UBS adviser count continues to decline

Firm to merge U.S., global wealth management units on Feb. 1

Jan 22, 2018 @ 2:31 pm

By Bruce Kelly

With the recent overhaul of its wealth management business taking shape, UBS Wealth Management Americas continued to see a decline in its overall number of advisers, reporting on Monday morning a net decrease of 203 in 2017, or 2.9%.

Meanwhile, on Feb. 1, UBS will create a unified Wealth Management and Wealth Management Americas business division, called Global Wealth Management.

Martin Blessing, President Wealth Management, and Tom Naratil, President UBS Americas and Wealth Management Americas, have been appointed co-presidents of the combined unit.

At the end of last year, UBS Wealth Management Americas reported 6,822 financial advisers, according to its earnings report. That's down from 7,025 at the end of 2016 and from 7,140, or 4.5%, at the end of 2015.

A spokeswoman for the firm, Maya Dillon, declined to comment.

The decrease in headcount is likely not surprising after, in the middle of 2016, UBS Wealth Management Americas signaled a shift in its recruiting and retention strategy.

Specifically, the firm launched a new adviser compensation plan to boost payouts for advisers with the largest books of business and incentives for advisers to form teams. It also said it was reducing adviser recruiting by 40%.

At the time, UBS Wealth Management Americas said its new operating model — which took effect January 1, 2017 — would drive organic growth through an increased focus on adviser retention.

In November, UBS dropped out of broker protocol, which has made it easier for advisers to move from one firm to another.

On Monday, UBS Wealth Management Americas reported record annual profits of close to $1.4 billion and annualized revenue per adviser of $1.23 million. Recruitment loans to advisers fell 14% year over year, according to the company.

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