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Broker Report Card 2010. UBS: Thumbs Up

Just over 12 months ago, financial advisors at UBS were desperately searching for direction and leadership. Today, many UBS advisors seemed to have found that missing direction under CEO Bob McCann, the ex-Merrill brokerage chief.

One UBS advisor said the business today has all the products and service offerings of Bank of America and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, but with one notable difference. With 6,783 advisors, UBS is a more manageable place to work than the big two wirehouse empires, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, with some 18,000 advisors, and Merrill Lynch, with its army of 15,000. β€œIt is refreshing to know that I can reach out to anyone in the organization, receive prompt responses and get the results for my clients that they deserve,” the advisor, a Merrill alumn, said.

McCann, who became CEO of UBS' Wealth Management Americas in October 2009, didn't waste time executing on his turnaround plan. He slashed layers of management, trimmed overhead expenses, shuttered redundant real estate, expanded product offerings and brought in a team of new managers, some from his old digs. He also introduced a new compensation plan that rewards the firm's biggest hitters for loyalty and growth. The program was offered to advisors who deliver $500,000 or more in revenue in 2010, a group estimated at 3,000 FAs. They were entitled to a seven-year forgivable loan equivalent to 65 percent of this year's production.
One person who briefed Registered Rep. said that incentives would expand with length of service. It must be one of the clinchers today among advisors at UBS. McCann, who was popular among the rank and file at Merrill, has been getting very nice plaudits lately from the UBS troops.

Said one UBS advisor: β€œI have always believed that whatever is best for my client is best for me. I have no doubt that the best is here at UBS.”

Share price (23 Nov.): $15.77
Pre-tax income, Q1-Q3:
Q1: $14 million; Q2: $(61) million (restructuring); Q3: $ (46) million (Kajeet/ARS settlement)
Net revenue Q1-Q3: $3.96 billion
Total client AUM. Q3: $707 billion
Net new client assets Q3: $4.6 billion (includes dividends and interest.)
Number of advisors, Q3: 6,783
Average annualized production per advisor, Q3: $782,000
Average assets per advisor, Q3: $104.3 million

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