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UBS Group AG has eliminated more than 150 support jobs globally in recent months, adding to European and U.S. financial services companies dismissing workers to rein in costs, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The Swiss bank cut positions serving the lender’s wealth, asset management and investment banking activities, the people said, asking not to be identified as the matter is private. The majority of cuts are in corporate center positions such as human resources, IT, marketing, and risk departments, they said.

“As we’ve previously said, we are slowing down hiring and delaying replacements to counter market headwinds,” UBS said in a statement. “There is no specific headcount or role reduction program. As any other company, we always have a certain level of attrition."

Since culling thousands of investment banking jobs after the financial crisis, Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti has resisted pressure from some investors for large-scale layoffs, opting instead for smaller cuts with less impact on morale. Earlier this year he promised $300 million in additional cost cuts, to be achieved by slowing hiring and the pace of investments, in response to deteriorating markets.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is dismissing hundreds of workers in its asset and wealth-management division after a periodic staffing review, according to a person briefed on the matter. Nomura Holdings Inc. is embarking on yet another sweeping overhaul of its international business, as it cuts $1 billion of costs and fires dozens of employees.

Cutting back-office costs has been a focus of UBS and its crosstown rival Credit Suisse Group AG for years. Switzerland’s biggest banks -- competitors in investment banking and wealth management -- have previously held early stage talks about combining some back-office functions, people with knowledge of the matter said last year.

UBS has introduced an informal rule at its wealth management business to allow the hiring of one back-office employee only if five are leaving, people familiar with the matter said last month. For client-facing staff, the rule is less strict: Managers can hire one banker for two that depart, the people said.

The task of executing cuts at the corporate center falls to Sabine Keller-Busse, who became chief operating officer at the beginning of last year in a reshuffle. In an investor presentation in London in October she pledged to reduce the cost of servicing UBS’s business divisions by $800 million over three years.

UBS spends around $4 billion, or about one quarter of its wage bill, on the corporate center, which employs more than 30,000 staff.

(Adds UBS back office hiring from seventh paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Winters in Zurich at pwinters3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net, Christian Baumgaertel

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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