UBS Hires 16.7-Mln Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Team

20 Jan    Investing News

(Corrects story to say that Charles Wickham remains at Merrill Lynch.)

UBS Wealth Management USA on Friday hired a private wealth team of career Merrill Lynch advisors in Charlotte, North Carolina, who were producing about $16.7 million in revenue.

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R. Mitchell Wickham and Gregory M. Cash joined UBS with 15 other advisors and support staff, UBS said in a press release.

The team, which had included founder Charles L. Wickham, Mitchell’s father, had been overseeing $10.8 billion in client assets, according to a person at UBS familiar with their practice, who also provided their production number. The elder Wickham will remain until August at Merrill, where he is participating in its book-transition program.

More than 80% of their assets and $6 million of their revenue came from clients of Merrill’s “money manager services” business, which provides custody and clearing for retail clients of family offices and money management firms, according to two other sources. The Wickham group began their search in May 2019 after Merrill, whose parent Bank of America is based in Charlotte, said it would close MMS, which is used by a very small number of Merrill brokers, by the end of 2020.

Neither Mitchell Wickham nor Cash returned a call for comment left at their UBS office.

They worked with around 60 ultra-wealthy families, according to a 2011 profile. Cash and Mitchell Wickham were among a small group of veteran PBIG brokers who Merrill rewarded in a recognition program for rapidly growing assets and household accounts in 2018.

Charles Wickham joined Merrill in 1960 after four years as a U.S. Navy officer, according to a biography on his former firm’s website. Mitchell Wickham affiliated with him in 1999 after five years in commercial real estate, his biography said, while Cash joined them in 2001 after arriving at Merrill in 1997.

The team knew Brian P. Hull, a former Merrill manager who joined UBS in 2009 as part of an executive migration from the Thundering Herd led by Bob McCann. Hull, who rose to become head of UBS Wealth Management USA’s 6,000 advisors before shifting to executive vice chairman of the Americas last year, declined to comment.

“Wickham Cash Partners will be a strong addition to our private wealth management business, as we continue to expand our local presence in Charlotte and the Carolinas,” John Mathews, head of UBS’s private wealth management unit in the U.S., said in a prepared statement.

UBS in mid-2016 curtailed its expensive hiring of veteran brokerage teams in an effort to cut the overhang of $3 billion of forgivable loans that McCann extended before his retirement at the end of 2015. In recent months, however, it has urged managers to selectively hire big teams. The U.S. wealth business also recently reorganized its sales management organization.

As of September 30, 2019, UBS’s brokerage force in the U.S., Latin America and Canada had declined to 6,627 brokers, a net loss of 283 from a year earlier. About 6,100 are based In the U.S., according to several UBS advisers, ranking the firm at less than half the size of the brokerage force at Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo Advisors.

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