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UBS picked off talent from 8 rival firms

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UBS picked up a slate of new hires in recent months, helping to offset its declining headcount.

The wirehouse has maintained a less aggressive recruiting strategy than some of its peers since 2016, when it slashed hiring to shift resources elsewhere within the company. Competitors Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley soon followed suit. But regional BDs such as Raymond James and Stifel have maintained efforts to woo talent away from their wirehouse rivals.

At UBS, headcount has ticked down to 6,549 for the fourth quarter from 6,850 for the year-ago period, according to the company’s earnings report. Executives, who have previously said the firm’s brokerage force would shrink, have placed greater emphasis on advisor productivity and catering to wealthy clients. UBS fields the most productive brokerage force at revenue per FA of $1.4 million.

The wirehouse’s new hires joined in several locations and came at the expense of eight rivals, according to a company memo seen by On Wall Street.

In Philadelphia, the wirehouse hired an advisor who generated $1.5 million in revenue and oversaw $300 million in AUM. Blair Ege, who had experience that spanned 33 years, had previously worked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records.

Further north, UBS hired a New York-based advisor from Morgan Stanley where he had $2.2 million in production and oversaw $270 million. Jordan McLendon had been with Morgan for less than a year, having previously worked at Merrill Lynch, according to BrokerCheck.

In nearby Boston, UBS hired two advisors, one from Morgan Stanley and another from Fidelity, who oversaw $139 million and $80 million, respectively. Rueben Fink had been with Morgan for the entirety of his 11-year career before switching employers in December. William Danforth also moved to UBS in December, leaving Fidelity after five years with the company, per BrokerCheck records.

In California, UBS picked up two advisors. In Marin County, it hired a former Baird advisor who generated $2.4 million and oversaw $274 million in client assets. Jason Schlesinger had been registered with Baird since 2011, having previously worked at Wells Fargo, according to BrokerCheck. In San Jose, UBS grabbed a former Morgan Stanley advisor overseeing $177 million and generating $1.6 million. Greg Smith spent 26 years at Morgan and predecessor firm Smith Barney, according to BrokerCheck.

Merrill Lynch lost a $1.1 million producer to UBS in Atlanta. The advisor oversaw $137 million, according to the memo. James Malatos made the switch in December.

UBS also hired a duo from Wells Fargo Private Bank where they oversaw $190 million in assets. Marc Howard and Steven DeBoub are based in a UBS office in Daniel Island, South Carolina.

Finally, a former Edward Jones advisor — Kurt Elliott — joined UBS in Oklahoma City. The ex-Edward Jones FA previously oversaw $147 million. Elliott had worked at the firm for a decade prior to moving to UBS last month.

Earlier this month, UBS landed a former Merrill Lynch team managing nearly $11 billion in client assets.

Spokespersons for Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo and Edward Jones declined to comment on the departures.

Spokespersons for Baird, Fidelity and Merrill Lynch could not be reached for comment.

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