- The private wealth management arm at UBS has launched a group to help its US advisers provide family office-style services to their ultra-rich clients.
- UBS is the world’s largest wealth manager with some $2.3 trillion in assets, but its wealth business had a bumpy start to 2019. The bank is focused on growing U.S. assets and improving margins there.
- UBS is aiming to jumpstart wealth inflows with $70 billion in US assets over the next three years. John Mathews, the bank’s US private wealth management head, told Business Insider how the family office solutions group could help.
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UBS has pulled together a new group to help its wealth advisers provide a "family office"-like experience, and that comes as the bank works to make good on raking in $70 billion in new US assets over three years.
The family office solutions group, which UBS started rolling out in January, supports advisers on the private wealth management team who work with very rich customers — those with $100,000,000 are just at the low end.
UBS, the world’s largest wealth manager, is focused on deepening ties between wealth and its investment bank, which it trimmed down following the financial crisis. It is staking its hopes on the ultra-high-net-worth set, and trying to jumpstart money coming in while improving US wealth profit margins to 25%. (By comparison, Morgan Stanley recently reported an overall pre-tax wealth management margin of 28%.)
Execs on the UBS second-quarter earnings call described the first half of 2019 as "challenging" for the bank’s global wealth business — it made less on lending to clients, who also invested conservatively and held more cash.
The new group’s head, Ann Rybak, joined UBS last November from Barclays, where she was chief of staff to the UK bank’s CEO. She reports to John Mathews, head of private wealth management and ultra-high-net-worth at UBS Global Wealth Management for the Americas.
The group will work to help advisers look more like a one-stop family office for clients, or be the "family office to their family office," by providing investment- and non-investment-related services and selling UBS products, Mathews told Business Insider in an interview this week.
"We’re connected at the hip," Mathews said, referring to the wealth management and investing banking teams. "The wealthier the clients become, the more institutional there needs to be — it could be selling their business, or advising on their business, or helping them buy a business."
The approach is geared towards helping pull in $70 billion in new wealth assets in the US over the next three years, Mathews said, describing that goal as "ambitious." That figure matches a previous target the bank reiterated on its second-quarter call. UBS global wealth management had $2.3 trillion in invested assets at the end of 2018.UBS
UBS said this is the first time it has brought experts from across the firm together specifically for advisers’ wealthy clients. The services offered by roughly 20 specialists include estate planning, bill pay and concierge, as well as tailored lending, alternative investments, and direct investing deals.
"We really need to have a dedicated group where that’s all they do," said Mathews, who began conceptualizing the setup about a year ago.
To help bring wealth management and investment banking closer together, Mathews brought over Jennifer Gabrielli as a deputy head of ultra-high-net-worth. She was previously global chief of staff in investment banking at UBS.
UBS said around 40% of the family office solutions group has been hired from outside the bank, and 60% are existing employees that have been moved over. While it has filled the team’s key roles, there is still ongoing hiring for additional support roles.
The group’s offerings are not available to all of UBS’s 6,500 US financial advisers. Only about 500 private wealth advisers who manage larger client relationships will have access. In the long run, UBS may roll out the service in the Americas beyond its private wealth management group.
So far, 279 advisers have contacted the group, yielding 160 client discussions, Mathews said.
"It’s multiplying like I’ve never seen over the last six years, the discussion of family offices," he said.
In some cases, the newly focused group might help convince a client to switch to UBS services instead of using their own family office, he said.
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