UBS Wealth Management Americas has announced some big changes in its structure and leadership, as new chief Bob McCann, and his team of former colleagues from Merrill Lynch push ahead with their mission to “renew” the struggling division.

In an internal memo, Bob Mullholland, who was named as head of the UBS [UBS] advisor force less than three weeks ago, announced that the firm will go from having three regions in the U.S. down to just two “divisions”. The Eastern division will be headed by David McWilliams and the Western division will be headed by Michael Schweitzer. McWilliams worked at Merrill Lynch [BAC] for 30 years before joining UBS last year. Schweitzer joined UBS in 2003 after 15 years at Merrill Lynch.

In the memo, Mulholland said the change would make the organization more “nimble and efficient.”

In an exclusive interview with On Wall Street, Paula Polito, the firm’s new marketing chief and member of the renewal team, said the team had been working long hours and “getting deep into the business” since their arrival last November.“That’s exactly what you need to do. This kind of opportunity doesn’t come along very often and we’re at a transition period to really build a very successful business and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” she said.

Rick Peterson, a Houston-based industry recruiter said the move makes sense. He points out that Merrill Lynch only has three regions to cover over 15,000 advisors, while UBS had three regions for just 7000 advisors. “They’ve laid off the Indians, now is the time to start laying off some chiefs,” Peterson added.

Meanwhile Jason Chandler, the former head of the Northeast region, was named as the new head of the firm’s ultra-high-net-worth Private Wealth Management business. He replaces John Straus, who will become head of strategic client relationships, a newly created position. Mulholland Straus’ new role would involve working with advisors, private wealth advisors, management and investment bankers to provide “comprehensive private wealth services” to clients.

Bob Ellis, head of the wealth management practice at consulting firm Novarica, says McCann is clearly putting his imprint on the organization. “He has a vision and he’s a very smart and experienced guy,” he said. But, despite all the firm’s denials to the contrary, Ellis still believes the division will be spun off. “I think they’re making the organization as lean and efficient as possible so it has more credibility as a standalone organization,” he said. “And I think Bob McCann sees himself as head of that independent organization.”

In addition, Mulholland announced that Paul Santucci will be the new chief operating officer for the wealth management advisor group. Santucci joined UBS in 2003 from Wachovia Securities [WFC] and was previously head of recruiting for the firm. As chief operating officer, Mulholland said Santucci will be responsible for recruiting and talent development.

In an earlier memo, McCann announced that Diane Frimmel is stepping down as the chief operating officer of the whole wealth management division. She will become head of the emerging affluent segment, including the firm’s investment center. In another internal memo, McCann described Frimmel as a “key member” of UBS for more than 30 years. Tom Naratil is acting as interim chief operating officer of the group until a replacement is named.

Bill Carroll, currently the firm’s market area manager for New Jersey, has been named as the national sales manager. He replaces Mara Glassel, who has been in the role for over four years. Mulholland said Glassel is now “looking at other opportunities to leverage her skills within the organization.”

Meanwhile, the New York and New Jersey markets will also be combined into one metropolitan region led by Chris Amo, who is currently the area manager for New York City.


Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Financial Planning content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access