UBS has assembled an 810-strong advisory workforce concentrating full-time on the super-wealthy client segment, customers considered to be those with free assets of at least $10 million but probably nearer $30 million and above.
So this and other new data from the Swiss giant, headed by chief executive Sergio Ermotti appears to justify its latest boast that “we are the global leader in wealth management for private clients, particularly in the ultra high net worth and high net worth segments”.
Assets held on behalf of UHNW clients made up, at CHF 678 billion, more than half of the total CHF 1,145 billion at the end of 2017, up from a total CHF 977 billion the previous year, at the UBS Global Wealth Management arm.
Net new money from these “ultra” clients was CHF 45.2 billion compared with CHF 27.3 billion a year earlier.
“We seek to capitalise on our market-leading position in the ultra high net worth business and to increase our market share considerably in this segment. We also invest significantly in growing our high net worth and core affluent businesses,” UBS says.
Last month, UBS Wealth Management and Wealth Management Americas were combined into the unified business division, called Global Wealth Management. This restructuring aims further to enhance what the bank calls its “superior client experience and product offering in line with an increasingly global client base”.
Apart from those 810 advisers, a number of others are serving the ultra-wealthy, but not on an exclusive basis.
So it is clear that the ultra-wealthy advisers make up an increasing large percentage of the advisory workforce, which stood at a total 3,696 at the end of 2017. Excluding North America, Europe in geographical terms commanded the largest advisory workforce, at 1,265, Asia came next at 1,037 and Switzerland had 743. Emerging markets boasted 651 advisers, according to the UBS annual report.
Asia very much remains a key target for UBS, reflecting the fact that its clients there are mostly entrepreneurs aged 50 and above. It was also the top geography for generating net new money last year, at CHF28.3 billion.
Credit Suisse has yet to publish its annual report, which usually gives greater detail on private banking and related operations.
Separately, UBS said that is moving ahead with proposals to relocate staff from London to Frankfurt ahead of Brexit. If Britain fails to agree adequate transitional relief with the EU, the bank expects to merge UBS Ltd in the UK with UBS Europe, its German-based European banking arm, ahead of exit from the EU by March next year.
Clients and other counterparties of UBS Ltd would become counterparties of UBS Europe through the planned merger of the two entities. However, UBS said it expected that clients of UBS Ltd who can be serviced by UBS AG, London branch would generally be migrated to latter prior to this merger.
UBS didn’t say how many staff could be relocated but has previously indicated it could be less than 200.
Credit Suisse has said, in its own Brexit planning, that more than 250 staff could be transferred from London although most will be from the investment banking side.