UBS Wealth Management Review - MagnifyMoney
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UBS Wealth Management Review

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UBS is a massive financial institution with offices in over 50 countries across five continents. UBS Wealth Management USA, also known as UBS Financial Services, is a subsidiary in the United States that offers services including portfolio management and financial planning for individual and high net worth clients, and retirement plan consulting for businesses. It has branches and advisors throughout most of the U.S.

The bottom line: UBS Wealth Management is part of the global banking firm UBS, and offers portfolio management and financial planning to individual and institutional clients across the U.S.

  • Multiple investing models available
  • Wide range of minimums depending on program
  • Disciplinary disclosures reported

All information included in this profile is accurate as of September 14, 2021. For more information, please consult UBS Wealth Management’s website.

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Overview of UBS Wealth Management

UBS launched more than 150 years ago, when it first operated out of Switzerland as the Bank in Winterthur, which was founded in 1862. From there, it expanded into a global investment bank and wealth management firm with divisions in 50 countries around the world. The firm’s global headquarters is in Zurich, and its wealth management headquarters in the United States is based in Weehawken, New Jersey.

UBS is a publicly traded company on the NYSE. Its subsidiary, UBS Wealth Management USA, has approximately 15,000 employees, of which close to 10,000 perform investment advisory functions. UBS offers many services on top of wealth management, including retail banking and business consulting.

UBS Wealth Management’s pros

  • Wide selection of portfolio management programs: For portfolio management, UBS not only offers a choice between discretionary, non-discretionary and separately managed services. The firm also breaks it down even further with different programs to match a client’s investment goals and account size.
  • Matches clients to suitable advisors: When a client first joins the firm, they fill out a questionnaire explaining their investment goals. UBS Wealth Management then uses this information to recommend a good advisor match, even if that advisor is at another organization.
  • Many services available on top of investment advice: Besides portfolio management, UBS also offers financial planning, broker-dealer services, retail banking and retirement plan consulting.
  • Low minimum account sizes: Though there is a range of minimum investment requirements based on program type, it’s not necessary to be a high net worth investor to work with UBS. You may open an account with a minimum investment of just $5,000.
  • Award-winning performance: UBS has won a number of awards, including being named Top Wealth Manager in the World by ADV Ratings and Best Bank for Wealth Management in North America by Euromoney. In addition, many UBS financial advisors have been recognized as being top advisors by Barron’s. In 2021, 10 advisors from UBS were named to Barron’s Top 100 Women Financial Advisors list.

UBS Wealth Management’s cons

  • High potential fees: The firm’s asset-based fee rate can go all the way up to 2.50% for many programs, and the advisor can charge an additional manager fee on top of that. While this is simply the maximum rate that UBS can charge and you could end up paying less, the firm’s high potential ceiling may be a concern, especially since it doesn’t publish a set fee schedule for you to determine how much you’ll pay before entering into discussions with the firm. That said, many of the firm’s programs are wrap fee programs, which covers the cost of investment advice, the handling of investments through UBS and account reporting.
  • Possible incentive to recommend UBS products: Since UBS also offers banking, mutual funds and other services, advisors may have an incentive to recommend these products and services. The firm also earns commissions from processing trades and recommending investments at other organizations, which creates a financial incentive to make certain recommendations, posing a potential conflict of interest.
  • Lack of personal attention from a top investor: At smaller boutique RIAs, you might get portfolio recommendations from the leaders of the firm, including famous investors at some organizations. While UBS checks in on your performance once a year, you likely won’t get the same level of input from upper-level employees that you might get at a smaller organization.
  • Has disciplinary disclosures: Though not uncommon for many massive financial firms, UBS Wealth Management does have disciplinary disclosures. See more on this below.

What types of clients does Ameriprise Financial Services serve?

The majority of investors who work with UBS are high net worth individuals, defined by the SEC as those with at least $750,000 under an advisor’s management or a net worth believed to be at least $1.5 million. UBS notes on its website that it has extensive experience in handling the needs of high net worth and ultrahigh net worth individuals. However, having a high net worth is not a requirement to work with the firm, and it does also serve hundreds of thousands of non-high net worth investors.

