Robert McCann, the former head of Merrill Lynch's brokerage unit, was named the head of UBS's private client group.
McCann has been telling associates that the job is his and that he is looking to woo brokers from his old firm to UBS, these people say. His appointment is expected to ignite a war over talent between McCann and Sallie Krawcheck, who heads the Merrill brokerage department, now part of Bank of America.
"Under Bob's leadership, I believe that the business will now consolidate its position as the firm of choice for those clients seeking a fully integrated offering of diverse products and tailored advisory services," said Oswald Gruebel, Chief Executive of UBS Group.
McCann's appointment ends weeks of speculation over who would run the brokerage department of UBS, once known as PaineWebber.
The UBS brokerage group has been among the worst performing brokerage businesses on Wall Street. Senior management at UBS including CEO Oswald Gruebel is banking that McCann can reverse the slide.
UBS Wealth Management Americas saw net new money outflows of 5.8 billion Swiss francs ($5.77 billion) in the second quarter, compared with the first-quarter's net new money inflows of 16.2 billion francs.
The bank has been hurt by a tax row with the U.S. government, which was settled in August. It has also been hit by executive departures, bad bets on auction rate securities and write-downs, and other regulatory setbacks.
— Reuters contributed to this report