Q&A With UBS Global Wealth Management Americas’ James Jack, Head Of Business Owners Client Segment

James Jack, Head Of The Business Owners Client Segment in the Americas for UBS Global Wealth Management, named Best for Business Owners, speaks with Global Finance about how the bank serves successful entrepreneurs.

Global Finance: Describe UBS’s approach to private banking for business owners.

James Jack: UBS formally created its group for business owners several years ago. The companies typically range from a few million to a few hundred million in revenue. The owners’ ages range from 35 to 95, but most are 55 to 75. Many are at or nearing retirement. They’re not necessarily ready to sell their companies tomorrow, but they want to build a business that’s transferable and prepare themselves and their families for the transition.

That lays the foundation for what we do. We can help prepare clients for that transition, whether it’s a sale or a transfer, to a child, the management team or an ESOP [employee stock ownership plan]. We provide advice and guidance that goes beyond what’s going on in the stock market. That’s important, but generally not top of mind for business owners, at least until a transition occurs.

GF: How do business owners’ needs differ from those of other wealth management clients?

Jack: Business owners’ wealth typically is locked in their business. It’s concentrated and generally illiquid until a transition occurs. Moreover, many business owners aren’t necessarily prepared for a transition. For instance, a business may look good on paper; but when you conduct the due diligence, you find it relies entirely on the owner. In addition, the transfer of their businesses may be the most significant financial event in many business owners’ lives, yet they do it only once. In contrast, a private equity buyer, for instance, handles transactions all the time.

All this comes into play when we provide advice and guidance. We connect business owners with resources, such as our extensive white papers on preparing to sell a business and succession planning. We host educational events for business owners. About 250 advisers within UBS have earned the designation of Certified Exit Planning Advisor. As advisers, we work with business owners’ other trusted advisers, like their accountants and/or attorneys. We build relationships. It’s a different mindset than a focus on the stock market.

We also talk with business owners about the emotional impacts of their business and their transition plans. How will a sale impact their feelings about their purpose in life? How will it impact their spouse and children? It’s about educating and helping to connect business owners with resources.

GF: When working with business owners, do you typically handle both their private banking needs and their businesses’ financial needs?

Jack: UBS’s core competency is wealth management. At the same time, we offer tools and resources to help business owners, and are building our product suite for business owners in the US. For instance, in June 2019, we launched a business credit card. The co-presidents of UBS Wealth Management have indicated that we’ll be doing more lending for business owners and entrepreneurs. We also partner with lenders that can offer, for instance, inventory or agriculture loans. And we partner with firms that offer business insurance. It’s about connecting business owners with resources, whether it’s UBS or our partners. Where we can provide value ourselves, we do. If it’s best to partner, we’ll partner.

GF: How important is technology and online offerings when working with business owners?

Jack: All clients want on-demand access to their accounts so they can understand what’s going on with them. We offer online tools and apps. While our clients want technology to ease execution, they also like and want relationships. When you get to a certain level of wealth, you need the human component. You’re looking for in-depth conversations on, for instance, succession planning. It ultimately comes down to relationships.