UBS makes rare tweak to client account fees

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UBS is raising its minimum fee for client accounts by $25, the first change of its kind since 2009, according to a person familiar with the changes.

The firm is also changing how it charges these fees. Instead of the fee being associated with a single client-advisor relationship, which can include multiple accounts, the fee is now pegged per account.

Many clients may not see a fee increase because there are several waivers available and threshold limits. However, the policy shift may have a bigger impact on smaller producing advisors whose clients' asset levels fall below the $2 million threshold necessary for a fee waiver.

The changes take effect in 2018. However, clients won't see a bill until December of that year, giving them time to take advantage of potential waivers.

RMA fees will rise to $175 from $150, and IRA account fees will rise to $100 from $75. The maximum total fee levied per relationship remains unchanged at $500, according to the source.

The fee increase will apply to client households with $2 million or less in assets and liabilities. The threshold is up from $1 million under the current policy.

Although assets in qualified plans do not count towards the threshold, assets held away can qualify via the firm's aggregation tool.

Clients who maintain a UBS VISA Infinite credit card will not have to pay the fee at all, and neither will any of the accounts in that household. The firm introduced the card earlier this year. And customers who own the firm's other credit card, Visa Signature, can use points earned with the card to pay the fee (about 12,500 points for the $175 fee).

In addition, clients may qualify for a waiver by transferring $250,000 of net new money into a UBS account during 2018. Again, it excludes qualified plan assets.

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