UBS: No Return-to-Office Mandate For U.S. Brokers
UBS Wealth Management USA said on Wednesday that its sales force of around 6,000 U.S. brokers can keep flexible work-from-home arrangements adopted during the Covid-19 pandemic even as restrictions subside and vaccines have become widely available.
The policy, announced internally on Monday, makes the wirehouse one of the first major firms to officially confirm that it won’t be mandating a return to office for brokers, recruiters say. Companies have been balancing a workforce that has grown accustomed to flexibility and possible real-estate cost savings with additional supervisory concerns and potential loss of culture with a diffused workforce.
“It’s very progressive,” said Philip Waxelbaum, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based recruiter and former brokerage executive. “It’s going to be exciting for the existing UBS advisor and probably will create a high level of enthusiasm for recruits talking to UBS.”
Seasoned producers industry-wide had often taken a day or two off each week during the Summer or worked from vacation homes for a stint, but it was rare for advisors to be entirely remote, Waxelbaum said.
While it extended its flexible arrangement for advisors, UBS put in place some restrictions for its field leadership and advisor support staff. Field leadership roles and client associates can expect “limited” flexible home working, generally up to 1-2 days per week.
The UBS spokesman declined to comment on feedback since the policy was announced, or how it will adjust real estate based on the number of advisors who ultimately return full time to the office.
The move could put pressure on other full service firms to maintain looser restrictions around attendance. Some, including Raymond James, have been testing flexible work space as they consider remote-work options for brokers in the long-term.
Other wirehouses have stopped short of mandating brokers return to the office amid ongoing concerns about vaccinations but have begun to nudge brokers back to the office. Some veterans have resisted the push, citing comfort in working from home or discomfort of wearing masks while in office.
Leadership at Morgan Stanley, for example, has verbally signaled the end of work-from-home on a corporate level, but whether that materializes into return mandates for brokers–and whether brokers will comply with those mandates–is yet to be seen.
“If you can go into a restaurant in New York City, you can come into the office,” James Gorman, chief executive of Morgan Stanley, said at an industry conference earlier this month.
Although Morgan Stanley has reopened its branches, it has also told some of its roughly 16,000 brokers that effective Thursday, they will need a negative Covid test within three days prior to entering one of its branches if they are not vaccinated, according to an internal memo.