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UBS Brokers Fear Wells Fargo Deal

Wells Fargo
AP
Wells Fargo

If Wells Fargo is going to acquire the wealth management business of UBS it is going to face at least one big challenge: assuaging the fears of the brokers.

“If we get bought by Wells, I’m out,” a UBS wealth management employee said recently.

Rumors have surfaced in press reports thatUBS is considering selling the division, which was previously known as PaineWebber.Wells Fargo has been cited as a potential buyer. UBS has said stories of an imminent sale are wrong.

"We believe UBS CEO [Oswald] Grubel would be a seller at the right price, while the recent Wells Fargo buy-back announcement implies that they have the resources to pursue a deal should they wish,” Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst Matthew Clark said in a research note Monday.

Inside UBS’s brokerage, there is a lot of talk about a possible sale.

A large number of the brokers seem to disapprove.

“Wells Fargo is a terrible brand. When I think of them, I think of credit cards being handed to college kids drunk in Cancun,” one financial adviser said.

Another financial adviser described an acquisition as a “demotion.”

“Working for a big Swiss bank has some cache. Maybe we’re not Goldman or Morgan Stanley, but we’re not nothing either. Wells Fargo is like a social demotion,” the advisor said.

Another adviser said a deal with Wells Fargo would likely create culture clashes similar to those that have troubled Bank of America’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch.

“The FAs just won’t fit in at Wells, and Wells won’t know how to fix that,” he said.

UBS employs around 6,800 financial advisers.

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