UBS wealth unit to boost mortgage lending

* UBS Wealth Management to hire 30-35 mortgage consultants

* Consultants to be located in UBS branch offices

* UBS can compete with BofA/Merrill on lending -Berkery

By Helen Kearney

NEW YORK, June 7 (BestGrowthStock) – UBS Wealth Management Americas
will hire more mortgage consultants for its branch offices as
it bulks up its lending services business, a company executive
told Reuters.

UBS, a division of the Swiss bank UBS AG (UBSN.VX: ), plans
to hire 30 to 35 mortgage consultants, said Rosemary Berkery,
vice chairman of UBS Wealth Management Americas and chairman of
UBS Bank USA. Now, the group employs six mortgage consultants.
The new hires will sell mortgages to wealthy clients.

“Given our target market is high net-worth clients, they
often have several homes. We know that they’re in the market
every five to eight years for mortgage financing,” she said.

Rather than going to a “faceless person in a call center,”
clients can talk about their mortgage needs with their UBS
wealth advisers. Those advisers would work with the mortgage
consultants to structure the mortgage.

This form of cross-selling has long been a feature of the
industry, but has been less of a focus at UBS, said Scott Smith
of Boston consulting firm Cerulli Associates.

Since Bob McCann was hired to head the division late last
year there has been a greater focus on the lending side, with
McCann publicly stating that one of his main priorities is to
bulk up the division’s banking products.

Berkery joined UBS in February from Merrill Lynch/Bank of
America (BAC.N: ), where she most recently was general counsel.
Berkery worked with McCann for 25 years at Merrill Lynch.

Berkery said UBS can compete with her former employer in
banking services, despite being smaller.

“We fight well above our weight,” she said. “We have a very
solid deposit base, deep relationships with our clients and a
huge capacity to lend in the mortgage arena.”

Advisers also are often afraid that problems on the banking
side could hurt relationships with their clients, Smith added.

UBS may need to tread carefully with its sharper focus on
mortgage consulting. Though the practice is widespread
elsewhere, it has riled wealth advisers at some other
companies, Smith said.

Advisers often worry that problems that might arise in
mortgage and banking services could damage the relationships
that they have with their clients, Smith added.

“Advisers often say: ‘Why can’t you back off and just let
me have a wealth management relationship?'” he said.

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(Reporting by Helen Kearney, editing by Matthew Lewis)

UBS wealth unit to boost mortgage lending