Wealth Management vs Private Banks
A good time to re-visit some of the differences I see with both offerings as we see UBS re-enter the Australian wealth market following the takeover of Credit Suisse.
As has been stated, the “jewel in the crown” for the operations here is the private banking business, the only remaining global private bank in town and with an enviable client list.
And why would UBS want to re-enter a market it successfully existed 8 years ago with the management buy-out and renamed to Crestone (which was subsequently taken over by LGT). The answer seems that the private bank model, rather that the grid system wealth manager model fits in with the global UBS plan.
Anyone that has met with wealth managers in Australia knows the fee structure – a percentage of the fee to the house and a percentage to the advice team. The old UBS Wealth was more like a broker, offering wealth management advice alongside stock trading ideas and flow from the equity capital markets team. It most likely didn’t sit quite as well with the Swiss Private Bank model in other jurisdictions and had high staff costs, compliance and lumpier revenue.
Credit Suisse Private Bank model, which provides a salary plus bonus structure to staff is more aligned with UBS’s offering in other countries. Whilst not as lucrative during great times, the lower staff costs can provide a ballast during leaner periods as trading revenue declines. CS local business also competes well on balance sheet lending, and their External Asset Management (EAM) offering is often used by UHWN advisers.
As the local chief was quoted in the Australian Financial Review: “We do not operate under the brokerage [grid] model used by other international wealth managers. Our relationship managers ... do not receive product-based trail commissions,” said Mr Marr.
The AFR also mentioned that the bankers are not incentivised to offer one product over another which is unlike most of the classic “adviser” models.
It seems that UBS has been delivered a very good private bank team with a great client book and steady revenue. I would say that CS staff are also happy they have a good brand again via UBS and can provide advice via a globally recognised platform.
For Hall Road clients, it adds a Private Bank model that can tap into the global UBS network with less concerns over their global risk management and will mean they no longer have go via Singapore.
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