Switzerland’s 437-year-old Wolfsberg castle has welcomed the likes of Alexandre Dumas and Franz Liszt. In September, UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti gathered the bank’s top executives there for dinner.
On the table that night, in a hall where the words carpe diem were plastered over long ago, was a plan to boost returns for shareholders of the country’s biggest bank, Bloomberg Markets will report in its February issue.
UBS had been under pressure since losing more than $57bn during the financial crisis. So had its main competitor, Credit Suisse Group AG. In 2011, Swiss lawmakers approved some of the strictest capital and liquidity rules in the world, forcing the banks to cut risk taking and boost equity at the expense of profit in their securities units.
The end of banking secrecy, which had helped the firms attract funds from rich clients around the world, was challenging a century-old wealth-management model. A 32-year-old former UBS employee, Kweku Adoboli, would go on trial in London the next week in connection with a $2.3bin loss, the largest from unauthorized trading in British history.
'For banks domiciled in Switzerland, doing business and making money has become more difficult', central bank President Thomas Jordan told financiers at a conference in Zurich two days before UBS’s Wolfsberg meeting. 'Pressure on the Swiss financial center has been intensifying'.
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