Brad S. Bernstein

Brad S. Bernsteinage 39

Senior vice president, wealth management, UBS Financial Services

Fast Facts

  • Occasionally indulges in $150 Philly cheesesteaks
  • Forty percent of his clients are Indian-Americans
  • First job was as a busboy at a restaurant

Brad Bernstein works in a profession at the heart of capitalism. But while representing UBS Financial Services advisers when the firm was changing compensation policies, he felt more like a union leader.

Mr. Bernstein was the youngest person to ever serve on the UBS Financial Advisor Advisory Council, where he was one of 14 members representing the 7,100 UBS advisers.

He participated on the body in 2014-15 as the firm was contemplating changes to the way it paid advisers. It was making adjustments in anticipation of a Labor Department rule that would raise advice standards for retirement accounts.

The modifications would have affected bonuses in a way that Mr. Bernstein said was unfair. He convinced UBS officials to make deferred bonuses a larger part of total compensation, as they modified adviser pay to comply with the DOL rule.

“It was much better for the financial adviser than it would have been, and I’m proud of that,” Mr. Bernstein said. “We have a really good compensation package compared to our peers, without conflicts of interest.”

Mr. Bernstein also helped establish an online compensation calculator that allows UBS advisers to easily track their pay.

Wirehouse financial advisers like Mr. Bernstein and his colleagues often are portrayed as the bad guys in the debate over the DOL rule. He counters that perception.

“Ninety-nine percent of us are really good people,” Mr. Bernstein said. “Ninety-nine percent of us do what’s best for the client. The only way I grow and get referrals is if my client is successful and satisfied with me.”

Mr. Bernstein’s clients seem to be happy, as his revenue has grown from over $100,000 to more than $2 million in the last 10 years.

“I don’t ask for them anymore,” he said of referrals, which continue to come in anyway.

– Mark Schoeff Jr.

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