(Dow Jones) UBS Wealth Management Americas is adding more subjective goals to the bonus criteria of its branch managers and complex directors, which means more guesswork for them in trying to predict how much they will take home this year.
The 2011 compensation structure was announced at a managers' meeting in Utah last week. As in previous years, UBS branch managers and complex directors are paid with a salary and bonus, and the bonus is split 50-50 between results based on subjective measures and on objective, or more easily quantifiable, goals.
More metrics are being added to the subjective portion of the appraisal this year, and that has raised fears among some managers that their overall pay could be cut, even by as much as 25% or 50%, according to people familiar with the new compensation structure.
Karina Byrne, a company spokeswoman, confirmed UBS's release of the new compensation plan and said any fears of a reduced pay could stem from the lack of guarantees in the subjective portion of the evaluation.
"But if you meet those targets, your subjective portion could be more than your formulaic portion," Byrne said. Some new factors now being taken into consideration could mean even more bonus pay for someone who wasn't credited for similar work in the past, she added.
Wall Street firms have long been moving towards a more subjective review of managers' compensation. Merrill Lynch, now under Bank of America Corp. (BAC), ditched its formula-based approach for awarding bonuses for divisional and regional managers in 2007, and later did the same for branch managers.
In the case of UBS, the subjective portion of managers' bonus review is tied to four key factors: Quality of business revenue growth, which looks at how managers are helping advisors bring in new money; "delivering the firm," which looks at how they are developing advisors and promoting teamwork and partnership with other UBS units, among other things; leadership, which involves building an office culture; and management quality, which assesses their overall effectiveness as managers.
The objective portion of managers' bonuses, on the other hand, is based on revenue growth, expense management, net new money and recruiting of new advisors.
UBS said at the meeting last week that it plans to hire around 400 more advisors this year and has four key broad goals for 2011: headcount, net new money, financial management, and brand and reputation.
"The compensation plan's goals mirror those broader goals that are effective across the firm," said Byrne.
Bing Waldert, director at Boston-based research firm Cerulli Associates, said managers who aren't happy with their pay scheme don't have much options days given less demand for them.
"The number of positions across the industry are down," Waldert said. "It's very much a buyer's market for branch managers' talent."
Copyright (c) 2011, Dow Jones. For more information about Dow Jones' services for advisors, please click here.