UBS wants to sell but there aren't any bids

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Jul 21, 2009 10:18 pm

This is my hypothesis:



August 2008 UBS hires Lazard to figure out what to do.

February 2009 Rumor was that WFC was going to buy UBS. Confirmed that talks happened but went nowhere.

March 2009 UBS announces they are exiting 55 markets and by the end sell 56 offices to Stifel

July FT article comes out about maybe Bob McCann from MER may be on the short list for head of WM USA

Same article or another at the same time mentions that Dean Witter passed and went for Smith Barney whatever we are called now.

Many at UBS think JPM is a buyer for UBS. Rumor, nothing else, though. I even saw one that said Ameriprise (which is just plain silly)



UBS has courted everyone at the dance but no one is interested. 20% of the UBS head-count and 5% of the UBS revenue (although unprofitable) is US. In Switzerland, UBS uses the typical bank "Private Bank" model. Salaried employees, some bonus. They know how to work this model well. That is not the US model (overseas they really pay to have a bank account). UBS knows that 90% (last I heard Merrill was 65%, haven't heard from others but you get the picture) of its revenues come from <$1MM households. They, like everyone else pose as THE firm for >$1MM households. But all firms' profit margins are better at the 500,000 HH (ever discounted a million plus HH? So does everyone else!)



So UBS is trapped in the model they say they are versus what they really are and every possible suitor on the street knows it because they are the same way to some extent. They cannot make money doing what they are doing and they simply do not know how. The reality is that our business is a slim margin business versus a bank. Banks are getting net interest spread and fees which are almost half of their core revenue. That can be 300 to 600 bps gross. Wealth Management as a business might get 15 bps or less to the bottom line (or negative in UBS' case).



Who wants to marry someone with a personality disorder?



Just my thoughts to other postulators. Cheers!

Jul 21, 2009 11:04 pm

Polycarp:



Forgive my ignorance, but why would it be silly for UBS to sell to Ameriprise?



If they can come up with the cash, which I would imagine is unlikely, why would that be out of the question?

Jul 22, 2009 8:14 am

Different models, platforms and focus. Not meant as a slight to Ameriprise. Ameriprise is still more proprietary focused rather than open architecture.

Jul 22, 2009 9:53 pm

This is no longer true. Ameriprise has been trying hard over the last year to change their perception on the industry. They want to become a place to finish a career instead of start it. Hiring into the firm is now only experienced advisors with a large book. Problem is, Ameriprise didnt have the systems in place to attract those advisors. <?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


 


With the acquisition of HRBFA Ameriprise is setting up a real Bond Desk, a better brokerage system, and opening up the platform to outside products. Payscale and management structure has also been changed to be more in line with that of a wirehouse. Also, Ameriprise is now buying practices from other advisors on behalf of their own advisors.


 


Ameriprise also applied for TARP money to be used for an acquisition. Once all the strings were attached to TARP they turned it down, and then announced a 800m stock offering. That with the large amount of cash they have on hand it seems obvious that they want to make another acquisition. While UBS has a very different business model, they have assets, and systems that Ameriprise might find useful.


 


Ameriprise is a VERY different company then it was just a year ago, even more so then when it was American Express.

Jul 22, 2009 10:26 pm

nice try--there is no sugar coating the reality that is ameriprise...a population of wanna be CFPs masquerading as an open platform with a 10yr old brokerage system...if by better you mean, one at all??



Real Bond Desk??? You must have never worked in a wirehouse...when was H&R Block FA a legitimate distribution model?? You know of any clients with money that showed up in a seedy strip mall to have their taxes done by the $12/hour tax prep specialist THEN meet with the HRB FA in the conference room?



