When UBS wealth manager Abdallah Najia came to Switzerland from Dubai in March for a week of training, he was as stunned by the message as by the scenery.
'The first couple of days have been shocking', Najia, who advises clients with more than $50 million to invest, said during a break between lectures on March 20 at UBS-owned Hotel Seepark on the shores of Lake Thun with views of pyramid-shaped Niesen mountain. 'They sort of cut our legs off and said you guys are at risk of extinction. We need to evolve'.
Bloomberg reports that the shock therapy was offered to Najia and 34 other client advisers of the world’s second-biggest private bank as part of an effort to jolt them into reinventing the wealth-management business.
Boosting profit at the unit is paramount for the success of the firm, as UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti is cutting 10,000 jobs and shrinking the investment bank by exiting most debt trading.
'The success of the wealth-management business is fundamental to where the stock goes over the next five years', said Christopher Wheeler, a London-based analyst with Mediobanca SpA, who has a neutral recommendation on UBS shares. 'It’s the core business, and a number of other businesses feed off it, not the least asset management'.
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image: © University of Salford