UBS Reorganizes Wealth Management Division (update)

UBS’s Wealth Management Americas division is aiming to bolster the Swiss bank’s brokerage, internally announcing significant management changes on top of a substantial reorganization: It consolidated three brokerage regions into two, and it named Jason Chandler as the new head of private wealth management, Registered Rep. learned exclusively on Friday.

UBS’s Wealth Management Americas division is aiming to bolster the Swiss bank’s brokerage, internally announcing significant management changes on top of a substantial reorganization: It consolidated three brokerage regions into two, and it named Jason Chandler as the new head of private wealth management, Registered Rep. learned exclusively on Thursday.

The changes come as the troubled division takes steps to fulfill CEO Bob McCann’s vow to return to profitability under a renewal team of managers charged with rolling out a plan by early next month. UBS has suffered large client asset outflows -- $10 billion in the third quarter alone -- and was hit by an embarrassing tax scandal. The latest changes include a new head of national sales, Bill Carroll. The unit also picked Diane Frimmel to oversee the “emerging affluent section.”

In addition, the UBS division named Paul Santucci to the post of Chief Operating Officer within the Wealth Management Advisor Group, according to an internal memo on Thursday spelling out all the latest changes. (Registered Rep. has read a copy of the memo.)

The memo, from Bob Mulholland, head of the Advisor Group, said the existing three regions are being consolidated into the East Division, led by David McWilliams and the West Division, led by Michael Schweitzer. Chandler, who managed the Northeast Region Manager, replaces John Straus. (UBS's market areas now will be known as regions.)

New national sales manager Bill Carroll has been market area manager for New Jersey. “We will combine the New Jersey and New York market areas to form the new Metropolitan Region, led by Chris Amo,” Mulholland noted. “The concentration of wealth in the New York Metro area represents a tremendous opportunity, and this consolidation puts us in the best position to grow our market share in this region.”

Mara Glassel, who ran national sales for some four years, will work with Mulholland through the transition. Meanwhile, Straus assumes the role of head of strategic client relationships, reporting to Brian Hull. Mulholland praised Straus’ “proven track record” of developing strategies for ultra high-net worth clients at the division and offering them comprehensive private wealth services.

Mulholland said the wealth management unit’s core focus was a major consideration: “The success of the Wealth Management Americas franchise rests on our ability to remain FA-centric and client-focused in every activity we undertake,” he told employees. “Once we make this ambition a seamless part of our everyday efforts, we will be in a great position to grow and take this business to the next level.”

Santucci, who has had roles in field management and in the home office, will serve as Mulholland’s COO. As COO, Santucci will have responsibility “for recruiting and talent development, deploying the best available talent in our field leadership roles and managing the day-to-date activities of our business area.”

In other changes, the memo announced that the branch chief operations office, led by Valerie Rowland, will be folded into an “integrated WMAG organization.” It will report to Santucci. Mulholland said that Robyn Turk, who led efforts to launch the division’s Investment Center will work with Frimmel through the transition.

Some on the Street familiar with UBS said the brokerage has had to grapple with a tough environment, including advisor defections on the heels of a global credit crisis and challenging market conditions. These people praised McCann and his team for decisive action. UBS advisors showed their displeasure with UBS in Registered Rep.'s annual advisor satisfaction survey published in December 2009.

UBS spokeswoman, Karina Byrne, told Registered Rep the changes are part of the wealth management unit’s “renewal” efforts. “We are making the UBS Wealth Management Advisor Group more nimble and efficient,” she added, “lining up all the expertise of this tight-knit group of senior managers squarely behind the financial advisors and their branches, to better serve our clients and accelerate our growth.”

Indeed, in a separate memo to employees last month seen by Registered Rep, McCann said: “When I introduced the Renewal Team last November, I stated we would roll out a series of changes in how we interface with our clients and Financial Advisors, with particular focus on streamlining processes, increasing efficiencies and driving the business forward.”

At the end of the third quarter, Wealth Management Americas employee headcount was 17,677, which included 7,286 financial advisors and 10,391 non-FA employees. UBS is scheduled to report fourth quarter earnings on Tuesday.

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