UBS: D-Day for Private Banking

Juerg Zeltner

Juerg Zeltner

The new structure at UBS Wealth Management will take effect in July. What this would mean for the Swiss private-banking so far was open to speculation. Research by finews.asia shows what they should expect.

The sweeping changes at UBS Wealth Management weren't announced the usual way: «Reuters» in May made public a letter by Juerg Zeltner to his staff explaining the impending reorganization.

Zeltner said the reorganization would save hundreds of millions for the bank, partly through job cuts. The bank wanted to streamline several back office units. The wealth management operations in Europe and emerging markets were to be merged under the management of Paul Raphael, who's in charge of the emerging markets business.

Fast Mover

Zeltner told his staff that he aimed to introduce the new structure by July 1 – which meant that he had a lot of work to do within a short period of time.

Now, after weeks of rumors and speculation, insiders told finews.asia that the changes for Swiss Wealth Management staff will be moderate in scale. UBS didn't comment on the information.

Profitability Saves Jobs

Zeltner's cost savings will hit the spendthrifts most – the profitable Swiss private bankers thus will not be affected much. Structures and regions will similarly remain untouched. Wealth Management Switzerland operates under the same ten regions as the units serving retail and corporate clients.

The cooperation between wealth management staff and other units is said to work well, according to sources finews.asia contacted.

Worse May Yet Come

Still, several branches so far this year missed their budgets significantly, according to the insiders – and if this turns out to be the start of a trend, the current reorganization may yet lead to further cuts later on.

First-quarter profit at UBS dropped more than 60 percent, missing analysts' expectations. The turbulence on financial markets affected the profitability of wealth management and securities trading.

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