Unlocking Real Value Blog

AK In The News: UBS, Wells Fargo Best Positioned For 2013

I was asked to comment on a survey in today’s FundFire (a Financial Times Service) about which of four wirehouses – Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, UBS Wealth Management America and Wells Fargo Advisors – is best positioned for 2013.

First, the poll results. Interestingly, respondents were pretty equally split in their predictions – with 26% for UBS and Wells Fargo and 24% for each of the other two. (UBS actually had four more votes than Wells Fargo even though the percentages are the same.) This is much different than the results a year ago, where Morgan Stanley garnered the support of 46% of respondents and UBS only 16%. Unquestionably, the general feeling is that UBS has recovered from a lot of the negative press that has hounded it for the past few years.

UBS may also have gained from reports that ranked its advisors as the most productive of the wirehouses in recently released third quarter data ( Wells Fargo was not included in this study). Additionally, dropping the Smith Barney might have hurt the results for Morgan Stanley, as many of the old Smith Barney advisors were not happy with this change and they may have participated in this survey and voted against their own firm.

Overall, however, the results reflect my general feeling that entering 2013, all of the wirehouses are pretty much on equal footing. A lot of the negative press that has hounded them since 2008 has abated (although that could have been a by-product of all of the press that was concentrated on the election). A potential negative facing all of them next year is Elizabeth Warren’s apparent appointment to the Senate Banking Committee. She will be a pain for all of the banks.

From the article: “Andy Klausner, founder and principal of AK Advisory Partners, agrees with the 27% of FundFire readers who say that Wells Fargo is best positioned. “I don’t see a clear-cut winner right now based on relative strengths, but almost by process of elimination, Wells Fargo has had the least amount of negative press surrounding them, and they have done well in the recruiting wars, so I would have to give them a slight edge over the others,” he explains.”

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