UBS stands to double the profits in its Americas wealth management business even as its advisor ranks continue shrinking, one top executive says, according to news reports.
UBS lost 283 financial advisors in the unit, or around 4% of its total, over the past year, as reported.
Its advisor ranks stood at 6,627 at the end of the third quarter of 2019. But Tom Naratil, co-head of UBS’s wealth management division along with Iqbal Khan, believes the firm’s advisor count could fall below 6,600 and it would still come out making more money because those advisors would be “twice as productive as they are today,” according to Reuters.
“If we get that kind of profile, then in five to 10 years from now we’ll have a business that could probably make twice as much as we do today,” Naratil tells the newswire.
One way to squeeze more money out of fewer advisors is through selling clients more high-end services such as loans and mandates, according to Naratil, Reuters writes.
The other part of the equation is to go after richer clients, Naratil says, according to the newswire. UBS has already been targeting wealthy investors, or those with up to $100 million to invest, but it plans to go after those with even more assets, Reuters writes.
While UBS had $8 billion in outflows in the Americas region in the first three quarters of this year, much of that was by less-wealthy clients who generate less for UBS, people close to the matter tell the newswire.
UBS CFO Kirt Gardner said recently the firm has “been very focused in our hiring and very selective” and that the firm has a “decent pipeline” for new recruits.
Now, UBS is luring big producers from rivals including JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, according to Reuters. In October, however, UBS lost advisors to Stifel Financial and Raymond James & Associates, while at least a pair of UBS brokers opted for independence and started their own firm.
This week, two veteran brokers left UBS for First Republic Bank. Ronald Weckbacher and Gregory Webster have joined First Republic Investment Management in Century City, Calif., the company says. Weckbacher joined the financial services industry in 1983 and came to UBS in 2008 after a 24-year stint at Morgan Stanley, according to his BrokerCheck profile. Webster started his career in the industry with Morgan Stanley in 1993 and also joined UBS in 2008, according to BrokerCheck.