Lane Strumlauf heads the West Division of UBS Wealth Manage- ment Americas, where he runs
an 11-market, 68-office territory spread
across 13 states. He oversees about 1,400
financial advisors with some $200 billion
in client assets and also serves on WMA’s
Based in the San Francisco Bay Area,
Strumlauf has been in the business for
about 25 years. He reflects on what
he’s learned and what lies ahead in the
How did you begin your career in
I graduated from the University of
Florida with a degree in accounting, and after a few years in that
business, I realized that accounting wasn’t for me. I wanted more
control over my own destiny and a
more direct influence on my compensation.
Working as a financial advisor, I realized that the harder I worked the more
control I could have over my income
potential. So at the age of 26, I made
the switch, and Shearson-Lehman hired
me as an entry-level financial advisor
My start was making cold calls to high-net-worth individuals and selling newly
issued preferred stock. It was a great fit
and I’ve never looked back.
What have you learned from your
Over the years, many different supervisors have taught me a lot. I guess you
might say that I’m an optimist and much
of that comes from leaders who showed
me how to develop and maintain a positive attitude.
I’ve picked up several mottos and
mantras along the way. It all starts with
“Always do the right thing.” My manag-
ers made it clear that putting clients and
colleagues first always pays off.
I also learned that as a leader, it’s wise
to under promise and over deliver. Too
often people in business do the opposite
and especially in a relationship business, you can’t get far by disappointing
people — clients or colleagues.
I’ve also learned that everything happens for a reason, and things usually work
out the way they are supposed to. Often
in your career, it doesn’t feel that way
in the moment when you are surprised
or disappointed, but with time, things
can work out.
For me, I’m kind of the poster child
for being fortunate in my career in ways
that I didn’t always immediately recognize. Most of the career events that
I thought were setbacks or didn’t generate the recognition or opportunities
when I wanted, turned out to be blessings in disguise. Over and over again,
the path that I thought was a diversion
or a disappointment led to bigger and
What have the broker-dealers you
have worked for taught you that
has most influenced your career?
I don’t know that any particular firm
taught me more than another. It’s the
people you work with that you learn
from. But I have seen a lot of change in
the industry over the years and a lot of
firms have not changed for the better.
When I started with Shearson-Lehm-
an, there was a small feel to the orga-
nization. Senior leadership was visible
and really involved with advisors in a
significant way. They were much closer
to the clients.
As different firms merged over the
years that feeling went away. The firms
got too big and it felt different. Ten years
ago when I joined UBS, its small firm feel
was really exciting for me.
To be back at a place with a singular
wealth management focus and a concentration on the private client, for me it felt
right. And UBS has only continued with
that emphasis and feel. It was always
a relatively flat organization and it has
Senior leadership has been involved in a real, significant way for
the past ten years. That helps good
people make good decisions thinking
of the client and their advisors first
and foremost. It’s why I love working
with UBS and why I believe we have
a unique advantage. Senior leaders at
the firm wake up thinking about wealth
management first, which is good for clients and employees.
What is the most significant
change you have seen at your
Most significant is how the role of the
branch manager has changed. Our branch
managers’ roles have become more about
being a leader in the communities in
which they work and a leader helping
advisors do a better job for their clients.
Our structural changes in the middle of
last year moved empowerment and decision making closer to the advisor, who is
closest to the client.
This has been part of a steady evolution, but it really took off when Tom
Naratil became president at the beginning of 2016. He has always expressed
the vision of “feeling small and playing
big,” and we are bringing that vision to
Most of the career events
that I thought were set-
backs or didn’t generate the
recognition or opportunities
when I wanted, turned out to
be blessings in disguise.