More fuel was added to the fire surrounding speculation that UBS Wealth Americas would go on the block and that Wells Fargo would be the likely buyer.
At the Tiburon CEO Summit in New York City on Wednesday, principal Chip Roame predicted that the U.S. brokerage arm of UBS will be sold and that Wells Fargo would likely purchase it.
In his “State of the Financial Service Industry” address, Roame pointed out that Wells Fargo is the only one of the four so-called wirehouses growing its advisor force. The overall wirehouse advisor market has shrunk to approximately 55,516 from 62,000, he said. UBS has the smallest advisor force of approximately 6,700 but Roame said the average book of a UBS advisor is a striking $119 million compared to $21 million for the average independent channel rep.
But UBS spokeswoman Karina Byrne responded: “UBS Wealth Management Americas is an integral part of the UBS AG business model, and UBS CEO Oswald Gruebel has said repeatedly and recently that this business is not for sale.”
A Wells Fargo spokeswoman responded that the firm couldn’t comment on rumor on speculation.
In other comments, Roame noted that the financial advisor market went up to 351,845 last year but much of the growth occurred in the independent channel. He also questioned the breakaway broker phenomenon, in which advisors from the wirehouses migrate to the independent and registered investment advisor channels. “Two-thirds of those advisors [who go independent or join RIAs] don’t come from the wirehouses,” Roame said.