UBS latest to make push for young, diverse advisers

Wirehouse creates two new training programs and brings in a firm to help it find ethnically diverse candidates

May 22, 2018 @ 4:49 pm

By Bruce Kelly

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that 20 young advisers had completed UBS' general adviser training program. That is the number that have started the program.

UBS Wealth Management Americas is the latest firm to try to tackle the looming shortage of financial advisers by embarking on a push to hire and train a younger, more diverse workforce.

UBS has recently created two new training programs to attract recruits and has teamed up with a diversity hiring startup that helps big companies connect with minority candidates for jobs and internships. One program focuses on new advisers training as financial planners and the other as more general financial advisers and registered reps. Both will attempt to place trainees and recruits into teams.

UBS is also pegging its training and diversity efforts to compensation. For example, trainees who earn the certified finanancial planner designation receive a $15,000 bonus. And UBS has more than doubled the length of a time — from seven to 18 months — an adviser trainee can work and receive a salary before getting a pay cut for not hitting revenue goals or targets.

Leading the effort at UBS is Emily de la Reguera, a former intern and trainee who is now director and head of next generation development. So far, almost 20 young advisers have started the general program, with another 70 potential candidates lining up for both programs, she said in an interview Tuesday. The candidates range from recent college graduates to accountants and attorneys looking to change careers, she said.

Part of the effort is to hire a more ethnically diverse group of advisers, she said. "We are looking at the long-term view and far down the road and want to attract advisers who look like our clients in five to 15 years," said Ms. de la Reguera.

UBS did not provide statistics about the racial or gender diversity of its 6,956 advisers in the United States. As part of its broader corporate mission, the bank has publicly stated that its goal is for women to have one-third of its leadership roles by 2020.

UBS is working with Jopwell, a diversity recruitment platform, as part of the new effort. "It leads to bottom-line success when you have a more diverse workforce," said Jopwell CEO Porter Braswell.

The four wirehouses, including UBS, are emphasizing training programs to replace the large numbers of older advisers who are ready to retire. Meanwhile, other large firms, including Edward Jones, are launching efforts to find more women to work as financial advisers.

Industry consultant Cerulli Associates reports that there are 47,118 female financial advisers, representing 15.1% of adviser head count. Other industry tallies are in that neighborhood or a few percentage points higher.

Historically, training programs at large brokerage firms have been hit or miss, with high rates of attrition, industry observers noted.

"The industry is getting to a desperate level to find new advisers, and unless firms figure it out, they're all competing for the same, smaller pool of advisers," said Danny Sarch, an industry recruiter. "The biggest problem in the industry is lack of ability to train," he said, adding that UBS recently said it was cutting back on recruiting and appears not to be interested in buying a rival to grow.

"The firms that figure out training eventually will be the winners, but we won't know that for four or five years out," he said.

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