UBS Advisor Review
UBS is a global investment bank and advisory firm with $3.96 trillion AUM. In this guide, we break down what you can expect from the firm’s advisory services.
UBS is a global financial services firm and investment bank based in Switzerland. It offers wealth management and financial advisory services to those in the United States and abroad. In J.D. Power’s 2023 Investor Satisfaction Study, UBS placed as the second-best, just behind Charles Schwab.
With UBS, you can expect a comprehensive wealth management service that provides you with various solutions, including investment advice, financial planning, and banking. In this guide, we’ll break down what you can expect from the firm, including its account minimums and fees. You’ll also learn other critical company information, such as its disclosures and contact information.
Assets Under Management
Number of Employees
June 29, 1998
Bahnhofstrasse 45, 8001 Zurich, Switzerland
Types of Clients UBS Serves
UBS offers two types of investment advisory services for clients – discretionary and non-discretionary. The former means that an advisor or investment manager may buy and sell securities on your behalf. Under each account type are a wide range of programs that have various account minimums and features.
The investment advisory programs UBS offers cater to a wide range of clientele, including beginners and ultra-net-worth individuals. The table below outlines each program and its account minimum:
|Program Name||Account Type||Minimum Investment|
|UBS Advice Portfolio Program||Discretionary||$5,000|
|Advisor Allocation Program||Discretionary||$25,000|
|Portfolio Management Program (PMP)||Discretionary||$25,000|
|ACCESS||Discretionary||$5,000-$1,000,000 (depending on strategies)|
|Managed Accounts Consulting (MAC)||Discretionary||$100,000 (or $10,000,000 if you hold an account with an external custodian)|
|Strategic Wealth Portfolio (SWP)||Non-discretionary||$100,000|
|UBS Strategic Advisor||Non-discretionary||$25,000|
Keep in mind that, as you sign up for UBS’s services, an advisor or company representative will help you find the most appropriate program for your situation. Also, be aware that you’ll need to cover advisory fees and costs associated with securities within your account. The latter are typically due to transactions and fund management.
Financial Advisor Services UBS Offers
UBS’s services encompass both investment advisory and financial planning. For the former, you can choose either a discretionary or non-discretionary model, as well as gain direct access to a financial advisor. With the latter, a professional will work with you to plan out the most important aspects of your life, including wealth management. Below is a more specific breakdown of each service:
UBS provides investment advisory services, in which a professional (or team of them) works to manage and build your investment portfolio in a discretionary or non-discretionary capacity. The firm breaks this down into a long list of programs, which, for the average client, can be a bit confusing. Here’s a concise outline of what each has to offer:
- Portfolio Management Program (PMP). With this model, an advisor manages your portfolio with the authority to buy and sell securities on your behalf.
- UBS Strategic Wealth Portfolio. This non-discretionary program allows you to combine separately managed accounts (SMAs), mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) into one large account. Its SMAs are discretionary, however.
- UBS Strategic Advisor. This is a non-discretionary program, in which an advisor gives you active guidance as you build your portfolio.
- Separately Managed Accounts. In this discretionary program, which includes ACCESS and Managed Accounts Consulting, you may hire a UBS or external advisor to manage your portfolio. Account minimums vary depending on whether your manager is external or not (see the section above for details).
- Mutual Fund Advisory Program. With this program, a UBS advisor’s goal will be to implement appropriate asset allocation techniques via investing in various mutual funds.
- Advisor Allocation Program. This is a discretionary program that combines separately managed accounts, mutual funds, and ETFs to achieve an asset allocation strategy that aligns with your goals.
- Consolidated Advisory Program (CAP). This portfolio type allows you to consolidate existing investments and entities into one, provided they all work toward achieving your overarching goals.
- CAP-Select. With this option, you’ll receive direct assistance from an advisor to build an alternative investment portfolio. Keep in mind that this service only provides advice, rather than management services.
While the above may seem complex, you can expect UBS to match you with the appropriate service depending on your goals and initial investment. However, it’s important to have an idea of what you’re getting before sitting down with a professional.
In addition to its investment advisory services, UBS also provides financial planning solutions. Depending on your needs and goals, an advisor will sit down with you to plan various aspects of your finances, including for:
- Long-term care
An added benefit of UBS’s wealth planning service is that it will afford you access to not just one advisor, but a team of specialists. This way, you can get the answers and solutions you need if your dedicated expert isn’t able to take it on alone.
