ML vs UBS vs Smith Barney

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Nov 9, 2008 10:20 pm

For those of you have left from or moved to one of these firms in the last few years and those thinking of leaving ML soon for UBS or Smith Barney, I would appreciate your thoughts on the relative postives and negatives of UBS and Smith Barney relative to ML and to each other. I'd particularly be interested to hear your opinions on comparisons of these firms' platforms, technology (reporting, desktop, financial planning, etc), quality of FAs/management(branch and divisional), culture, focus and future direction. We are about a $1.5 million team in the NY area mostly annuitized with sophisticated clients. Thanks.

Nov 10, 2008 9:25 am

I can't speak for UBS or Smith Barney. My firm is currently retained by a prestigious, global organization who is in the market for advisor teams like yourself. I am with an Executive Search Firm, Butterfass, Pepe and Macallan and would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you. Please call me @ 201 560 9500  (ask for Angelo) if you are interested.


Best of luck!!!
Nov 10, 2008 2:33 pm

BPM- Don't waste everybodies time! You should have sent a message instead of advertising on this site. Get lost you SCUM BAG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nov 11, 2008 12:29 am

I can cover UBS for you so ask away.



I think the biggest unique value proposition for us is still being the worlds largest wealth manager (close to 3 trillion if you include asset management). As well as not having an interest in owning or buying a US commercial bank.



UBS of course had major Sub-Prime issues but we raised capital early and the the Swiss version of the TARP will allow the firm to actually profit on assets they will be selling to the SNB (Swiss National bank aka Swiss Fed) at end of 4th qtr UBS will have zero US mortgage exposure and one of the highest tier 1 ratios.



From a technology standpoint the firm has invested a lot over last 2 years on re-designing many systems but probably still has more to go.



Many Adviors believe we have the best MF wrap platform (PACE), SMA's are on par with most other major's. UMA is getting some nice attention.



New comp plan (especially for teams) is a big pay raise for most advisors (Avg of 8-10% for FA's in my office). Also new relationship pricing next year will cut down on account fees (1mm+ households no fees or if account on direct deposit no fees).



What firm are you at? i was at Morgan for over 10 years and UBS for past 3.

Nov 11, 2008 6:31 am

Currently we are ML and are between UBS and Smith Barney, if we decide to move.

Nov 12, 2008 3:42 am

I've worked at a couple of wirehouses and am currently with ML, with a TT of about 500K............In the end, I find them to be all the same........Each firm gives the you the whole song and dance about having the best platform, but their minor pros and cons generally balance each other out, in my opinion.

For transactional accounts......research, entering trades, payouts, commissions, bond inventory is gonna be the same.

For managed money, they all have access to similar (if not identical managers).........their quarterly reports are comparable.....as are the overall platforms.

I strongly feel that anyone who tells you one is better/worse than another has an agenda......either to promote one or bash one.........

You can develop a better relationship with one branch manager than another, but again, that could be the case at any firm........I've gotten along better and have had more respect for managers who used to be FA's (even if they lie about how successful they were) than with those who have clearly never been in the trenches.........

If I were to recommend one over the other, it would have little to do with the firm.....and more with the package Dollars, Support (bringing your own assistant, or being assigned one (make sure you get someone registered), equal or easier commute to the office......when they start talking about having a better platform, it's all BS..........

Nov 12, 2008 12:29 pm

BPM (recruiter)  You are such a whore.  Get on the phone, make the cold calls. Nobody worth a nickel will give you the time of day here. But, many will respect a courteous call. I know and have worked with a good recruiter.  Tell me, how many years were you in this business before you starting recruiting into it??  The best recruiters I've come to know and the one I worked with was an FA 20+ and a manager for 10+. He knows what the heck he's talking about, who he's talking about and won't waste an FAs time.

Nov 12, 2008 8:52 pm

SFEZ- has a good point, a big part of your success comes with a good branch manager who knows how to run a branch. The Platforms all have + / -. A good BOM who will partner with you and make a coachin impact for you and your time is priceless.



I would recomend before joining a branch make some random calls in to his top producers and have some candid conversations with them on how they run the branch and what the culture is like.



If your going to sign a 9 year note it better be in an environment your going to want to be in for a long time!

Nov 16, 2008 10:02 pm

I left UBS last year and can assure you they don't have "the best MF wrap program". It is a good deal for UBS and the advisor. They don't use institutional class shares, the 12b-1s are not credited to the client and to get into Pace the fund companies pay for the shelf space. ML's technology is better. I turned down an all stock offer to go to Smith Barney as an Assistant Manager -that would have been a disaster! Anyway, why not go independent?

Nov 23, 2008 2:53 am

I'm looking at UBS too after 20+ years with ML. I do think a lot of these companies have equalized over the years. However, can you really get over SB & MS might have major changes going forward? ML technology is currently better. They've got some nice features. Question is where is $7 billion in savings coming from? Many say technology. And with ML representing only 13% of BofA's business, they might not care as much to keep it updated. Here's what mattered to me in priority order when I put pen to paper (will not be your priorities).
-
-What % is wealth mngt business of parent company
-Office culture (bigger offices this might not matter as much)
-Is bad news out and settled?
-Branch Mngt
-How much production per assistant ratio?
-Regional Mngt
-Is brand positive?
-Location
-Technology

Having said this, I can understand one FA going from ML to UBS in one region and vice versa in another. It doesn't mean one got it wrong!

One thing I think is very important. Do not go for the $$. I knew when my wife decided we would refinish the frickin' hardwood floors with some the money, we were going for reasons other than the cash. This made me feel like I was looking for the right reasons.

By now you know I'm not a recruiter for UBS but I do have a question. Out of all the major wirehouses isn't true only UBS can say: bad news is out, you know who will own us, and you know what the parent company has up its sleeve?





 

Nov 23, 2008 6:33 am

The premise of the question is flawed, in my opinion. 

 
However, I have another question:  who was a better person, Stalin, Hitler or Pol Pot?
Nov 23, 2008 7:28 am
wired:

I left UBS last year and can assure you they don't have "the best MF wrap program". It is a good deal for UBS and the advisor. They don't use institutional class shares, the 12b-1s are not credited to the client and to get into Pace the fund companies pay for the shelf space. ML's technology is better. I turned down an all stock offer to go to Smith Barney as an Assistant Manager -that would have been a disaster! Anyway, why not go independent?

 
Wired - Things have changed  - There is now an ability to you institutional / managed money share classes in PACE.
 
Also over 50k you can use a UBS managed mutual fund platform, where 12b-1's are credited back to the client.
Dec 4, 2008 10:44 pm

CPPR33

Things couldn't have changed all that long ago since I have been gone less than a year. I am glad they did change! I really did like PACE and the biggest flaw I found was the limited access to institutional pricing. Now UBS will be a little hard to compete against.