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Fragmented UK market will attract consolidators, says UBS

The fragmented nature of the UK advisory market makes it a key target for wealth managers looking to consolidate, says UBS after it buying London IFA Scott Goodman Harris.

The Swiss investment banking and securities house says high-net-worth individuals will be attracted to the concept of advice from firms with global reach rather than the disparate firms currently operating in the UK.

Last week&#39s purchase of high-net-worth specialist Scott Goodman Harris, together with the previous week&#39s take-over of stockbroker Laing & Cruickshank, doubles UBS Wealth Management UK&#39s adviser numbers to over 200 and brings total assets under management close to £10bn.

UBS Wealth Management UK local managing director Liz Cacciottolo says: “We see the UK market as key for our wealth management initiative. The fragmented nature of the UK advice market makes it a good opportunity both through organic growth and key acquisitions.”

UBS, which claims to be the world&#39s top wealth manager and has 66,000 staff operation in over 50 countries, says the UK&#39s rich will come to expect the quality of dedicated resources that is only available through a multinational operation. The company says the two deals it has made in February makes it the UK&#39s fourth-biggest wealth manager in terms of assets under management.

UBS is aiming to bring in business from the top 3 per cent of the population in terms of income and says it will target clients with investable assets of £1m upwards although it stresses that it includes billionaires in its client bank.

The move into the UK is part of a strategy to build an onshore operation in response to pressure from European Union states which are unhappy with Switzerland&#39s banking secrecy laws.

Cacciottolo says: “This has been a factor in our move onshore in Europe. Several countries have either carried out or are about to carry out tax amnesties and that is validating a lot of business back into the home country.”

UBS says it will expand its onshore wealth management operations into Germany, France, Spain and Italy as well as the UK. Last year it bought Merrill Lynch&#39s private client business in Germany and the French wealth management operation of Lloyds TSB.

Cacciottolo says: “In 2001, UBS committed to a European wealth management initiative and the UK is clearly important for us and the home of our investment arm and bank. We are extremely pleased to add Scott Goodman Harris&#39s high quality professionals to our rapidly growing UK business.”

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