UBS charges clients a percentage of assets under management (AUM) for its advisory services. The exact fee you pay depends on the program you select and the total amount of assets you have. In the table below, we list the maximum fee percentages it charges for each program:
|Program Name||Fee Percentage (AUM)|
|UBS Advice Portfolio Program||1.25%|
|Advisor Allocation Program||2.5% plus manager fee|
|Portfolio Management Program (PMP)||2.5% plus 1.0% of Liquidity Portfolios|
|ACCESS||2.5% plus manager fee|
|Managed Accounts Consulting (MAC)||2.5%|
|Strategic Wealth Portfolio (SWP)||2.5%|
|UBS Strategic Advisor||2.5%|
In addition to advisory fees, you may also have to pay for transaction and fund management. Even if a discretionary manager buys a security on your behalf, you’re responsible for covering any costs associated with it.
UBS’s Investment Philosophy
UBS maintains an investment philosophy that is fluid based on each client’s needs and goals. The firm states on its website that each client “has a unique set of preferences and characteristics,” therefore “even identical portfolios result in very different experiences” for people. In this way, the company seems to believe in understanding the client first and then tailoring a strategy toward them.
Before developing an investment strategy for each client, UBS claims that its advisors will ask you five critical questions that’ll help them understand each person:
- What do you want to accomplish in life?
- Who are the people that matter most to you?
- What do you want your legacy to be?
- What are your main concerns?
- How do you plan to achieve your life’s vision?
After an advisor has the answers to the questions above, they can more effectively work with you to build a plan for your financial future. This includes picking an investment advisory program and determining which aspects of your life need careful planning.
In the United States, UBS operates as UBS Financial Services Inc. It is registered with the SEC as an investment advisor and broker. It also maintains a registration as a broker with FINRA. Because of this, the firm must report any disclosures to these authorities. These refer to legal proceedings or actions against the company or its representatives.
According to FINRA’s BrokerCheck, the firm has 910 disclosures, including 469 regulatory events. And, per the firm’s Form ADV, either the company or one of its advisory affiliates has pled guilty to and been charged with a felony in the last ten years. As a client, this may be a concern. However, it’s also important to verify each advisor’s credentials and disclosure history with BrokerCheck or the SEC’s Investment Adviser Search (IAPD).
If you need to contact UBS for assistance, you have a few different options:
- The company’s contact page
- Client services – (888) 279-3343
- Client relations (for comments or complaints) – (800) 354-9103, 8am-5pm, ET, Monday-Friday
How to Get Started with UBS
To start working with a UBS financial advisor, it’s best to start by visiting the company’s website. Here, you’ll be able to navigate to the services you need, as well as schedule a consultation with a professional. It also provides a search tool, which allows you to input your location or find someone by name.
Tips for Choosing a Financial Advisor Firm
The advisor firm you choose to work with is an important choice. It’s of utmost importance to select one that is of a high reputation and aligns with your values and goals. The professional you end up hiring may be who you work with for several years to come. So, it’s equally as important to research an individual’s credentials as well.
Also, be sure to pay attention to a company’s account minimums and fee structure. The initial investment a firm requires to open an account may be steep, which may or may not affect your ability to be a client. Fees may also add up. It’s important to know exactly how a firm charges you so that you don’t get any unwelcome surprises.
If you need help finding a firm, we recommend using a matching tool, such as this one. After you complete a short quiz, it’ll present you with up to three vetted options near you.
The information in this review is based on publicly available information directly from UBS’s website, the SEC, and FINRA. Neither the firm nor its representatives have any say on what we’ve included on this page.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are UBS financial advisors fiduciaries?
UBS is registered with the SEC as an investment advisor and broker. Because of this, the entire company, as well as its representatives, must maintain a fiduciary duty. This includes when an investment manager is buying and selling securities on your behalf.
Additionally, the firm maintains its status as a broker with FINRA. This means the company must also follow the suitability standard. With this policy, a broker may only recommend a security that is “suitable” for a client based on factors like their risk tolerance, portfolio, age, and time horizon.
How do UBS advisors get paid?
According to UBS’s Form CRS (relationship summary), advisors at the firm make money via a percentage of the revenue they generate. Revenue comes from advisory fees, referrals, and transactions. They may also receive higher pay the longer they work at the company.
Is UBS a good financial advisor firm?
UBS offers a wide range of services that meet the needs of many client types. Additionally, the firm’s resources are vast and extend globally. It also ranks second place on J.D. Power’s Investor Satisfaction Study. These all make UBS a desirable option for clients.
While UBS has its positives, be aware that each client’s needs are different. If you’re on the fence, we recommend sitting down with one of the company’s advisors to ensure they align with your goals and values.
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