Ermotti Says `Swissness' Key for UBS Staying No. 1 in Wealth

(Bloomberg) -- UBS Group AG Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti hasn’t always praised Switzerland as the best place to do business, but he maintains that being Swiss is an advantage when it comes to managing money for the world’s richest people.

“The vision for the next 10 years is to remain the largest wealth manager,” Ermotti said in Zurich on Thursday. “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.”

In October, the CEO told told Bloomberg Markets that “people should never take things for granted,” including staying in Switzerland, which he has criticized for having gone too far on regulation. While the number of banks in the country has been decreasing since the end of banking secrecy, UBS and Credit Suisse Group AG, the country’s top two lenders, succeeded by focusing on wealth.

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

Ermotti has been at the head of UBS since 2011. UBS chairman Axel Weber has said that he wants to stay in his job until 2022, adding that based on conversations with Ermotti, the CEO would also like to remain until then.

During his tenure, Ermotti steered UBS away from capital-heavy investment banking to focus on the more predictable business of wealth management after heavy losses during the financial crisis.

“How and where we will offer these services will change. We will grow exponentially in Asia in the next 10 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 back office costs. The CEO said Swiss stock exchange SIX, which is owned by the country’s banks, could play a key role in achieving that.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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