They raised money for all the past and upcoming lawsuits they have to settle as a result of the financial planning (delivery scam), the VUL sales as a cash reserve lawsuits, and their "special" deals with the mutual fund and LP firms



The P2 platform of franchise owners is barely a step above Primerica and could not serve a high net worth client if their life depended on it



Although every firm has its issues--the Ameriprise culture and the image most have of it are insurmountable--no legitimate producer in the industry will consider them as a place of consideration

Jul 23, 2009 2:07 pm

The biggest difference between the sales of Merill and Smith Barney and the potential sale of UBS- WMUS is price.  Both ML and SB were sold at bargain basesement prices by desperate sellers.  UBS parent can afford to hold onto WMUS if they want to.  They do want to sell, but at the right price.  Most plausable scenario is a sale of parts to different buyers; outside shot at another overseas buyer who wants a larger platform in the US...have heard that Barclays and HSBC have both looked.

Jul 23, 2009 2:14 pm
g1l1fvp:

The P2 platform of franchise owners is barely a step above Primerica and could not serve a high net worth client if their life depended on it


 
Worked for Charles Zhang for a long time until he moved to LPL.
Jul 23, 2009 7:20 pm

My guess is the UBS FA's that were dealt to SF are one happy bunch.

 
Can you imagine if that deal with Wachovia and UBS would have happened.  Train Wreck.
Jul 23, 2009 7:52 pm

g1l1fvp:

nice try--there is no sugar coating the reality that is ameriprise...a population of wanna be CFPs masquerading as an open platform with a 10yr old brokerage system...if by better you mean, one at all?? <?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />



I'm not "trying" anything. I never post here because people are of the same opinion as you. But, I was recently admonished for not posting, saying it doesnt do anyone any good because people wouldnt know if anything changed. So I made a post about what is changing.


 


 


You cant say that Ameriprise has a 10 year old brokerage system and then say they dont have one at all. Its obvious hyperbole. All I said is that Ameriprise is getting a better one. Its not an inaccurate statement.


 


g1l1fvp:


Real Bond Desk??? You must have never worked in a wirehouse...when was H&R Block FA a legitimate distribution model?? You know of any clients with money that showed up in a seedy strip mall to have their taxes done by the $12/hour tax prep specialist THEN meet with the HRB FA in the conference room?


The Bond Desk statement is also accurate. HRBFA's distribution model has nothing to do with it. Ameriprise had a system to trade bonds but it was difficult to navigate and cumbersome to use. HRBFA actually has a real bond desk, and Ameriprise will now be able to use it. I really don't understand where you are going with that paragraph. What does my experience, seedy strip malls, the pay rate of someone from HRB, and HRBFA's client base have to do with the resources that HRBFA, formerly Olde, has?



g1l1fvp:

They raised money for all the past and upcoming lawsuits they have to settle as a result of the financial planning (delivery scam), the VUL sales as a cash reserve lawsuits, and their "special" deals with the mutual fund and LP firms.


 


Your opinion on why they raised money is interesting. I know that some people feel that financial planning is a delivery scam, and to be honest if the advisor is not doing his job then it basically is. But there is a clear breakdown of the additional services that an Advisor gives when a client starts paying them an annual retainer. The VUL sales were a disgusting problem, but thats gone away with the idea that Ameriprise should hire people that don't know what they are doing. I'm not familiar with what "deals" you are speaking of though, I get the feeling that you probably don't either.  In either case, Thats a whole lot of cash put away for a purpose like that. I think this is more of an attempt at a veiled insult then at an actual reason for the accumulation of cash.



g1l1fvp:

The P2 platform of franchise owners is barely a step above Primerica and could not serve a high net worth client if their life depended on it


 


Your opinion on the P2 Platform is your own, and shared by others im sure. While doing 1-2 million a year in gross is not earth shattering in the industry, you cant get there servicing the bottom of the barrel and the Ameriprise P2 platform has plenty of advisors hitting that.


 


Its interesting that on a board of Professionals there are those who post like teenage fanboys or uninformed trolls. There is a lot of good information to be found on this board, that’s why I come here everyday, But I really have better things I should be doing then trying to banter words with trolls trying to spew their own self superiority.


 


Go ahead and respond to this. Prove me right with your unbased accusations about my experience or intelligence. I would love to see another post with the image of you foaming at the mouth like some scolded teenager, preening with your own self righteousness and hatred of Ameriprise.

