UBS’s Merged Wealth Management Unit May Be Having Problems
Swiss banking giant UBS had high hopes for its wealth management unit when it combined its international unit with the North America business last year. But so far the company has run into issues realizing its objectives, according to news reports.
UBS merged its Wealth Management Americas business with the Wealth Management unit in February 2018, appointing two co-presidents: Tom Naratil, previously president of UBS Americas and Wealth Management Americas, and Martin Blessing, previously president of Wealth Management. So far, the unit hasn’t delivered on all they set out to do: Naratil and Blessing planned to get the cost-income ratio under 75%, for example, but it stood at 80.5% in 2018, finews.com writes.
UBS also said in April that it wants to boost spending cuts by $300 million in addition to the $600 million announced last year, according to the industry news website. The company also announced plans to go after ultra-rich clients and American expats, finews.com writes. It also launched a team of around two dozen staff for its family office services unit, aimed at American clients with $100 million and more, according to the website.
But UBS hasn’t tapped the “huge potential” in the U.S., one person familiar with the matter tells finews.com. North America has 750 billionaires with a combined $3.1 trillion in assets — but the bank isn’t offering the “sophisticated products and services” necessary to lure the ultra-wealthy in the U.S., according to the website.
Several managing directors in the merged unit have left or announced their plans to do so, finews.com writes. At the same time, the only C-suite executive at UBS with a wealth management background is Naratil, according to the website. And those inside the unit complain of a lack of strategy and a “real sense of drift,” finews.com writes.
UBS is also having issues “fusing a gung-ho U.S. brokerage culture with the more genteel old-world approach honed in Switzerland,” according to the website.