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Vontobel Bolsters US Business Reach, Buys UBS Subsidiary

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor, London, 17 December 2021

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The Zurich-listed firm has been building an onshore presence in the US for some time. In this deal, its purchase of a UBS business in Switzerland adds to its ability to offer US clients diversification opportunities, it said.

Vontobel has agreed to buy UBS Swiss Financial Advisers, a subsidiary of UBS AG, as part of a strategy to strengthen business for North American clients. 

SFA and Vontobel Swiss Wealth Advisors, a Vontobel business focused on North America, will be combined into a single group. 

Preparations for the move will start after the transaction closes, which is expected to take place in the third quarter of 2022, Vontobel said in a statement yesterday. 

Together with SFA’s SFr7.2 billion ($7.81 billion) in assets under management as of 30 September 2021, Vontobel, through its SEC licensed entities, said it expects to become the largest Swiss-domiciled wealth manager for US clients seeking an account in Switzerland for diversification purposes.

The combined pro forma assets under management will more than double to over SFr10 billion, it said.

“This transaction is reflective of our confidence in the US market and our ongoing strategic growth efforts in the region,” Georg Schubiger, global head of wealth management at Vontobel and chairman of VSWA, said. “This is a major step toward making Vontobel a global name that serves sophisticated clients around the world and builds toward our goal of increasing US client revenue and overall assets under management.”

Following the transaction, UBS will continue to refer its clients to SFA, a SEC-registered investment advisor and FINMA-licensed securities firm, which offers US clients tailored investment solutions in a Swiss-based environment.

“This acquisition not only ensures UBS's US clients continue to have access to a Swiss-based money management firm, but it also simplifies our business structure and enables us to focus on core activities with scale in line with our strategic priorities,” Tom Naratil, co-president UBS Global Wealth Management and president UBS Americas, said.

Vontobel, which is already present in the US as an asset manager, has teams in New York, Geneva and Zurich. Most recently, it bought Lombard Odier’s US-based client portfolio in 2019 and plans to open a new office in Miami.

The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals, will be fully funded with cash from Vontobel’s balance sheet, covered by its robust CET1 and Tier 1 capital ratios. Additional financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

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