Jul 23, 2009 8:46 pm
Polycarp:

This is my hypothesis:

August 2008 UBS hires Lazard to figure out what to do.
February 2009 Rumor was that WFC was going to buy UBS. Confirmed that talks happened but went nowhere.
March 2009 UBS announces they are exiting 55 markets and by the end sell 56 offices to Stifel
July FT article comes out about maybe Bob McCann from MER may be on the short list for head of WM USA
Same article or another at the same time mentions that Dean Witter passed and went for Smith Barney whatever we are called now.
Many at UBS think JPM is a buyer for UBS. Rumor, nothing else, though. I even saw one that said Ameriprise (which is just plain silly)

UBS has courted everyone at the dance but no one is interested. 20% of the UBS head-count and 5% of the UBS revenue (although unprofitable) is US. In Switzerland, UBS uses the typical bank "Private Bank" model. Salaried employees, some bonus. They know how to work this model well. That is not the US model (overseas they really pay to have a bank account). UBS knows that 90% (last I heard Merrill was 65%, haven't heard from others but you get the picture) of its revenues come from <$1MM households. They, like everyone else pose as THE firm for >$1MM households. But all firms' profit margins are better at the 500,000 HH (ever discounted a million plus HH? So does everyone else!)

So UBS is trapped in the model they say they are versus what they really are and every possible suitor on the street knows it because they are the same way to some extent. They cannot make money doing what they are doing and they simply do not know how. The reality is that our business is a slim margin business versus a bank. Banks are getting net interest spread and fees which are almost half of their core revenue. That can be 300 to 600 bps gross. Wealth Management as a business might get 15 bps or less to the bottom line (or negative in UBS' case).

Who wants to marry someone with a personality disorder?

Just my thoughts to other postulators. Cheers!

 
I think you are correct.  These guys are the worst.   Goldman sells stuff to them.  They did ONE good thing...made their massive cuts right at the bottom (duh).  Called the bottom with stupidity. They are cluesless.  Always first in the worst  (CDO's, ARS etc).  Idiot. whoers paid the most for FA's when gross was tanking 40%.  Whatever come snext, they will f&^%$ it up. 
Jul 24, 2009 12:58 am
regreprob:

g1l1fvp:

nice try--there is no sugar coating the reality that is ameriprise...a population of wanna be CFPs masquerading as an open platform with a 10yr old brokerage system...if by better you mean, one at all?? <?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />



I'm not "trying" anything. I never post here because people are of the same opinion as you. But, I was recently admonished for not posting, saying it doesnt do anyone any good because people wouldnt know if anything changed. So I made a post about what is changing.


 


 


You cant say that Ameriprise has a 10 year old brokerage system and then say they dont have one at all. Its obvious hyperbole. All I said is that Ameriprise is getting a better one. Its not an inaccurate statement.


 


[quote=g1l1fvp]
Real Bond Desk??? You must have never worked in a wirehouse...when was H&R Block FA a legitimate distribution model?? You know of any clients with money that showed up in a seedy strip mall to have their taxes done by the $12/hour tax prep specialist THEN meet with the HRB FA in the conference room? [/quote]


The Bond Desk statement is also accurate. HRBFA's distribution model has nothing to do with it. Ameriprise had a system to trade bonds but it was difficult to navigate and cumbersome to use. HRBFA actually has a real bond desk, and Ameriprise will now be able to use it. I really don't understand where you are going with that paragraph. What does my experience, seedy strip malls, the pay rate of someone from HRB, and HRBFA's client base have to do with the resources that HRBFA, formerly Olde, has?



[quote=g1l1fvp]


They raised money for all the past and upcoming lawsuits they have to settle as a result of the financial planning (delivery scam), the VUL sales as a cash reserve lawsuits, and their "special" deals with the mutual fund and LP firms.[/quote]


 


Your opinion on why they raised money is interesting. I know that some people feel that financial planning is a delivery scam, and to be honest if the advisor is not doing his job then it basically is. But there is a clear breakdown of the additional services that an Advisor gives when a client starts paying them an annual retainer. The VUL sales were a disgusting problem, but thats gone away with the idea that Ameriprise should hire people that don't know what they are doing. I'm not familiar with what "deals" you are speaking of though, I get the feeling that you probably don't either.  In either case, Thats a whole lot of cash put away for a purpose like that. I think this is more of an attempt at a veiled insult then at an actual reason for the accumulation of cash.



