Client Strategy Officer, Group Managing Director, UBS Wealth Management Americas
Paula Polito has changed a lot at UBS' wealth management business in the Americas, much of it related to steering the focus away from products and transactions to emphasize tailored advice. She joined UBS in 2009 as part of a team Chief Executive Bob McCann tasked with helping to revitalize Switzerland's largest bank. She overhauled UBS' approach to marketing and subsequently helped re-engineer several other lines of business.
Profits have not only increased in the various lines of business she oversees, but the unit overall is now better poised to serve so-called emerging affluent clients. Typically defined as people with $100,000 to $1 million of liquid assets or earning more than $75,000 a year, this is a market segment UBS had not previously served and is viewed as crucial to the future success of the wealth management industry in general.
Polito has been in her current role since March 2012, and innovations she has spurred along the way have made a lasting impact at UBS. For example, she helped orchestrate a shift in the Wealth Advice Center — made up of 80 advisers managing $9.1 billion in assets — from a reactive call-center model primarily focused on processing disbursements and account closures to a linchpin of the wealth management business that focuses on giving advice to deepen client relationships.
UBS now delivers advice to four times the number of plan participants that it did in 2012, and the deeper relationships that came as a result of the new advisory services helped generate a 45% increase in revenue from 2012 to 2014.
One of Polito's goals for the coming year — both professionally and personally — is to get more involved in veterans' causes. "Perhaps the catalyst to make this my mandate was a visit to Normandy last year with my husband on the 70th anniversary of D-Day," she says. "He and I both had fathers who served with the U.S. Navy in World War II, and they both fought on D-Day when they were just 17 years old."