UBS New Boss: Management Cuts And ‘Client Interaction’ Surveillance

Well, that’s going to leave a mark. In a fairly innocuous article a few weeks ago, newly minted and incoming UBS Wealth Management boss, Iqbal Khan, made it clear that a full third of management positions in the wealth division are set to get smoked. Ouch.

If that wasn’t enough to get your attention, then this quote should have:

“In the memo, the executives said client interaction remains at the heart of the bank’s offering, and that from this year, UBS will use new tools to track the time its staff spend with clients, to encourage better service.


So we took to the phones yesterday and talked to several different managers at the firm to get a pulse of what they expect to happen now, and throughout 2020.

A manager in California responded this way, “Khan is known for this, so if anyone expected any different, they aren’t playing the game right. Just like unhappy advisors are aware of other firms, if not genuinely engaged in ongoing due diligence, so should managers at this firm be. If you are asking about the overall climate right now – the ‘tools to track’ is having the most impact. Everyone is concerned about that one.”

A manager in Florida said this about the ‘tools to track’, “that is chilling. Look, we get that the firm is tracking just about everything that happens on your desktop… my question is what comes next? It gives you an idea of why Merrill is about to issue company-wide phones. For just the reason above. That moves this question beyond keystrokes, but now into geo-location, voice, text. Not good.”

A regional director in NYC added, “the management cuts – nothing new and has been happening bite by bite for a decade – so survival of the fittest. The tracking of client interactions has everyone on edge, but I guess if you have nothing to hide you either don’t give a -bleep-, or it bothers you from a legitimate privacy standpoint. What other data and info will they come across at the same time that they are monitoring ‘client interactions’.”

Some management cuts at the firm have already started, with a guy like Pete Kaldis, in Ohio catching an axe before the holidays via a restructuring in the Midwest. More reductions like that will cross the wires throughout the first and second quarters of 2020.

Given the announcements out of the firm in the past few months (grid debacle, expense cuts, management cuts, protocol exit, now client interaction tracking), it feels like the suits are preparing for an ever-shrinking advisor force. Instead of drawing a red line at 6,000 advisors, the next stop may be 5,000?

Otherwise, why clearly upset the very employees (advisors) who on a daily basis are the geese that lay the golden eggs? Bizarre.

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