[quote=g1l1fvp]The P2 platform of franchise owners is barely a step above Primerica and could not serve a high net worth client if their life depended on it [/quote]


 


Your opinion on the P2 Platform is your own, and shared by others im sure. While doing 1-2 million a year in gross is not earth shattering in the industry, you cant get there servicing the bottom of the barrel and the Ameriprise P2 platform has plenty of advisors hitting that.


 


Its interesting that on a board of Professionals there are those who post like teenage fanboys or uninformed trolls. There is a lot of good information to be found on this board, that’s why I come here everyday, But I really have better things I should be doing then trying to banter words with trolls trying to spew their own self superiority.


 


Go ahead and respond to this. Prove me right with your unbased accusations about my experience or intelligence. I would love to see another post with the image of you foaming at the mouth like some scolded teenager, preening with your own self righteousness and hatred of Ameriprise.

Great post regreprob. I am glad I admonished you since the penned up emotions were obviously painful. Things are improving and Ameriprise will make an acquisition of some sort. I was under the impression it would be parts of ML. We will have to wait and see.

Jul 24, 2009 8:10 am

Does UBS think that there is someone stupider than they are out there? Seriously, they overpaid for hundreds of brokers and really expect someone to overpay for them? This isn't 2007 folks. Without a market there is no value, and certainly a market that has to pay three times what somethings is actually worth.  No sale, no cash for reinvestment for technology upgrades, short sale anyone?

Jul 24, 2009 5:58 pm
Buckeye:

My guess is the UBS FA's that were dealt to SF are one happy bunch.

 
Can you imagine if that deal with Wachovia and UBS would have happened.  Train Wreck.



I bet there are MANY small market, (exurb) or suburban UBS offices loaded with advisors WISHING they had been sold to Stifel!  If you're the typical 50 something year old FA and you KNOW that your firm will be sold eventually. What are your options? 1) go with the next bank or mega firm owner in a sale.  2) bail to ML or MSSB, or WFA or somewhere else and cash in and hope you can stand another 9 years in this biz and all the bs that comes with that, 3) stick it out regardless of the new owner and retention what ever that is and just suck it up, 4) go indy or RIA and build something you can sell when you want to leave. Seems pretty obvious to me.  What I don't get, and I've got 15 good years left, is why the heck are guys waiting for their firm to decide who will own them and their future to an extent... literally? UBS stinks, it's not getting better, it's not going to get better or emerge a leader in the US.  So.. what's next... who's gonna pay me 50 bps to stay in my chair at ubs??

Yes... Ameriprise is one of the firms that is capable of acquiring UBS.  So are JPM, RBC, Credit Suisse, HSBC. Pray it's not another Euro firm. The whole Euro trash private bank model sucks. HSBC is one I know well. London hates that an FA in the US Private Wealth Management group can earn unlimited $ based on his or her performance. They hate it and are incrementally working to limit and cap income.  Euro firms are simply socialist pigs and that's how they view the world. 

Were I at UBS and I did not have the balls to build something for myself, I'd pray I get bought by AMP or JPM or another domestic firm.

Jul 25, 2009 12:36 am

where did you get your stats???

most of the stuff you said was totally incorrect!

if UBS gets most of its revenye from households below 1mm then they are the first firm to break the classic 80/20 rule! im a UBS bom and i know almost all of my fas get about 80% of thier revenue from the top 20% of the book which is almost always 1mm plus. especially since i recruited 3 chairman level guys from morgan amd merrill this past year.

also UBS was the only firm of the wires to actually be profitable in 4thqtr of 08 (all lost money in 1st qtr)

im not totally drinking the cool aid especially after the jamie price call today (major complexing bom layoffs coming) but at least get the facts straight.

