UBS sends its UHNW team to school

Looking after ultra-high net worth clients properly these days is more than just a matter of knowing the correct way to address members of a foreign royal family, which countries places like Punta del Este, Sandy Lane and Pulau Gaya may happen to be located in, and being able to converse passably well in such languages as Japanese or Mandarin, should the need arise.

Or so it would seem. For UBS Wealth Management is rolling out a training programme aimed specifically at its senior UHNW client advisers, with the intention of “further developing” the “core competencies” they are seen to need to possess, in order “to become a valued partner” of their clients.

The Swiss banking group this week is pulling the wraps off of its so-called Ultra High Net worth Academy in the Asia Pacific region, and says it plans to see to it that its entire global team of some 1,200 UHNW client advisers is able to benefit from the programme eventually.

Thus it is that 26 senior client-facing staff and senior leaders from Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan have been assembled in Singapore for the inaugural UHNW seminar, which is being hosted by Josef Stadler, UBS’s head of Global UHNW (pictured).

Stadler, who is responsible for overseeing the UHNW Academy roll-out, explains that at UBS, “we believe there is more to building rewarding and lasting relationships with UHNW clients than just offering wealth management services and investment advice”.

“Wealthy clients seek professionals who understand their unique challenges, passions and ambitions,” he says.

“By nurturing such relationships, we want to become the partner of choice for UHNW clients worldwide. We aim to join forces with them across generations.

“The UHNW Academy is at the heart of this commitment, bringing our client advisors the skills and insights necessary to help shape our clients’ great wealth.”

That UBS has chosen Singapore as the starting point for its UHNW Academy may have something to do with the region’s wealth: Asia’s billionaires now account for 36% of global self-made billionaire wealth, having just overtaking Europe for the first time, according to the most recent UBS PWC Billionaire Report. The region is second only to the US in terms of the size of its billionaire wealth pool.

Joseph Poon, Head of UBS Wealth Management’s South East Asia UHNW operations, notes that “succession planning and the engagement of the second generation” have become increasingly important elements to consider in looking after Asia’s billionaire families.

“Ultra high net worth clients are becoming more and more sophisticated and, increasingly, exhibit institutional-like needs,” he says.

“The launch of the UHNW Academy in Asia will serve to ensure our client advisers are even better equipped to provide Asian billionaire families with more comprehensive and holistic solutions.”

UBS says the UHNW Academy will teach its client advisers more about the bank’s new, so-called “UHNW Value Proposition”, while also sharpening their interpersonal skills and other “core competencies”.

It explains that the UHNW Academy framework “covers UBS’s ‘Ultra DNA’ foundation”, which “underpins everything in the curriculum”, and its “‘Four Competency’ modules”, which “focus on the following key concepts, including ultra and institutional investments; leading a dialogue with an entrepreneur from start-up to exit, and the solutions that UBS has to offer; succession planning, and multi-generational wealth management; and [finally,] passion and society”.

This curriculum, it adds, “aims to further strengthen the relationships [between the adviser and client] by engaging clients emotionally, and uncovering their passion and purpose”.

In all of the modules, client advisers will take part in real-life cases; get involved in pitching panels that blend technical knowledge and interpersonal skills, and share experiences with experts and peers, UBS says.

UBS’s Global Ultra High Net Worth business celebrated its tenth anniversary as a separate segment within UBS Wealth Management in 2014. It says its 1,200-plus client advisers operate out of more than 20 countries worldwide, including around 70 specialists across wealth planning, philanthropy, family advisory and art advisory services.

Its  UHNW hubs are located in Zurich, Hong Kong and Singapore.

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