UBS Sends Bankers Back to School

In Asia, UBS aims to further extend the lead over its competitors in the lucrative business segment of super rich clients.

UBS, Switzerland's biggest bank, has decided to open an academy for client advisors tending to the super rich, the company said in a statement. Customers with $50 million and more both contribute significantly to the success of the bank, but are at the same time very demanding in their needs.

Within UBS's Wealth Management division, Josef Stadler (pictured below) and a crew of 1,200 client advisers are taking care of the UHNW, the 'Ultra High Net Worth Individuals'. They are outperforming their colleagues in the division by 20 percent.

Since Stadler took charge of the UHNW segment, assets under management belonging to UNHW customers increased 7 to 10 percent annually. Their most important market today is Asia.

Josef Stadler 501 kopie

«The Bank»

Asian millionaires call UBS «the bank». The Swiss institution, which a few years ago was on the brink of collapse and had to call in the state for help, wants to the retain the status earned with this clientele and extend it even further.

Part of the process to further its reputation among the very rich is the opening of its UHNW Academy. All 1,200 client advisers will have to go to school again, improving on their skills in taking care of the very rich clients.

Singapore – the Private-Banking Hub in Asia

The academy opened its doors in Singapore at the end of last week. The city-state is the private-banking hub of Asia, where the number of billionaires increases the quickest rate.

«Wealthy clients seek professionals who understand their unique challenges, passions and ambitions,» Stadler said at the opening of the academy. «By nurturing such relationships, we want to become the partner of choice for UHNW clients worldwide.»

Soft Skills

Understanding the demands and needs of super rich clients doesn't mean that the client advisers have to improve on the asset allocation skills. UBS has specialists taking care of how a portfolio is put together.

The client adviser however needs to have the necessary soft skills to properly understand and perceive the complex and individual needs of the clients. And many of the clients especially in Asia have created their wealth themselves.

No One Is the Same

Unlike for the 'normal' client of a bank, UHNW clients aren't met with a standard wealth management plan. The UBS UNHW Academy is training the advisers how to better engage with a client and strengthen his emotional ties to the bank.

The basic module at the academy is thus called «Ultra DNA», with four other courses aimed at ultra- and institutional investments, dialogue with an entrepreneur from day one at the start-up phase, the planning of business succession and, last but not least, passion and society.

More Academies in Planning

At the academy, the advisers are not only taught the theoretic knowledge, but they also get the opportunity to learn hands on, in contact with real-live customers. As UBS wants to have all 1,200 UHNW client advisers pass the modules identified, the banks plans to open further academies.

UBS operates UNHW hubs in Zurich, Hong Kong and Singapore. The UNHW segment with the Wealth Management division celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2014.

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