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February 25, 2010

News digest

McCann reorganises UBS in the US Fund managers surprise at Dubai crisis WealthTouch expands with $11m backing Third-generation ETFs launched...

By Verdict Staff

PEOPLE

McCann reorganises UBS in the US

UBS has reorganised its US retail brokerage from three market regions down to two, and Jason Chandler has been appointed head of private wealth management, according to a company memo.

David McWilliams will lead the UBS east division and Michael Schweitzer will head the western business unit. Chandler replaces John Straus, who will become head of strategic client relations.

The private wealth advisory business, which caters for high net worth individuals with $10 million or more in investable assets, was seen as a key area of focus last year. UBS sold 55 retail brokerage branches to St Louis-based Stifel Financial in April last year as it looked to shift its wealth management offering to wealthier clients.

Paul Santucci has been named chief operating officer of the business. Details of the changes were revealed in a memo written by Bob Mulholland, head of the bank’s wealth management advisor group.

PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Fund managers’ surprise at Dubai crisis

Middle East fund managers were caught off-guard by the debt crisis in Dubai, with many fully invested after a period of holding larger cash reserves.

The problems in the emirate, sparked by a debt default from state-owned Dubai world, “came as a surprise to just about everyone,” according to Standard & Poor’s (S&P) lead analyst Roberto Demartini.

S&P, in an annual report on fund services in the region, said the managers it interviewed during November and December last year expected markets to rise.

“A common view was that with the oil price at $70 a barrel, the economies in the region were poised for some stability and growth,” said Demartini.

A crisis of confidence was likely to keep some investors out of the region, according to the report, but there is a case for looking at other countries where prospects are better.

Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are seen to have good prospects because of the current price of oil.

“The recent announcements about Dubai have clearly had an impact on volatility and opened up some opportunities,” said Demartini.

TECHNOLOGY

WealthTouch expands with $11m backing

Wealthy families have provided part of an $11 million package to expand WealthTouch, a US-based data aggregation tech provider to ultra high net worth families.

The business, which has around $15 billion in reporting assets, is aiming to become the performance reporting leader for family offices, according to its CEO Norman Jones. Jones added the business had several landmark deals underway.

“Ultra-high net worth investors are demanding greater control and clarity from their family office managers and investment professionals,” said Charlie Willhoit, president of IWP Wealth Management, a Denver-based wealth management firm.

“WealthTouch provides a powerful solution for managing the complexity and variety of high net worth portfolios. The platform combines a secure, user-friendly online interface with detailed, accurate portfolio information to provide managers and clients with anytime access to information they can trust.”

Competitors in the market include Rockefeller & Co’s Rockit Solutions, Private Client Resources and Fidelity Investments’ family office services group.

PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Third-generation ETFs launched

ETF Securities, an independent provider of exchange traded funds (ETFs), has launched a platform to address client demands for transparency, liquidity, risk and counterparty management.

Its product, ETF Exchange (Europe), is being termed the world’s first third-generation ETF because it diversifies counterparty risk across multiple providers.

ETF Securities is initially working with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citi, Rabobank International and Barclays Capital on the initiative. They will act as distribution partners, authorised participants and swap providers.

Liquidity will be concentrated in a single platform issued by ETF Securities.

“The issuance model is among the most efficient and risk averse available today,” said a spokesman.

The new platform offers 21 equity ETFs and can be traded in up to three currencies.

“This is an important milestone in the development of ETF Exchange. Working with banks of this calibre will provide investors with an unparalleled quality of service, across an innovative range of products,” said ETF Exchange CEO Mark Weeks.

“The ETFX platform is truly market-changing. We believe the evolution of ETFX will make redundant the current single bank issuance models.”

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