UBS Wealth Americas Bids Farewell to Veteran Manager from McCann Era
(Rephrases third paragraph and corrects name in fourth paragraph to McWilliams, not Mulholland.)
In another sign of the cultural shift at UBS Wealth Management Americas, veteran sales manager David McWilliams confirmed Tuesday that he has left the firm.
“I left on good terms,” he said in a brief phone interview. “I’m a great fan of UBS.”
McWilliams, who became a broker in 1978 at age 21 when he joined Merrill Lynch, was part of the posse of former Merrill executives who jumped to UBS in 2009 to help revive the former PaineWebber franchise’s profitability.
As a senior manager in the field, McWilliams served first as head of UBS Wealth Management America’s central division and, from late 2010 to November 2012, of its eastern division. When his boss Robert McCann consolidated divisions in 2012, McWilliams shifted to the non-line role of “wealth management transformation” head, a pioneering effort to position brokers and trainees as fee-based, financial planners rather than as investment experts.
McWilliams’ departure coincides with a radical restructuring of sales management, marketing and administration that new UBS Americas president Tom Naratil has been unveiling over the past few days to senior managers. In the phone interview, McWilliams denied that his departure is related to the reorganization but declined to elaborate.
Naratil, who replaced McCann as president of all of UBS AG’s Americas businesses in January, is expected to eliminate the retail brokerage unit’s eight sales regions, heavily consolidate its approximately 80 office complexes and centralize operational responsibilities for the firm’s approximately 7,000 brokers among four national divisions.
The brokerage currently operates under two divisions led by managing directors Bill Carroll and Jason Chandler. They are expected to be supplemented in the divisional roles by soon-to-be-promoted Northwest region director Lane Strumlauf and Southeast region director Brad Smithy, according to two people who have spoken with senior executives with knowledge of the restructuring.
None of the executives returned calls for comment, and all senior managers who have been briefed on plans have signed non-disclosure agreements, according to three people with close ties to UBS. NDAs, commonly required among parties negotiating major strategic deals, are highly unusual for briefings on management reorganizations.
The intrigue has complex managers, branch managers and advisors who have interviewed for positions at UBS on “pins and needles,” said an outside recruiter. People are uncertain who their managers will be and how support functions will be affected. Another recruiter and a former UBS complex manager now with another firm said they know of several large complex director slots that people have interviewed for but that remain to be filled.
Naratil, who has been with UBS and its PaineWebber predecessor broker-dealer since 1983, is simultaneously putting his stamp on the organization and carrying out cost-cutting directives from the Zurich-based bank’s board and management committee who he knows intimately. Before assuming his new role in January, he was chief financial officer of UBS Group AG, giving him a front-row view of the enormous stresses that new global capital and tax-reporting requirements have made on banks, and on Swiss banks, in particular.
In addition to reorganizing the sales management structure, UBS Wealth Americas has been issuing pink slips to senior managers in areas such as marketing and human resources, said people with knowledge of the layoffs who sought anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly.
As a matter of policy, the company does not comment on “departures,” UBS Wealth Americas spokesman Gregg Rosenberg wrote in an email when asked to confirm the exit of McWilliams and others. He also declined to comment on whether there is a reorganization underway.