UBS will increase the number of specialized support staff and position resources closer to advisers in the field, according to a memo seen by On Wall Street.
The moves build on initiatives revealed in June by Tom Naratil, president of UBS Wealth Management Americas, who said that the wirehouse would pull resources from broker recruiting and allocate them to advisers already at the firm.
As part of its latest changes, UBS will have 30% more specialists in key areas facing the field than the firm had prior to this initiative, according to Paul Hatch, head of Advice & Solutions at UBS Wealth Management Americas.
"Success in the future means having a broader and more capable solution set for clients who are going to expect it and demand it," Hatch tells On Wall Street in an exclusive interview.
UBS is now creating hubs for the four divisions of its brokerage force, which the firm created following Naratil's June announcement. To better serve the firm's approximately 7,100 advisers, each hub will have consultants in structured solutions, alternative investments, banking, practice management and technology. A fifth hub will be devoted to the ultrahigh-net-worth segment, according to the memo.
Resources will be reallocated from the firm's home office to the field in order to provide more local support and to enable "decision making closer to your clients," according to the memo, which was sent this afternoon to employees from Hatch and Brian Hull, head of the Client Advisory Group at the firm.
"One of the benefits of this is having all these teams work together rather than working within their individual siloed business areas," says Julie Fox, head of Field Sales at UBS Wealth Management Americas.
Hatch, who joined UBS from Morgan Stanley in 2014, adds that the system is "designed and built for how an adviser thinks about their business."
These changes, which will be implemented starting Sept. 6, enable the firm to pursue a team approach when it comes to its product consultants, Hatch says, adding that is what advisers want from the firm.
"Their day is like everyone else's day; there are so many things coming at you. A team approach rationalizes everything for them," he says.
Upon learning of the changes, a UBS adviser was skeptical that moving staff closer to his and his colleagues' level would have a meaningful impact on their business. The adviser, who asked not to be named because he did not have permission to speak publically, says he thinks the firm already does a good job in supporting him when he needs alternative investments and other specialized products and services for his clients.
"What I most care about is: Are they improving the technology?"
Quote"One of the benefits of this is having all these teams work together rather than working within their individual siloed business areas," says Julie Fox, head of Field Sales at UBS Wealth Management Americas.
He adds: "If we have state of the art technology on my desk by the middle of next year, that would make a difference to me."
UBS' latest changes follow plans to add new investment products and technology. In June, the wirehouse partnered with robo developer SigFig to develop digital tools for its brokerage force. And in July UBS signed a deal with Eaton Vance to offer new NextShares exchange-traded managed funds to its advisers.
Hatch says the hubs and additional personnel enable the firm to make the most of these commitments.
"As we begin new innovative solutions on down the road, we will need people in the branches and markets to support these changes," he says.
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