The minimum investment amount needed to work with UBS depends on the program. UBS Wealth Management accepts some clients with as little as $5,000, but other programs can have investment minimums ranging up to $5 million. Here is the full list of minimum account size requirements for the firm’s different programs:

Discretionary advisory programs:

  • UBS Advice Portfolio Program: $5,000
  • Advisor Allocation Program: $25,000, but can be higher depending on strategy
  • Portfolio Management Program: $25,000

Separately managed account programs and unified managed account programs:

  • ACCESS: $25,000, though can vary by strategy or style
  • Managed Accounts Consulting (MAC): $100,000 or the manager’s minimum, whichever is greater; can be higher for certain accounts
  • Strategic Wealth Portfolio (SWP): $100,000, but can be higher depending on strategy

Non-discretionary advisory programs:

  • PACE Select: $10,000
  • PACE Multi: $5,000
  • UBS Strategic Advisor: $25,000 in eligible billable assets

Portfolio-based advisory program:

UBS Consolidated Advisory Program (UBS-CAP): $5 million relationship size

Services offered by UBS Wealth Management

For portfolio management, UBS offers both discretionary advisory programs, where the advisor can make trades on the client’s behalf, as well as non-discretionary advisory programs, where the client must approve all trades. The firm also offers separately managed accounts, where advisors who don’t work for UBS Wealth Management can access and manage a client’s portfolio on a discretionary basis. Within these categories, UBS Wealth Management has different programs with different goals and account minimum requirements.

In addition to portfolio management, UBS Wealth Management also offers a range of financial planning services to help clients with tasks such as getting ready for retirement and saving up for a college education. Additionally, the firm offers retail banking and brokerage services, as well as retirement plan consulting for businesses.

Here is a full list of services that UBS Wealth Management can provide its clients:

  • Investment advisory services/portfolio management
  • Financial planning
    • Retirement planning
    • Trust and estate planning
    • Charitable planning
    • Education planning
    • Long-term care planning
    • IRA and 401(k) rollovers
  • Retirement plan consulting
  • Selection of other advisors
  • Educational seminars and workshops
  • Newsletters and publications
  • Brokerage services
  • Retail banking

How UBS Wealth Management invests your money

As such a large organization with so many different advisors and programs, UBS doesn’t follow just one type of investment approach or philosophy. There are several different portfolio management programs from which clients can choose based on factors including their risk profile and the amount of assets they have to invest. Specifically, the firm offers the following categories of programs:

  • Discretionary programs
  • Non-discretionary programs
  • Unified managed account programs
  • Separately managed account programs
  • Portfolio based advisory programs

Strategies used by the firm in client portfolios may include proprietary models or research blends, long- and short-term investments and option writing. In some cases, strategies may include short sales and other so-called hedging techniques.

The types of investments used in client accounts depend on which program the client selects. For instance, the Strategic Wealth Portfolio is a unified managed account that may use separately managed accounts, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), whereas the PACE Select and Multi programs only use mutual funds.

Fees UBS Wealth Management charges for its services

For portfolio management and investment advisory services, the firm generally charges clients a wrap fee based on a percentage of assets under management. This fee covers the cost of investment advice, the handling of investments through UBS and account reporting.

Your rate will depend on which program, advisor and investment strategy you select. You will negotiate the rate at the start of your contract. Additionally, some programs offer the option to work under a fixed fee basis, or to pay a rate that varies based on asset levels.

In general, however, the firm institutes the following maximum asset-based fees for its programs:

UBS Wealth Management Fee Schedule for Discretionary Advisory Programs
Program Maximum annual fee
Advisor Allocation Program 2.50%
UBS Advice Portfolio Program 1.25%
Portfolio Management Program (PMP) 2.50%
UBS Wealth Management Fee Schedule for Separately Managed Account and Unified Managed Account Programs
Program Maximum annual fee
ACCESS 2.50%
Managed Accounts Consulting (MAC) 2.50%
Strategic Wealth Portfolio (SWP) 2.50%
UBS Wealth Management Fee Schedule for Non-Discretionary Advisory Programs
Programs Maximum annual fee
PACE Select 2.50%
PACE Multi 2.50%
UBS Strategic Advisor 2.50%
UBS Wealth Management Fee Schedule for Portfolio-Based Advisory Program
Programs Maximum annual fee
UBS Consolidated Advisory Program (UBS-CAP) 2.50%

On top of the asset-based fee listed in the tables above, some programs charge an additional manager fee paid to your investment advisor. Advisors can also earn commissions from completing trades as a broker-dealer or for referring you to third-parties for investment products. Finally, if your advisor recommends investments that are not covered by the wrap fee, such as trades with another broker-dealer, you would need to cover these investment costs.

