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A pedestrian shelters under an umbrella while passing a UBS Group AG bank branch in Zurich, Switzerland, on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. A UBS loan backed by shares of Steinhoff International Holdings NV was to blame for the majority of the Swiss bank’s 79 million francs ($82 million) in credit losses in the fourth quarter, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

(bloomberg)

(Bloomberg) -- UBS Group AG Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti still thinks being Swiss is an advantage when it comes to managing money for the world’s richest.

“The vision for the next ten years is to remain the largest wealth manager,” Ermotti said in Zurich on Thursday when asked about his aims as chief of Switzerland’s largest bank. “We are Swiss and this Swissness will help us a lot. Clients respect it -- I hope we will remain a global bank with a home base in Switzerland.”

Ermotti’s comments tempered his previous remarks made in a Bloomberg Markets interview last year. When referring to Nordea Bank AB’s move to relocate to Helsinki from Stockholm because of the regulatory burden in its home market, he said that “people should never take things for granted.” Those comments were interpreted by some local newspapers as lack of commitment to Switzerland, which he has criticized for having gone too far on regulation.

Read more: Ermotti Says Nothing Ever Certain, Not Even UBS Staying Swiss

The number of banks in Switzerland has been decreasing after the end of banking secrecy. Still, the country’s two top banks -- UBS and Credit Suisse Group AG -- have made managing money for the wealthy the core of their strategy.

“How and where we will offer these services will change -- we will grow exponentially in Asia in the next ten years and I am sure we will grow more locally in China as opposed to Hong Kong or Singapore,” Ermotti said, adding that his bank wants to grow more in the U.S. where it manages roughly $1.2 trillion in assets and offers investment-banking services.

Ermotti also said that Swiss banks should collaborate in their efforts to cut costs in the back office. The CEO said Swiss stock exchange SIX, which is owned by the country’s banks, could play a key role in that regard.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jan-Henrik Förster in Zurich at jforster20@bloomberg.net.

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

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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