Lori B. Feinsilver, UBS Group Americas

Lori B. Feinsilver

Impact-Driven Philanthropy

Editors’ Note

Lori Feinsilver also leads the UBS Foundation USA. She is also responsible for managing all communications activities for the CEO of UBS Group Americas and his leadership team. Prior to joining UBS, Feinsilver enjoyed a 10-year career at Merrill Lynch where she held a number of leadership positions within communications and marketing. Most recently, she was Head of Communications for Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and a member of the U.S. Wealth Management and Private Banking & Investment Group Operating Committees. When the firm was acquired by Bank of America in 2008, Feinsilver assumed the additional role of communication lead for the wealth management integration, responsible for developing and distributing new policies, procedures, key messages, and materials to more than 34,000 employees nationwide. Previously, Feinsilver spent five years as a speechwriter for the Chairman & CEO of Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.

Company Brief

With a 150-year history and a network of offices in over 50 countries on five continents, UBS (UBS.com) has extensive experience managing the wealth of high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals. Their global strategy is centered on strengthening UBS’s leading global Wealth Management franchise, while integrating and finding synergies among the Investment Bank and Global Asset Management divisions to deliver outstanding solutions for their clients. The UBS Wealth Management Americas approach is based on the trusted relationship of their Financial Advisors with their clients. Their experienced Advisors are committed to understanding clients’ needs and delivering insightful, informed advice to help them realize their financial goals.

You often speak of impact-driven efforts. How have you tried to implement that within your philanthropic activities?

When we look at where corporate philanthropy is today, a tremendous amount of money is being dedicated to addressing a range of social issues. As such, we need to approach this space like any other investment – seeking well-defined results and impact. Just because these are community investments doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be deliverables or expectations ascribed to them. As I see it, if we want to be purposeful in our giving, we should be purposeful in our goals.

When we look at it that way, having a social ROI attached to our efforts makes sense. If we do a better job of targeting our community investments at UBS and being transparent about their intended impact, I believe we can make a huge difference.

Was it important to focus on smaller projects where you could make bigger impact?

We’ve been very deliberate in creating more targeted programs within our two global focus areas at UBS – education and entrepreneurship – as well as narrowing the number of nonprofit partners we work with. Importantly, we now structure these partnerships as multi-year relationships where possible, enabling us to better track and measure results, and to make adjustments as needed.

It’s very important to me that we are bringing to bear not just UBS’s financial capital, but also our intellectual and human capital. UBS is essentially in the advice business – providing strategic guidance to our clients. We take the same approach in our community-based work, through mentoring or providing business expertise, all to achieve a greater impact.

Would you talk about your marquis programs in education and entrepreneurship, and how metrics are used to track success in those areas?

We have strategic initiatives in both of our focus areas – UBS Elevating Entrepreneurs (EE) is our portfolio of partnerships and programs committed to bringing the right resources to the right entrepreneurs. The overall goal is to spur economic growth by helping businesses further develop, prosper, and create jobs.

The program has three pillars: The first is high-impact mentoring by UBS financial advisors and clients – many of whom are first-generation wealth and have built businesses from the ground-up. Small business owners in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago – three of our largest markets – receive guidance as well as workshops and access to the functional expertise of a global bank.

The second is capital. We know that access to capital is one of the biggest barriers to growth for small businesses. Together with our colleagues at UBS Bank USA and VEDC, a national CDFI, we developed a lending platform that is now providing up to $32 million in loan capital across eight different states.

The third pillar of Elevating Entrepreneurs is training. We partner with a number of best-in-class organizations – including ICIC, LaunchTennessee, and Venture for America – to provide high-impact support for our small business participants and the broader entrepreneurial community.

In the education space, our signature initiative is UBS NextGen Leaders, a $10-million commitment to increase college graduation rates among low-income, first-generation students.

We just launched the initiative last June, so it’s still in early stages, but already we are building two programs to address this opportunity. One is a five-year intensive college and career success program for young men of color that we’re doing in partnership with SEO Scholars. It’s part of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative and provides academic and psychosocial support, leadership development, and other programming for a cohort of African-American and Hispanic/Latino 12th graders.

The second program is a scalable, technology-based effort that seeks to improve college matching and student success. Our partner on this is the Tennessee College Access and Success Network (TCASN), based in Nashville, Tennessee – a state that is considered a leader in education and innovative programming to boost post-secondary achievement.

For both of these initiatives, we track our progress quarterly. For EE, we measure everything from the total number of loans, jobs created and retained, and support for women- and minority-owned businesses. For UBS NextGen Leaders, we will measure things like applications to competitive schools, acceptance rates, and persistence rates.

How do you engage employees in these efforts?

While there are some opportunities for skills-based engagement within our signature programs, given our targeted focus areas, we’ve actually developed a broader program to encourage employee volunteerism of all kinds.

UBS Community Corps, which we announced last October, centers around an annual Season of Service – a three-month campaign to mobilize our colleagues to work together on projects that are important to their communities. Outside of the Season, we support other types of targeted, employee-based initiatives across our major businesses.

In 2014, nearly 3,500 UBS Americas employees logged almost 30,000 hours of service – both all-time records. Our goal is to achieve 50 percent employee participation in UBS volunteer programs by 2017.•