UBS CEO says bank ‘bucking the trend’ as rivals fire bankers

Swiss lender does not plan mass job cuts, unlike Goldman Sachs and BNY Mellon

UBS does not plan to make the large-scale job cuts seen at global peers as the business of making investments for wealthy clients continues to see robust growth, chief executive Ralph Hamers said.

“We are not in retrenchment mode,” Hamers said in an interview with Bloomberg Television at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday. “We are hiring for what we call critical jobs. In Asia Pacific, in the Middle East, we are hiring absolutely because we have the momentum,” he said.

With Europe and the US flirting with recession, and after a year of weak deal-making, firms including Goldman Sachs and BNY Mellon are cutting thousands of jobs as they focus on trimming costs. Hamers’ optimism underscores the divergence in outlook for global growth, with the Middle East in particular enjoying an energy-related cash windfall.

“We are really bucking the trend when it comes to asset management and wealth management,” Hamers said. Bank of America has also said that it plans to increase the number of advisers in wealth management after the business set records.


Hamers’ cautious optimism was echoed by Christiana Riley, head of Deutsche Bank’s business in the Americas. She signalled that the bank is “selectively, opportunistically looking at what the market may present in terms of hiring” in a separate interview in Davos.

Optimism is also rebounding in Asia as China abruptly called an end to its strict pursuit of Covid Zero and partially reopened its borders to foreign travelers. Globally, M&A deals shrank 33 per cent last year, with Asian deal-making sliding 22 per cent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

UBS expects its Asian wealth business to grow this year, Asia Pacific President Edmund Koh told Bloomberg last week. He too vowed to add talent to his division.

UBS’s total headcount crested 72,000 in the third quarter last year, up by 3,347 since the end of 2019, according to filings. The bank’s shares are up 8% in the past 12 months. – Bloomberg