UBS: SA Swiss Based Full Service Brokerage in the USA
UBS is a full service brokerage firm with offices located throughout the US, Europe and Switzerland. UBS services High Net Worth and Ultra High Net Worth clients through its base of personal brokers. Account holders with a balance of $250,000 and above will receive personalized service with a dedicated financial advisor and client service associate. These financial advisors are trained to offer the account holder advice as to what type of security will best suit the client’s needs and financial goals.
Most of the time, when the client asks the financial advisor for advice, no actual buy or sell recommendations will be given. The opposite is actually true: the financial advisor would rather take the time to explain the pros and cons of the investment idea that the client has, then place the buy or sell order in the client’s account.
Keep in mind that full service brokers such as UBS offer clients the chance to somewhat self direct their account, with the final buy or sell decision made with after a consultation with the financial advisor or wealth management advisory team.
UBS: Equity and Mutual Fund Trades are Expensive
Costs for an equity buy or sell order are expensive buy industry standards. An odd lot of 30 shares of ETF FXS (CurrencyShares Swedish Krona Trust) totaling $5200 will cost the customer in the neighborhood of $75. Two round 100 lot shares of the Silver ETF SLV (iShares Silver Trust) will cost the client $110.
By contrast a mutual fund purchase will cost the client $5.25. These are not the only fees the client will pay however, as the only mutual funds that UBS allows are mutual funds that are loaded; i.e. the shareholder pays a sales charge to UBS for buying the shares. There is no cost for redeeming shares of a mutual fund.
UBS also offers CDs as a form of a Fixed Income investment. If the client has been recommended to buy a CD or is otherwise interested in adding one (or several) to his portfolio, the Financial Advisor will shop for the best rates among a variety of providers and also offer the optimum maturity date for the client’s needs. There is no charge to the client for the purchase or sale of a CD in a UBS account.
UBS: An Excellent but Non-Functioning On-Line Platform
For those that are interested, UBS offers a fully functioning and very informative on-line interface of their account. While UBS’s on-line platform shows the daily and historic trades, VISA Card transactions, and records of cleared checks, UBS’s on-line platform DOES NOT allow trading in the account. In other words, if the account holder wished to buy or sell a security in his account, he must either call his Financial Advisor or meet with his Financial Advisor in person.
UBS: Essentially a Swiss Private Wealth Manager
Calling the Advisor may seem to cause a difficulty for the client, it has the effect of keeping making the client think of his UBS account with the highest regard. UBS is in fact a Wealth Management firm, and it is in fact a Swiss Based Wealth management firm. The thought of having what is essentially a Swiss Private Wealth manager on your side supersedes the inconvenience of having to what is in effect “asking” the Advisor for permission to make a trade. The total end result is a very conservative investment portfolio, a very conservative trading style, and a goal of long term wealth building.
This white shirt-dark suit conservative advice comes with a price though. Client holders must learn to get used to the professionalism of the typical UBS Financial Advisor and her Wealth Management Team. Attitudes can sometimes be downright cool, if not outright snobbish towards the UBS account holder that calls with the “smaller trade” or “smaller account size.”
This attitude fades and even vanishes after time. When the UBS client has held an account for years, the Financial Advisor can become a trusted partner in building wealth, preserving wealth, and preventing the squandering of wealth with unnecessary and unprofitable trades. The relationship between client and Advisor fully develops at UBS and is best noticed with the passage of time.
Finally, UBS charges its account holders a yearly fee of $150 for any number of accounts in a household, but refunds any ATM fees incurred when their VISA debit card is used to withdraw cash at a cash station.
If you don't want to pay UBS fees or want additional self-directed account, you can open account at one of the top rated brokerages like,
Scottrade (Review) or Etrade (Review)
free of charge and see if you could beat UBS returns.
This article was updated on 2/24/2014.