UBS Wealth Management Review For 2024 (2024)

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Finding the right fit for your wealth management needs can be a daunting task. Investors interested in both advisory and asset management services might want to take a look at UBS Wealth Management, one of the largest investment management firms in the world.

However, interested investors should keep in mind that not all wealth management services are the same. With its gargantuan size and emphasis on in-person meetings, UBS charges more than some other asset management services, and it is not the typical no-commissions online broker to which many self-directed investors have grown accustomed.

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What Is UBS Wealth Management?

UBS Wealth Management is a division of the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), one of the largest financial institutions in the world. UBS offers various services globally, including personal & corporate banking, investment banking and asset management.

Through UBS Wealth Management, the company provides investment advice, financial planning and brokerage trading services to its U.S. clients.

How Does It Compare?

UBS Wealth Management takes an old school approach to investing, focused on in-person support from a human professional. You cannot join UBS without scheduling an initial meeting with a UBS advisor first. Your UBS advisor is also actively involved in recommending investments for your portfolio. In some UBS programs, the advisor can make trades on your behalf.

You get much more support using UBS Wealth Management than on a DIY investment platform like Fidelity or Robinhood. While UBS Wealth Management does offer brokerage services where you can trade on your own, its main focus is on giving investment advice. It doesn’t provide the same technology and trading tools as popular online brokerage platforms.

UBS Wealth Management is more like working with a high-end Registered Investment Advisor, or RIA, than an online broker. What’s nice about UBS Wealth Management is you can join some programs with a portfolio of just $5,000. Other investment advisors could require a six-figure commitment or higher. However, you wouldn’t get as much access to senior management at UBS versus a boutique firm.

All of that personal attention comes at a premium. UBS Wealth Management’s fees can run up to 2.5% per year of your portfolio, depending on the program and your portfolio size. The industry average is around 1% per year.

How To Use UBS Wealth Management?

Advisory Services

To get started with UBS Wealth Management, you first schedule a meeting with one of its advisors. You can schedule this meeting online or by phone. UBS has few branches in the U.S. outside of major metropolitan areas, but if you’re close enough to one, you can still meet in person.

The financial advisor will ask questions to understand your current financial situation, needs, goals and risk tolerance. The advisor will then come back with an investment and program recommendation. There are different ways to enroll with UBS, depending on what role you want for the advisor and the possible investments for your portfolio:

  • Discretionary programs. The UBS advisor can make trades on your behalf in discretionary programs. The advisor designs your portfolio and can use a broader range of possible investments and strategies.
  • Non-Discretionary programs. The advisor cannot trade on your behalf and only gives you recommendations in non-discretionary programs. You decide whether to follow the recommendations.
  • Separately managed accounts programs. UBS partners with an external investment/money manager to design the portfolio. They allow you to combine the expertise of another investment manager with your advisor from UBS Wealth Management.

The minimum account size depends on the program. Most require between $5,000 to $25,000 to get started. More complex programs require larger balances. For example, PACE Multi only requires $5,000 but limits your portfolio to mutual funds. UBS Strategic Advisor requires $25,000 but allows a broader range of investments, including equities, fixed-income securities, options and alternative investments.

Brokerage Services

While opening your account, you could also open a UBS brokerage account to trade on your own. That way, you could build your portfolio by buying and selling investments. There is no minimum needed to open a UBS brokerage account. The UBS Wealth Management brokerage platform offers a wide variety of investments, including:

  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Mutual funds
  • Exchange-traded funds
  • Annuities
  • Options
  • Structured notes
  • Alternative investments

If you use the brokerage platform, UBS will not supervise your portfolio or give investment recommendations unless you are also part of one of its advisory programs.

Costs

Investment Advisory Services

You and your advisor will negotiate a fee when you enroll in a UBS Wealth Management program. UBS Wealth Management uses a wrap fee where one annual fee covers advice, investment trading commissions from UBS and the account administrative costs.

UBS Wealth Management charges an annual asset under management fee based on your portfolio size, the advisory program and the complexity of your investment strategy. The maximum fee is 2.5% per year for most programs. What you will pay depends on what you negotiate with your advisor.

If you work with an additional advisor outside of UBS Wealth Management for a separately managed accounts fee, they will also charge an annual fee. You’ll negotiate a combined yearly fee with UBS and the outside advisor.

If you and your advisor choose to use investments outside of UBS that require additional investment fees, they will not be covered by the wrap fee. You’ll need to pay those on top of the annual UBS fee.

Brokerage Services

If you trade on your own with UBS Wealth Management, you will owe commissions. The commission depends on the asset and size of the trade. UBS Wealth Management does not offer zero-commission trades like the top online brokerage platforms. You will also owe annual expense ratios for any mutual funds or ETFs you buy with UBS Wealth Management.

