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UBS Mulls Bonus for Investment Bankers Who Lure Rich Clients

(Bloomberg) — UBS Group AG is considering introducing a reward system for investment bankers who refer clients to the firm’s wealth management business, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Some bankers would likely be in line for payouts in Asia and Europe when they successfully attract new money to the lender’s private banking unit, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential plans. The referral fees would be a first for the Zurich-based lender, echoing earlier incentives that Credit Suisse had offered to its dealmakers, the people said.

The exact form of the rewards is still being discussed by top executives, said one of the people. No decision has yet been made and the referral fees may not materialize after all, they added. A UBS spokesperson declined to comment.

The considerations underscore how Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti is searching for ways to expand the bank’s invested assets and narrow the gap with US-based Morgan Stanley. UBS has targeted growing private banking assets to more than $5 trillion after buying Credit Suisse last year following a run on deposits that brought its competitor close to collapse. 

Read More: UBS’s Ermotti Targets More Billionaires After Credit Suisse Deal

At Credit Suisse, where wealth management head Iqbal Khan spent six years, closer ties between investment banking and wealth divisions had helped to propel revenues and turn the banker into a rising star of Switzerland’s close-knit private banking world. The surprise takeover brought Khan back in contact with many of his former colleagues.

The Credit Suisse acquisition, in theory, means UBS now has a bigger, more sophisticated investment bank to help funnel entrepreneurs — who need banking, initial public offering and deals advice — into wealth management services once they get rich. 

To be sure, extending business with rich individuals across different divisions of the bank can pose risks if clients aren’t properly vetted. Credit Suisse saw a number of relationships blow up in recent years, from Bill Hwang at Archegos Capital Management to Lex Greensill at his eponymous finance company and Luckin Coffee founder Lu Zhengyao. 

Prior to the takeover, Khan, who worked at Credit Suisse until 2019, played a major role in bringing several former colleagues to UBS, including Young Jin Yee, a co-head for Asia-Pacific wealth management. 

UBS earlier this week delivered a first-quarter profit that was three times what analysts forecast. It is targeting the completion of the legal merger with Credit Suisse by May 31.

–With assistance from Cathy Chan, Ambereen Choudhury and Denise Wee.

(Adds earnings and merger completion target in last paragraph.)

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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