UBS’s wealth management business in the Americas continued losing financial advisors but invested assets in the unit rose nonetheless, the company says.
The firm had 6,549 advisors in the Americas at the end of 2019, compared to 6,627 in the third quarter of 2019 and 6,850 in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the company’s fourth-quarter earnings report. Its global advisor ranks continued shrinking as well, with the company ending the year with 10,077 advisors worldwide, compared to 10,217 in the third quarter and 10,677 at the end of 2018, the company says.
The firm also had $9 billion in net outflows in the Americas and a total of $4.7 billion globally, according to the report.
But in a call with analysts, CEO Sergio Ermotti said the departing money was low margin, according to The New York Times.
"We have always believed that in this regard (to net new money), quality beats quantity," Ermotti said during the call, according to the paper.
Invested assets in the Americas rose to $1.4 trillion at the end of the fourth quarter, up from $1.3 trillion in the third quarter of 2019 and $1.2 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the report. Globally, invested assets reached $2.6 trillion at the end of 2019, a 5% increase from the previous quarter and a 17% increase year over year, the company says. And global client assets reached $2.9 trillion at the end of 2019, a 5% increase from the previous quarter and a 15% increase year over year, according to the report.
Operating income for the unit overall remained relatively flat in the fourth quarter of 2019, at $4.15 billion, compared to $4.14 billion in the third quarter and $4.13 in the fourth quarter of 2018, UBS says. Operating profit in the fourth quarter was $766 million, a drop of 14% from the previous quarter but a 134% increase from the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the report.
UBS has set a 10% to 15% growth target for its wealth management unit, the company says. UBS also provided more detail on the previously reported revamp of its wealth management unit. This includes extending its Global Family Office capabilities to 1,500 clients as part of the expansion of the unit’s partnership with the firm’s investment bank and asset management division, according to UBS.