If you hire UBS to put together a financial plan, you will typically pay a fixed fee. It can cost between $500 to $50,000 to develop your financial plan, though the firm’s brochure states that most clients pay between $1,000 to $10,000. Your exact rate will depend on a number of factors, including the range and complexity of services offered, the nature and amount of assets involved and the advisor’s business model. In addition, you’d need to cover the fees that come with launching your plan, such as for account transfers, investments and trusts.

UBS Wealth Management disciplinary disclosures

UBS Wealth Management discloses a number of disciplinary events from within the last decade. When an RIA registers with the SEC, it is required to disclose disciplinary actions taken against the firm and its investment advisors and affiliates on its Form ADV, paperwork that registered firms must file with the SEC. Disclosable offenses include civil judgments, criminal cases and regulatory fines from within the past 10 years.

Over the years, UBS Wealth Management has faced several multimillion-dollar fines related to allegations about not properly disclosing trading information, not registering with the proper authorities and not having the right price procedures in place for some products. Most recently, in 2020, the SEC alleged that UBS did not comply with certain retail order period restrictions in new issue municipal bond offerings. Specifically, the SEC alleged that it had allocated bonds intended for retail customers to customers who resold the bonds to other broker-dealers at a profit. The firm paid over $10 million to resolve the issue.

For more information on UBS Wealth Management and to view the firm’s disciplinary track record, you can go to its IAPD page.

UBS Wealth Management onboarding process

  1. Find a local advisor or branch: If you’d like to work with UBS Wealth Management, the first step is to find a local advisor or branch. On the firm’s website, you can enter in your ZIP code, and it will tell you the nearest locations. Another option is to fill out a brief form, providing your name, contact information, portfolio size and some information on what you need help with. UBS Wealth Management will use this information to find nearby advisors, and you’ll then fill out the new client questionnaire so the firm can help you pick the best advisor match, based on your goals.
  2. Meet with an advisor: During the first meeting with an advisor, they will get to know your financial goals, risk tolerance and timeline. From there, they will consider which of the UBS Wealth Management programs is the best fit and come up with a strategy for your portfolio.
  3. Stay in touch: The individual advisor will be in charge of keeping in touch with you and managing your portfolio. Once a year, UBS Wealth Management will check in on your portfolio’s performance and make sure the advisor is doing a good job, by comparing their portfolio recommendation against the appropriate market benchmarks.

Where UBS Wealth Management is located

UBS Wealth Management has approximately 370 office locations throughout the United States. In its Form ADV, the firm lists office locations in the following states. However, it also provides this map on its website that may highlight further office locations.

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Texas
  • Washington

Beyond its physical locations, UBS Wealth Management is also registered to serve investors in most states, as well as in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Is UBS Wealth Management right for you?

UBS Wealth Management is a large global financial institution, which has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on your goals. If you’re looking for lots of investment choices and a place that can handle all your financial needs, UBS Wealth Management may be a great fit. The firm offers all kinds of different investment programs as well as financial planning, retail banking and retirement plan consulting. It’s also nice that you can use some of its programs with a minimum investment as low as $5,000, making the firm accessible to all levels of investors.

But the firm’s size does have downsides. It can feel overwhelming navigating all of the different programs, and you won’t get personalized attention from senior management, like you might at a boutique RIA. In addition, UBS Wealth Management’s fees can potentially run high.

A lot depends on whether you get along with the local advisor you’re matched with, since they design the portfolio and negotiate the fees. Before you make your decision, be sure to research multiple firms to ensure you find the right advisor for you.

The “Find a Financial Advisor” links contained in this article will direct you to webpages devoted to MagnifyMoney Advisor (“MMA”). After completing a brief questionnaire, you will be matched with certain financial advisers who participate in MMA’s referral program, which may or may not include the investment advisers discussed.