The U.S. brokerage arm of UBS AG shook up its leadership ranks on Friday, removing a layer of management under Chief Executive Officer Robert McCann and giving private wealth management head Jason Chandler a bigger role.

McCann, 54, the former Merrill Lynch executive who took over UBS Wealth Management Americas in 2009, also gave some top lieutenants more duties as he takes on an expanded role as chief executive of UBS Americas, according to an internal memo distributed on Friday.

The changes come as the brokerage unit, which was losing advisers and bleeding client assets after the financial crisis, returned to profitability last year.

We're in a different place than we were two-and-a-half years ago, and we require a different leadership structure to make the next leg of the journey, McCann told Reuters in an interview. Our strategy hasn't changed, but our position has changed.

UBS, which suffered massive losses during the credit crisis and a $2 billion rogue trading scandal, is retooling its investment banking and trading business to take less risk and to concentrate on supporting the global personal wealth business.

The Swiss bank in November put McCann in charge of all its investment banking and brokerage activities in the Americas. He is expected to spend more time meeting and courting clients, and leading efforts to integrate underwriting and corporate finance with wealth management.

Under the new leadership, there will be fewer direct reports to McCann but an expanded group of 16 top-level executives. Many of the new names on the executive committee represent the next generation of leadership, McCann said.

Among the most significant moves, Robert Mulholland, McCann's top lieutenant and a fellow Merrill veteran who runs brokerage field operations, will now also be in charge of investment products and platforms.

Chandler, who has run the firm's high-net-worth business, now takes over UBS brokerage field operations across the United States as two regional divisions are eliminated. Eleven regional managers will report to Chandler.

Eastern division leader David McWilliams takes on a newly created role of wealth management transformation, responsible for expanding the firm's relationships beyond investments to include more lending and financial planning.

Western division head Mike Schweitzer is leaving the firm.

Another key move is the elevation of Dan Cochran to chief operating officer, responsible for finance, risk, operations and technology - essentially the day-to-day operations of the wealth management division. He replaces Anita Sands, who will now report to Cochran and focus on technology and operations.

Paula Polito, who had been chief marketing officer, also will be the client strategy officer responsible for helping UBS attract more business from younger investors who are strong potential clients as they accumulate more wealth. Polito also is responsible for corporate business and retirement services.

Brian Hull, meanwhile, was named head of strategic clients and partnerships. He plays a key role in developing relationships with colleagues within UBS investment bank and asset management, and with third parties that provide research and manage money for UBS clients, the memo said.

The memo said McCann and UBS group CEO Sergio Ermotti will host an April 3 town hall meeting with Americas employees to discuss the bank's strategy for the region.

(Reporting By Joseph A. Giannone; Editing by Walden Siew, Gerald E. McCormick and Matthew Lewis)