UBS Lures $3-Mln Merrill Duo in NJ, Reshapes Midwest and West Coast Complexes
(Corrects quoted phrase in third paragraph to “major metropolitatn areas,” not “major metropolitan markets.”)
UBS Wealth Management USA this week unfurled a restructuring in the Midwest and on the West Coast, even as it celebrated an exception to its long-running expense constraints by luring two Merrill Lynch veterans in New Jersey producing around $3 million.
In memos sent Monday to West and Midwest division employees, executives said they were combining branch complexes and eliminating management positions in northern California, Hawaii, Illinois, Ohio and Oklahoma.
“A key success element we have found that accelerates growth is to align markets in our major metropolitan areas,” West Division Director Jennifer Povlitz and Midwest Division Director Heather Crist wrote in separate missives with identically worded explanations. “When our larger cities are led and managed by a single, cohesive team, we benefit from strong client successes and business results.”
The changes follow the Swiss banking giant’s report last week of a continuing outflow of client money and advisors from its American wealth operations, and a recommitment to expense reductions.
On the West Coast, UBS has folded its five-branch San Francisco/Hawaii complex that was led by Michael R. Williams. Its flagship branch in the city by the Bay, and its Marin County branch, will be folded into the Northern California complex run by former Walnut Creek complex manager Erin Borger.
“Erin’s proactive and creative leadership are well-matched for San Francisco/Northern California’s innovation and wealth creation opportunity,” wrote Povlitz, who vaulted to the West Division post in December after managing a southern California complex.
The firm’s Honolulu, Fresno and Merced offices will become part of the six-branch Silicon Valley complex managed by Rob Giordano, according to the memo.
Williams, who has worked at UBS and predecessor firms Rotan Mosle and PaineWebber for his entire 39-year career, will manage the San Francisco branch, Povlitz wrote.
In the Midwest, another veteran is leaving amid the reorganization.
Dennis Drescher, who has been with UBS for the last 16 years of his four-decade brokerage career and currently manages its Chicago Tower complex, “has informed us of his intent to retire,” wrote Crist, who joined UBS last year from Wells Fargo Advisors.
His complex has been combined with a second Windy City branch group into a single “Chicago market” composed of five Illinois branches and three in Wisconsin. It is being managed by Greg Achten, a former Cincinnati complex manager who joined UBS from Merrill Lynch three years ago. Craig Tomasino, the former “metro Chicago” complex manager, is shifting to branch manager of the firm’s Oak Brook, Ill. office, Crist wrote
UBS is similarly consolidating three Ohio complexes into two, and shifting its Tulsa and Oklahoma City branches into UBS’s “midwest market” run by Mike Mimick, according to her memo.
Drescher, who has a law degree and had served previously as Midwest region director, was saluted in a separate memo from Jason Chandler, the head of the firm’s approximately 6,300 U.S. brokers.
“At times you have the opportunity and benefit to work with great people that make such a significant impact in seemingly every aspect of life—their profession, their community, with their family and loved ones—and you only hope that you can learn from them and make a positive difference as they have. Dennis Drescher…is one of those people,” Chandler wrote.
Drescher did not return a request for comment.
Amid the contractions, UBS continues to selectively hire large producers.
The New Jersey brokers who arrived from Merrill last Thursday are Joseph Berkery and Eric Tomsky, who worked at Thundering Herd branches in Red Bank and Summit for 32 and almost 31 years, respectively. They jointly produced about $3 million in fees and commisions over the past 12 months on customer assets of just over $970 million, said two people familiar with their business.
Berkery confirmed that his four-person team had moved last Thursday, but declined to comment further.
The Swiss banking company remains committed to its recruiting slowdown in the United States, UBS Group Chief Executive Sergio Ermotti said last week, but will selectively hire experienced brokers serving ultra-high-net-worth clients.The UBS consolidation, announced a day before Wells Fargo Advisors revealed a new branch management structure, became effective as of Wednesday, May 1, the division executives said in their memos.