UBS Mega-Brokers in Houston Walk to RIA Independence
A $9-million trio of UBS brokers in Houston left last week to form an independent advisory firm, betting they can retain the bulk of their ultra-rich family clientele in spite of the firm’s recent exit from the Protocol for Broker Recruiting.
Brian Bova, David Leeds Eustis and Marc Oster, managing directors who had each been at UBS for at least 15 years, have set up Inscription Capital as an advisory firm, financing the transition with money from GPS Investment Partners, a private equity firm in New York, according to several sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The upper-high-net-worth “private wealth management” brokers, who were overseeing about $2 billion of customer money and are using Fidelity Investments as their RIA custodian, have parked their brokerage licenses with Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments, according to regulatory filings. Albany, New York-based PKS specializes in working with investment advisers to help them collect 12b-1 mutual fund sale fees and other ancillary revenue.
“They had a pretty good business, and UBS is all over their book,” said a veteran broker who spoke on condition of anonymity and said the team’s clients include families with oil-sector riches.
Several industry lawyers and recruiters said the move is notable because of the size of the practice and because UBS’s December exit from the Protocol for Broker Recruiting could trigger a lawsuit seeking to restrain the brokers from calling former clients.
Reached at Inscription Capital, Eustis declined to comment on the team’s motivations for leaving, its decision to go independent or what moves it may have taken to defend itself against a potential restraining order filing from UBS.
A UBS spokeswoman did not return a request for comment on the move or on its potential response.
The team, which until July of 2015 included Will Leven, now a private wealth manager at Merrill Lynch, had a long UBS lineage. Eustis has been with the firm since 2000, Oster since 2001 and Bova since 2003, according to their BrokerCheck histories.
The trio was wooed aggressively by consultants and firms that offer products, platforms and transition financing to large wirehouse teams seeking independence, according to several sources.
Their choice of GPS, which typically buys up to 19% of equity in firms it affiliates with, appears to be broadening the private equity firm’s reach from portfolio companies that are focused on asset management products to individual wealth management. The firm, which was co-founded by Marc Spilker, a former co-head of Goldman Sachs Investment Management, hired senior Dynasty Financial Partners recruiter Tim Bello in 2016 to extend its reach to breakaway brokers.
Bello and Spilker did not return requests for comment.
The UBS team also received at least $350,000 of “transition-related assistance” from Fidelity Clearing and Custody, according to Inscription’s ADV filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Custodians typically earmark some of their financing to help breakaway brokers and advisors reimburse clients for account transfer and closing fees and a greater amount to induce them to move assets to its various product platforms.
—Jed Horowitz contributed to this story.