UBS Wants to Double Its Wealth Management Headcount in Canada

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Financial advisors who know how to treat customers worth C$3 million to C$30 million and beyond are being courted by UBS. The Swiss bank's Canadian wealth management unit means to double its advisor headcount by 2015.

UBS' private banking arm has wealth management offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal, and is currently looking at Halifax, Kitchener, Ottawa and Edmonton as other possible markets.

Toronto-based Grant Rasmussen, chief executive of UBS Wealth Management Canada, told Reuters that UBS is in "a hiring mode." Rasmussen wants to take the company's wealth management ranks from 42 to 50 by the end of this year and to 100 within three to five years.

"We are looking for those who are experienced serving high net worth and ultra high net worth clients," says spokesman Graeme Harris.

Rasmussen believes there are about 250,000 Canadians who meet the criteria. Of the roughly 65,000 employees at UBS worldwide, only 400 are in Canada. Apart from wealth management, UBS has asset management and investment banking units in the country.

In addition, the Canadian operation is following the lead of Robert McCann, head of UBS' Americas Wealth Management, in pushing for more business from its mortgage-loan specialists. Whereas UBS is considering hiring internally for its mortgage outreach, outsourcing is also on the table. "We don't know how many people we're going to hire," says Harris, adding that "We have a number of options we need to explore and we're not under deadline to finalize (our plans)."

In the U.S., UBS plans to hire an initial 35 more mortgage experts in coming months, to work with financial advisers in its retail brokerage branches.

Critics have pointed to UBS' not-so-impressive history with sub-prime mortgage loans, but Harris says that's a different animal.

"The sub-prime crisis was based on the securitization of sub-prime. Here, we're not securitizing a product but lending to our existing client base who are high net-worth and ultra high net-worth."

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