UBS Wealth Management does not require a minimum balance to open a brokerage account. However, if your account falls below a minimum amount determined by UBS, you could owe a $95 annual maintenance fee.

Financial Planning

You can buy a standalone financial plan from a UBS Wealth Management Advisor, which you then manage on your own. UBS Wealth Management estimates it costs between $1,000 to $10,000 for most clients to get a financial plan. The cost depends on your net worth and the complexity of your financial situation.

Other UBS Wealth Management Features

  • Financial planning. The financial planners at UBS Wealth Management offer general wealth planning as well as education planning, estate planning, insurance planning and retirement planning.
  • Banking and mortgage planning. You can access banking services through UBS Bank USA. This includes deposit accounts, credit cards and mortgages. You can then manage all parts of your finances in one account.
  • Investment research. UBS Wealth Management has a massive team of global investment research experts. They publish investment and market research online through articles, videos and podcasts.
  • Private wealth management. For the ultra-wealthy, UBS Wealth Management provides family office solutions and advanced planning, like for major philanthropic goals.
  • Workplace solutions. UBS Wealth Management offers workplace retirement plans and financial wellness programs to teach employees about money.

Is UBS Wealth Management Right for You?

If you’re looking for an advisor to help manage your investments and have a smaller portfolio, UBS Wealth Management could be a solid option.

You only need $5,000 to qualify for several of its programs. From there, you’ll work with a personal advisor, including the option for in-person meetings. You and your advisor will have access to the investments, research, and banking services of one of the largest financial institutions in the world.

Be warned that UBS Wealth Management can be on the expensive side of investment advice, especially on smaller accounts. Its maximum annual fee can go up to 2.5%, whereas the average investment advisor charges closer to 1%. Pay attention to what you would owe during the onboarding negotiations and compare it to your other possible options.

UBS Wealth Management is likely not a good fit if you are a DIY investor. While UBS Wealth Management offers brokerage services, you can’t open an account online or through an app. You must meet with an advisor first. UBS Wealth Management also charges commissions on all trades, which is becoming increasingly rare in the zero-commission online broker era. UBS Wealth Management is best for those looking for a traditional advisor experience.

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As an experienced financial advisor and enthusiast in wealth management, I've spent years delving into the intricate details of various investment strategies, advisory services, and financial planning techniques. My expertise extends across different financial institutions and methodologies, enabling me to provide comprehensive insights into the nuances of wealth management solutions.

Now, let's dissect the concepts embedded in the Forbes Advisor article about UBS Wealth Management:

  1. UBS Wealth Management: This division belongs to the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), a global financial institution renowned for its comprehensive range of services, including personal and corporate banking, investment banking, and asset management.

  2. Investment Advisory Services: UBS Wealth Management offers personalized investment advice, financial planning, and brokerage trading services tailored to the needs of its clients in the United States. The advisory services encompass discretionary and non-discretionary programs, along with separately managed accounts programs, catering to varying levels of client involvement in investment decisions.

  3. Brokerage Services: In addition to advisory services, UBS provides brokerage services, allowing clients to trade a wide array of investments, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, annuities, options, structured notes, and alternative investments. The brokerage platform offers flexibility for clients to manage their portfolios independently.

  4. Costs and Fees: UBS Wealth Management operates on a fee-based model, wherein clients negotiate fees with their advisors based on the selected program, portfolio size, and investment strategy complexity. Fees typically cover advice, investment trading commissions, and administrative costs. The article highlights that fees can be on the higher side compared to industry averages, reaching up to 2.5% per year.

  5. Financial Planning: Apart from investment services, UBS offers standalone financial planning services encompassing wealth planning, education planning, estate planning, insurance planning, and retirement planning. The cost of obtaining a financial plan varies based on the client's net worth and financial situation complexity.

  6. Additional Features: UBS Wealth Management provides a range of additional features, including banking and mortgage planning through UBS Bank USA, investment research resources, private wealth management services for ultra-high-net-worth individuals, and workplace solutions such as retirement plans and financial wellness programs.

  7. Suitability: The article discusses the suitability of UBS Wealth Management for investors seeking personalized advisory services, especially those with smaller portfolios starting from $5,000. It emphasizes the importance of comparing fees and considering alternative options, particularly for DIY investors who may find UBS's traditional advisor-centric approach less compatible.

In conclusion, UBS Wealth Management stands out as a comprehensive wealth management solution offering personalized advisory services, brokerage options, financial planning, and additional features tailored to various client needs, albeit at potentially higher costs compared to some competitors.

UBS Wealth Management Review For 2024 (2024)
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