UBS Comp Changes Shock; “Biggest grid changes I’ve ever seen…”

UBS thinks it’s a good idea to play with fire. That’s the best explanation we can come up with when evaluating the 2020 comp changes that have been leaked. In this sense, playing with fire is a catchy way of saying they feel comfortable going to war with their own advisors. 

The changes that are set to be announced (or maybe they won’t be if the backlash is as visceral as we think it will be) antagonizes every size of advisor and advisor team. No one seems to be spared. 

For the life of us we can’t figure out why UBS is choosing to ignore the first rule of dealing with any wealth managements biggest producers – first, do no harm. Nope. They’ve decided they want to double down on advisor losses that have somewhat defined the firm in 2019. 

A few details regarding the specific changes from AdvisorHub: 

“The 2020 compensation changes, expected to be announced to the firm’s more than 6,000 U.S. brokers on Tuesday, will raise hurdles from the bottom to the top of UBS ranks, with particularly steep rises for mid-level and top producers.”

“Brokers who this year retain 39%, 42%, 49% and 50% of what they raise from customers will have to produce $200,000 more in the new plan to hit the comparable 2020 production bands, according to summaries of the plan reviewed by AdvisorHub.”

So if you are reasonably proficient at math that looks like anywhere from a 10-30% increase in grid expectations just to receive the same % payout. Every UBS advisor is getting a kick in the crotch as a holiday gift. 

And if you think that larger teams are better off, think again…

“In addition to raising the bar for individual brokers, UBS Wealth Management Americas is raising requirements for team payouts.  Teams must generate a combined $6 million and have average FA production of $1.2 million to qualify for the “combined” grid payout of at least 48% to all members. That’s up from a team production minimum of $5 million and average FA production of $1 million in the 2019 plan.”

You can expect advisors and local management to be righteously indignant about these changes. And you can also expect UBS advisors to spend more time on the phone with recruiters in the next 3 months. 

**Seriously, who made this decision? It feels reckless given that UBS lost nearly 5% of its advisor force to competitors in 2019. Expect more commentary and fallout in the coming days and weeks. 

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