiple offices will be headed by a market director.

All Private Wealth advisors and financial advisors will report to a market director, putting them just one management level away from a market executive.

Each market will have a client experience director, a new role responsible for ensuring that every UBS client receives a premium level of service. The client experience directors will report to Sue Emanuel, Wealth Management USA’s head of client experience.

“As we pursue growth and greater market share in the UHNW segment, we will continue to invest in delivering institutional capabilities to our wealthiest clients in the Americas through our Global Family and Institutional Wealth (GFIW) offering,” Chandler said.

GFIW Americas will be headed by Charles Otton, now global co-head of the Global Industries Group in the Investment Bank. Otton will report to George Athanasopoulos and Chandler, and “will be responsible for bringing together our institutional capabilities in Banking, Lending, Global Markets and Prime Brokerage with our client coverage efforts,” according to Chandler.

Within GFIW, Jennifer Gabrielli will serve as head of UHNW Client Solutions, “responsible for the strategic delivery of our bespoke GFIW services,” Chandler said. She will oversee both Family Office Solutions and the Private Markets OneBank Partnership.

“We are also realigning certain Home Office capabilities to ignite growth and better support the success of our clients and our FAs,” according to Chandler’s memo.

Bill Carroll will become head of sales and development for WM USA, overseeing National Sales, Recruiting & Retention, Field Development & Productivity, Field Engagement and Client Strategy Office.

Kevin Adams, Heather Crist, Filippo Ilardi and David Larado will report to Carroll.

“We believe these changes align with client trends, empower decision making closer to the client and support our future growth,” Chandler added.

 (Photo: Shutterstock)


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