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UPB Swiss wealth manager looks at London as Brexit looms

Exterior view of the Swiss headquarters of the Union Bancaire Privee, UBP

UBP was founded in 1969.

(Keystone)

UBP, the Private bank, is about to buy a UK investment boutique in a sign of how Swiss wealth managers intend to increase their London business ready for Brexit.

Some Swiss bankers fear the post-Brexit City could snatch business from Geneva as a centre for offshore financial advice to the world’s ultra-wealthy.

UBP, which manages $125bn for clients, is close to finalising a deal to buy ACPI, a specialist wealth manager overseeing $4bn assets, according to two people involved in the negotiations. ACPI is run by Brett Lankester, a former managing director in Goldman Sachs’ UK private wealth management division. It has 70 staff.

UBP plans to merge ACPI with its UK business, which is a similar size. Wealth managers are typically valued at 1.5-2 per cent of their assets under management. This is understood to be the size of the ACPI deal.

UBP declined to comment. ACPI said the deal had not been finalised.

The expansion of UBP in the UK follows similar moves by Swiss banks such as Lombard Odier and Julius Baer.

“Post-Brexit, the UK is going to become a bigger booking centre for wealthy clients overseas,” said one person briefed on the talks. “That is why UBP is buying this business.”

The UK’s strong regulatory environment and deep pool of investment professionals make it a big competitor to Switzerland.

Some Swiss market commentators fear that rich European and Middle Eastern individuals could move assets to London if the UK makes a big push to attract offshore business.

+ Can fintech save Swiss private banking?

In May, Guy de Picciotto, chief executive of UBP, told FTfm that the bank was considering deals. “If there is potential to increase the asset base through acquisitions, we will certainly look at it,” he said. “If not in Switzerland, then definitely in Asia, and we need to strengthen our London bank, whatever the outcome of Brexit.”

Last year Julius Baer, which manages $400bn, opened regional offices in the UK and hired 30 more bankers.

At the time of the announcement, senior executives at fellow Swiss banks UBS, Credit Suisse, Pictet and Société Générale told the Financial Times they planned to accelerate investments in the UK by hiring extra staff and opening regional offices.

Lombard Odier, another Swiss private bank, has increased the size of its UK operation in recent years.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018.

Financial Times

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