The News: McCann's Plan For UBS Wealth Management Stresses Hanging On to Advisors

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Retaining high-producing financial advisors is the heart of UBS's plans for its Americas wealth management business, the division's chief says.

At a UBS conference Tuesday, Bob McCann, the head of UBS Wealth Management Americas division, told investors he has four planks for turning the business around: reducing attrition, continued cost-cutting, raising advisors' production, and expanding lending. He also acknowledged a "divide" between senior management and advisors caused a "significant morale problem," according to The Wall Street Journal.

Since Mr. McCann has taken the helm, the pace of financial advisers leaving the firm has slowed.

The attrition rate of advisers who generated more than $250,000 in annualized revenue was down to 8.8 percent in the first quarter, compared with 24 percent a year earlier....The advisers producing $1 million or more in revenue had a 6.1 percent attrition rate in the first quarter, down from nearly 32 percent a year ago.

Mr. McCann said he wants to see these levels below 5 percent. In an effort to encourage adviser retention, he initiated a loyalty-reward program, called Growth Plus, at the end of 2009.

UBS Wealth Management Americas' advisor count has declined to 6,870 advisers recently from 8,760 a year ago. McCann's target number is about 7,000. He'll focus the group on wealthier clients and higher-producing advisers. He also aims "to build a mortgage business and increase the other loans it offers through the bank, to increase the asset and liability side of clients' balance sheets."

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