Jul 25, 2009 1:05 am
GoodTimes:

Does UBS think that there is someone stupider than they are out there? Seriously, they overpaid for hundreds of brokers and really expect someone to overpay for them? This isn't 2007 folks. Without a market there is no value, and certainly a market that has to pay three times what somethings is actually worth.  No sale, no cash for reinvestment for technology upgrades, short sale anyone?



Exactly.  Let's not forget that they top-ticked the market when they bought PaineWebber....

Jul 25, 2009 1:11 am

[/quote]

im not totally drinking the cool aid especially after the jamie price call today (major complexing bom layoffs coming) but at least get the facts straight.
[/quote]


I heard the same thing about BOM's today.  This won't be pretty, and I feel badly for the BOM's that I know.  Maybe I'm naive, but I just don't expect it to affect FA's in a substantial way.  We'll just have to adapt once again to a new paradigm.
 
Also, burton, I have to say this in answer to your question.  To me, the best choice is to stay at UBS (or Payne Webber, or whatever the he11 we are called after the dust clears) through thick and thin, unless my business and clients start to suffer in a major way due to the changes.  I know several MS SB guys, who used to be Salomon SB, who used to be Shearson Lehman, who used to be EF Hutton, and on, and on.  They've seen this many times in the past, and they're taking this in stride.
 
We all have a job to do in this industry, and if you care about your clients and your career, then no matter where your business is domiciled, you'll make it work.  And if you're top performer in the industry, you'll thrive in just about any environment.  FA's who have made it through the secular bear market of the last 10 years have proven their mettle.  This is just the latest hurdle we have to overcome, and we'll get through this too.
 
LA
Jul 25, 2009 8:19 am

Ithink im going to be ok with it lew, will allow me to build back the book i should not have given up 7 yrs ago (sounds like the transition salary will be generous for a while) only thing i hate is the value prop i recruited all my guys on (being a coach, being the problem solver for them, help them grow biz) is totally gone. one bm friend of mine already had directed all call in/walk in business to him at his branch -- guess we are Merrill Lynch now, sad because a producing bom culture sucks vs. a GOOD non-producing culture and the bar of branches with a non-producing bom (+12mm) is pretty high (thats only 4 branches out of 26 in my market area)

Jul 25, 2009 11:07 am

Nothing UBS does has ever been in the interest of the advisors or the
branch leadership.  I doubt the transition salary will be
generous.  Remember how "generous" they were with your bonus
(subjective) being cut 35% in February.  Remember also that most
of those setting policy in the Weehawken "padded cell" have never been
advisors and therefore, have no concept of the effort and focus it
takes to build a sustainable, profitable practice...it takes
years.  As far as your value prop is concerned, don't beat
yourself up too much...it's just business.  If your recruits are
true professionals they will understand.  No branch manager is
safe, regardless of office size or track record.  It's very
disturbing that there is such a lack of leadership and forward thinking
at UBS (although not surprising at all). 



A producing BOM can be the best position in the firm if you have a good
local culture.  You can still be a value added coach.  Non
producing BOM's have the continued challenge of pandering to
management, while most of their autonomy has been removed.  Not an
enviable position to have a target on your back 24/7.



Good luck...you'll do fine.  There are always opportunities for talented individuals.

Jul 25, 2009 12:45 pm

ABOM,

 
With this new change, how will that affect your ability to recruit and do other functions of a BOM?  If I were a manager, I think I would be saying "never again" at this point when it comes to sacrificing for the company.  Every manager has made major sacrifices for their respective company, many of which they were not compensated for. 
 
Now you have to rebuild your book.  If you think about it, though, this might actually be the most fun you've had in a long time, especially since you gave up production for the BOM role.  Most of us in the business enjoy the hunt for new clients, and thrill of the close.  With your experience, imagine how much different prospecting will be for you now.  You have the contacts, you have the knowledge, and the energy will return.  Let the hunt begin-- Release the hounds!!!
 
LA
Jul 25, 2009 1:44 pm

A friend (BOM) at UBS just called me...there is an important "product update" call tomorrow night (SUNDAY) at 8pm...any input or speculation? When have any of you had a Sunday conf. call on a product?   Ever...