The Lesser-Known Activities of UBS in the Asian Market

UBS is well known for its wealth management business in Asia. But the lesser-known activities of the Swiss banking giant in the region are also a source of interest.

Not many people know that the largest wealth manager in the world also offers services for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), which are available to Swiss companies abroad.

Roger Bieri 160The services are only available in selected markets: in Germany for some time, the US, and for the past two years also in Asia, as the UBS manager responsible for these services in Singapore and Hong Kong, Roger Bieri (pictured), told finews.ch. The initiative for developing this area came from Christine Novakovic, who joined UBS in 2011 and initially lead the Corporate & Institutional Clients (CIC) division. In April 2014 she took over responsibility for Corporate Clients Switzerland as well as the investment bank in Switzerland, as reported by finews.ch (article in German).

For Business Clients Abroad

Novakovic set about scaling up the palette of service available in Switzerland for business clients abroad. UBS offered a range of services to Swiss SMEs which they could access without any great administrative effort.

Companies that already did business with UBS in Switzerland got the most out of this arrangement, according to Bieri, Head Corporate & Institutional Clients APAC, who is based in Singapore and works closely with his colleagues in Hong Kong and Switzerland.

Aircraft Financing

It is worth noting that UBS does not operate any corporate client business abroad, with the exception of this niche in the target markets mentioned above, where the bank is not primarily targeting large Swiss companies but also SMEs. «We can make a difference here as a Swiss bank,» Bieri said, «especially because we speak our clients’ language and can provide personal service and advice, which they might otherwise find hard to access abroad.»

For branches and subsidiaries of Swiss companies in Singapore or Hong Kong UBS offers a range of local services, such as cash management through local bank accounts for payment transactions and currency transactions, trade financing as well as other financing solutions.

As well as that the client may avail of the rest of the UBS palette of services in Asia, such as investment banking, wealth management (including aircraft financing) and asset management.

Goal: 20 per Cent Market Share

In the slipstream of the massive wealth management business UBS, with its long-standing presence in Asia, is developing a small but highly promising business area. Taking into account the long-term growth rate in the Far East, particularly in China, as well as the technological possibilities today, this area is destined to become more important.

By the end of 2015, Bieri is aiming to carve out a market share of 20 per cent of the coverage of corporate clients in the region. The client potential is more than 500 clients in Singapore and Hong Kong together, he told finews.ch.

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