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(Reuters) - Swiss bank UBS AG's UBSN.VX U.S. brokerage unit has named a new head for its private wealth management division, as the company looks to expand its business catering to clients with $10 million or more in investable assets.
John Mathews, who had been a regional director in the southeast United States, has been tapped to lead the unit, which includes about 340 advisers catering to the firm's wealthiest clients, UBS said on Friday.
"We think it's better served as a separate unit," Mathews said in an interview, noting that the ultra-high-net-worth segment is the fastest growing client segment at the firm.
"We're able to dedicate more resources to (the business), which means it will grow faster," he said.
Mathews takes over the role from Jason Chandler, who had been overseeing both the unit and the wider Americas force of roughly 7,000 brokers. Chandler will continue to oversee the broader adviser group, while he and Mathews report to Bob Mulholland, head of wealth management and investment solutions for UBS in the Americas.
UBS Wealth Management Americas, formed out of the old PaineWebber brokerage, is the fourth-largest brokerage in the United States, following Morgan Stanley's (MS.N) wealth management unit, Bank of America Corp's (BAC.N) Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo & Co's (WFC.N) Wells Fargo Advisors.
Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and Merrill Lynch also have divisions catering to the firm's wealthiest clients.
"The wealthier the client, the more complex their needs are," said Mathews, referring to clients' mortgages, tax planning and insurance needs. He said they have also had an increased focus on lending for clients.
"We're in a position to help not only with their investments, but also with their other planning needs," he said.
Advisers need to go through a rigorous accreditation program before they can join the private wealth group, Mathews said.
Mathews, who started in his new job on April 23, oversees all of UBS' private wealth offices in the United States, which include branches in New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and Stamford, Connecticut.
He started his career as an adviser at E.F. Hutton & Co in Tampa, Florida, later joining PaineWebber in 1994, and eventually UBS through its acquisition. Since then, he has worked as a branch manager, complex manager and regional director for the firm.
Reporting by Ashley Lau in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Andrew Hay