UBS Wealth Management (also known as UBS Financial Services, Inc.) offers a multitude of financial services. The Swiss bank’s wealth management arm has an option for nearly anyone who is looking for financial advice, with minimum investment levels for some types of accounts as low as $5,000 and as high as $15 million for others.
Its clients run the gamut from individuals to corporations, charities, pension funds and even other banks. UBS Wealth Management has offices and financial advisors in nearly every major U.S. city, as well as many small and mid-sized cities, so those searching for a personal touch should be able to sit down with a UBS advisor in their area.
Who Should Use UBS Wealth Management?
Whether you are a new investor who is looking to build your wealth or a high-net-worth individual seeking a higher return on your investments, UBS Wealth Management may have a program that makes sense for you.
UBS offers multiple discretionary and non-discretionary programs, with minimum account sizes as low as $5,000. Each program has numerous possible strategies to choose from, and asset classes ranging from equities to municipal bonds to real estate investment trusts.
UBS Wealth Management Minimum Account Sizes
Smaller investors who want to open an account with UBS Wealth Management have a number of options. They can put their money into a UBS Managed Portfolio, where minimum account size can be as low as $5,000. The managed portfolio program is a discretionary program, which means that your financial manager has full discretion to make investment decisions as he or she sees fit.
Another option is the UBS Advice Portfolio Program. Similar to UBS Managed Portfolio, this is a discretionary program. However, it has a higher minimum account size at $10,000. It relies in part on an algorithm to make ongoing tweaks to your portfolio’s asset allocation.
UBS also offers a number of non-discretionary programs, in which the client makes all decisions. These include PACE Select, which has a minimum account size of $10,000, and UBS Strategic Advisor, which has a minimum account size of $50,000. PACE is a mutual-fund-only program, so investments made through a PACE account are restricted to mutual funds. UBS Strategic Advisor is more flexible, allowing for investments in equities, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), fixed-income securities and other asset classes.
UBS Accounts for High-Net-Worth Individuals
UBS also offers programs for institutions and high-net-worth individuals through UBS Asset Management. Minimum account sizes under UBS Asset Management begin at $15 million. UBS Asset Management employs an active management process, allocating assets based on a client’s particular goals and guidance.
Fees Under UBS Wealth Management
The amount UBS Wealth Management’s clients pay in fees depends on the amount of money they have invested, as well as the investment strategy they are pursuing. Fees are generally payable on a quarterly basis. Most programs do not have a minimum annual fee.
The fee for a UBS Managed Portfolio account is 2.5% of assets. UBS non-discretionary programs likewise all have a fee of 2.5% of assets.
Other programs may have higher or lower fees. The UBS Advice Portfolio Account program has an annual fee of 1.25% of assets.
Clients of UBS Asset Management pay between 0.4% and 0.9% of assets, with lower rates for larger accounts.
The table below shows how UBS’ fees compare to two of its competitors, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. Keep in mind that these fees are estimates. Your actual fees will depend upon the vagaries of your specific account.
|Your Assets||UBS Wealth Management Managed Portfolio Account||Merrill Lynch Investment Advisory Program||Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Portfolio Management Program*|
*Assumes a 0.045% Platform Fee
Hiring a Third-Party Manager Through UBS
UBS also works with its clients to find third-party managers, with UBS serving as a matchmaker and consultant. One of these programs, ACCESS, gives UBS authority to hire a manager directly, while in the other, Managed Accounts Consulting, the client contracts directly with the manager, and UBS provides performance reports on your account.
For the latter, the relationship is directly between you and your financial advisor. That means that fees are negotiated between you and the advisor. In addition to the fees you pay UBS for arranging the relationship, you may end up with a higher total fee through this program, upward of 3% in some cases.
What to Watch out For
UBS is a large, multinational bank, with offices around the globe. This means that UBS financial advisors have access to a broad range of tools and research. On the other hand, it also means that UBS financial advisors may not have the flexibility of advisors at smaller firms to customize certain types of accounts. Therefore it’s important to make sure you understand the rules and limits of any particular program before signing up.
UBS has also faced a number of disciplinary actions by government regulators over the past decade - see below.
UBS has been subject to more than 20 disciplinary rulings in the past decade. Most recently, in September 2016, UBS was fined a total of $15 million by the SEC for actions regarding reverse convertible notes (RCNs). According to a UBS disclosure, the SEC order found that UBS “failed to reasonably supervise its RCN sales by failing to develop and implement adequate education and training for its Financial Advisors regarding certain aspects of single stock-linked RCNs.”
Other fines and censures have been levied against UBS by the state of Vermont, the U.S. Department of Justice, FINRA, the North American Securities Administrators Association and the Pennsylvania Securities Commission.
For example, according to another disclosure regarding an action brought against UBS by FINRA in 2012:
“FINRA alleged that the Firm failed to establish and maintain a supervisory system, including written procedures, reasonably designed to achieve compliance with NASD and FINRA rules in connection with the sale of non-traditional exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in accounts where the firm provided brokerage services to certain retail customers and the firm failed to provide adequate formal training and guidance to its registered representatives and supervisors regarding non-traditional ETFs.”
UBS does not favor a single investment philosophy, instead it offers its clients access to a broad range of philosophies and strategies. Strategic investment choices with UBS include:
- Tactical asset allocation
- Long and short investing
- Real estate investment trusts
Some financial advisors at UBS may incorporate their own investment philosophy into the advice they provide, so make sure to discuss investment approaches with your financial advisor.
Opening an Account With UBS Wealth Management
There are a number of ways to open an investment account through UBS. If you would like to meet with someone face-to-face contacting your local UBS branch office or UBS-affiliated financial advisor is your best bet. UBS also has a tool on its website that can help you locate an advisor by city or name.
Or, you can simply enter your own contact information and optional information about the services you are looking for and UBS will select a financial advisor to get in touch with you.
Before opening an account with UBS, you will need to complete an Advisory Relationship Agreement and Application. This agreement covers all possible types of accounts that a client can open with UBS Wealth Management, so some of the information contained within them may be superfluous to any individual investor. However, this enables UBS to open additional accounts for you in the future without needing to complete replicate paperwork.
What Types of Clients Does UBS Wealth Management Accept?
There is essentially no type of client that UBS Wealth Management cannot offer services to. Individuals and families have a multitude of financial advisor options through UBS Wealth Management. UBS Wealth Management also works with institutional clients such as corporations and charities.
UBS Asset Management works with large institutions, such as employee benefit plans of state and local governments as clients, endowments and insurance companies.
Where Is UBS Wealth Management Located?
UBS Wealth Management is a subsidiary of UBS AG, a financial services company headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. The U.S. headquarters of UBS Wealth Management is located in New York City, and there are smaller branch offices located all around the country.
Tips for Choosing a Financial Advisor
- Ask questions. You should consider multiple advisors before settling on one, and you should ask each of these advisors a number of questions. Ask an advisor to give you a full explanation of how his or her fee structure and approach to investing.
- In addition to interviewing advisors, do your own research. Form ADV, paperwork firms are required to file with the SEC, is a great resource. Here you can find information on a firm's available services, fee structure and client base. This is also where you can check to see if a firm has any disclosures.
- If you're still stuck, don't hesitate to get some guidance to ensure you find the right person to manage your money. SmartAdvisor, SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool, makes it easier to find an advisor to work with. Once you answer questions about your financial situation and what you're looking for an in an advisor, we'll match you with up to three fiduciaries near you.