UBS AG is a Swiss-based financial services giant, offering wealth management, investment banking, asset management and retail and commercial banking. With headquarters in Zurich and Basel, the company has offices in more than 50 countries. The name comes from predecessor firm Union Bank of Switzerland.
UBS was one of the banks hit worst by the financial crisis, according to The Wall Street Journal. Its investment bank, hit particularly hard, is scaling back. UBS was forced to raise additional capital amid losses and received an emergency Swiss government-aid package. A comprehensive reorganization is in the works and management expects a profit turnaround in 2010. Meantime, UBS has shed thousands of jobs, lost key client advisers and lost numerous investment-bank employees. While the bank has doubled salaries for many investment bankers and set aside a sizable pot for bonuses, it is no longer offering multiyear bonus guarantees to attract top talent.
Meantime, UBS recently shut down its offshore money-management business for wealthy American investors at its private bank in Switzerland and routed that business to its U.S. wealth-management unit, formerly PaineWebber. It recently hired ex-Merrill Lynch executive Robert McCann to head the unit. Rumor is that he is readying the platform for a spin-off. The bank settled a civil case with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, a deal which may involve the handover to U.S. authorities of account details of suspected U.S. tax cheats, the Journal reports. Among the bank's challenges are restoring client trust and retaining financial advisers. Robert Wolf, chief executive of UBS Group Americas, has been a White House adviser and a member of President Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board. A former University of Pennsylvania fullback and ex-Salomon Brothers bond trader, Wolf has become a Democratic fundraiser and a friend of the president.
Employees who survived thus far at UBS AG might be able to breathe a little easier. Top management expects a profit turnaround in 2010 and the upbeat forecast should make employees feel a bit more confident in their job security after a massive reorganization following the financial crisis claimed thousands of jobs, including those of senior managers.
UBS recently pushed out a new eight-page employee ethics code. Among its dictates: an employee code explicit ban on helping clients cheat on taxes.
To foster innovation and individual career development, the company encourages cross-border and cross-division transfer. Recently the most common moves have been from Switzerland to Asia-Pacific regions and from investment banking to global wealth management and business banking.