What’s behind UBS’s push into the fast-growing US UHNW wealth space?
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WEALTH

What’s behind UBS’s push into the fast-growing US UHNW wealth space?

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John Mathews, head of UHNW Americas for UBS in New York, tells Euromoney why the US’s private banking model is so successful, why the Swiss firm is really in the life counselling business, and explains why it has targeted US ultra-high net worth clients.

Private banking is pretty much the same wherever you go in the world, right? Wrong. And every wealthy private-banking client is surely different, bearing their own unique set of needs, urges and desires – right? Wrong again.

Like everything in life, a lot of what we think we know to be correct could not, in fact, be further from the truth.

Take the first point. A relationship manager serving the wealthy from their office in Zurich will typically draw a salary and, assuming the year was a beneficent one, also pocket a bonus at year’s end. That is how it works pretty much across the globe, from London to Dubai to Singapore.

Not so in the US, where wealth-facing RMs typically eat what they kill. “Private banking in the US is very entrepreneurial,” says John Mathews, head of ultra-high net-worth (UHNW) Americas and group managing director at UBS in New York. “Financial advisers [here] are entrepreneurs: they set up their businesses the way they want and go after their own type of client. Our job is simple: it’s to help them serve clients better so they can grow faster.”

This ‘grid’ model is what attracts so many emotionally intelligent financial minds to enter private banking in the world’s largest economy.

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Asia editor and Global Private Banking and Wealth Management editor
Elliot Wilson is Asia editor and Global Private Banking and Wealth Management editor. He joined the magazine in 2020 having been a regular contributor focusing on China and the Indian subcontinent, Russia and Eastern Europe/the CIS. He is based in Hong Kong.
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