UBS Sales Reorg Creates Branch and Complex Ripples

18 Dec    Investing News

The restructuring of UBS Wealth Management USA’s senior sales executives has trickled down to local leaders, with at least four longtime managers losing their positions, according to three people familiar with the changes.

Complex managers Michael L. Goldfader in West Los Angeles, Peter B. Kaldis in Northern Ohio, and Robert L. Karem, who oversaw four private wealth management offices from Atlanta, are being shifted, they said. They have worked in the brokerage industry for 28, 34, and 41 years respectively, with each spending at least half of their careers at UBS and predecessor PaineWebber.

Another manager, Sam Messina in Rochester, NY, also has gone back to full-time production, said two other sources.

The changes follow UBS’s trimming of its three U.S. sales divisions in nearly 40 geographic markets by half and cost-savings measures that have led this year to the departures of scores of client sales associates and other support officials. Meanwhile, UBS’s brokerage force of U.S. advisors has fallen below 6,100 even as it carries out other regional restructuring, said two sources who cited internal ranking numbers.

A spokeswoman at UBS said she could not comment on specific changes in management, or whether senior executives and managers affected by the reorganization have found new positions within the firm.

Karem, a 41-year industry veteran who spent all but four with UBS, declined to comment. Aside from a four-year stint at A.G. Edwards beginning in 1982, he has spent his entire brokerage career at UBS, and is a respected manager within the UBS private wealth unit for advisors serving $10-million-and-up clients.

He helped open the Atlanta private wealth management office in 2007 and the year before was awarded UBS’s Edward Connolly leadership award, “the highest and most coveted award a field leader can earn at UBS,” according to his web biography.

Executives at UBS AG have positioned wealth management services to the very wealthy as the Swiss bank’s core priority because of the much more stable revenue flows it provides than trading and investment banking. But the firm’s new cohead of global wealth management also signaled sweeping changes in recent days to the structure of the business, leading to questions about the organizational structure of private wealth in the U.S.

In a memo to employees last week, U.S. Wealth Management sales head Jason Chandler said the firm plans to open “private wealth service hubs” in New York, Florida, Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco/Los Angeles to support brokers “who choose to focus on serving clients with more complex needs.” But he also wrote that private client group head John Mathews is retaining his position.

Goldfader, who had been running the wealth management offices in Beverly Hills and its satellites since 2016, did not return a request for comment. He began his career as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch in 1990, but has been with UBS since 1998 and moved into management as branch manager in Irvine, California in 2004, according to his firm biography.

Sources said he is likely to continue as manager of the Beverly HIlls branch. UBS has lost several teams of high-producing southern California advisors in recent weeks.

Like Karem, Goldfader also has won a Connolly leadership award, in 2009, and had fairly strong support for advisors in his market, the sources said.

Kaldis, who did not return a call for comment, has been a registered rep since 1986, beginning at Merrill Lynch in Columbus, Ohio and becoming a Merrill manager in Florida in 1994. He joined UBS in 2001 as a market area manager in Michigan, also has served as regional director for the Mid-America region, complex director for the Northbrook/Wisconsin market, and head of the Cleveland-area market based in the  suburb of Pepper Pike to oversee northern Ohio.

“Throughout his career, Pete has been recognized for his coaching leadership, as well as his commitment to partnering with Financial Advisors to help them better serve their clients,” according to his UBS biography.

Messina has been with UBS since 2007, and once served as head of the private client group of McDonald & Co., the Cleveland-based regional firm that was a predecessor firm of UBS. He began his brokerage career in 1981 with Dean Witter Reynolds, and also has worked at Burgess & Leith, Advest and Rochester-based regional firm Essex Capital before it was purchased by McDonald in 1998.

— Jed Horowitz contributed to this story.

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