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UBS to keep Credit Suisse’s Asia wealth teams in growth bid

Bloomberg
Bloomberg • 3 min read
UBS to keep Credit Suisse’s Asia wealth teams in growth bid
Private bankers are in high demand in Asia, known for its huge growth potential where competition is fierce. Photo: Bloomberg
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UBS Group AG plans to retain a few hundred Credit Suisse private bankers in the Asia Pacific region, bringing its total to more than 1,200 in one of the few areas spared from deep cuts, according to people familiar with the matter.

The move is being driven by global wealth chief Iqbal Khan, who is betting Asia will continue to generate lucrative clients, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing personnel matters. The integration will give UBS more relationship managers in the region than its closest rivals DBS Group Holdings Ltd. and HSBC Holdings Plc combined.

UBS had about 850 private bankers in the region at year-end, while Credit Suisse had 580, according to data from Asian Private Banker. Credit Suisse ranks have already fallen significantly from departures this year amid the turmoil, meaning the vast majority of those left will escape initial cuts.

The decision is another indicator that UBS views the acquisition of its closest rival as a way to fast-track its growth in the world’s fastest-growing wealth markets, while other businesses within Credit Suisse are braced for widespread job cuts. In the investment bank, UBS executives have told their Credit Suisse colleagues that they prefer selectively bolstering their ranks while dumping the riskier operations, Bloomberg has reported previously.

A UBS spokesperson declined to comment.

Switzerland’s largest bank is gaining a presence in India and Australia, where Credit Suisse had more significant wealth operations, said one of the people. The two banks were direct competitors in markets including Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan, and that may lead to some trimming of jobs later on if too much overlap is found, the person said.

See also: MAS fines Credit Suisse $3.9 mil for misconduct by its relationship managers

UBS was already the biggest wealth manager in Asia excluding China before it pushed ahead with the acquisition, topping its rivals both in terms of assets under management and headcount, according to Asian Private Banker estimates.

Khan recently recruited banker Young Jin Yee from Deutsche Bank AG, less than six months after she had jumped to the German lender from Credit Suisse.

See also: Credit Suisse's Singapore private bankers moving to UBS offices

Private bankers are in high demand in Asia, known for its huge growth potential where competition is fierce as firms including HSBC, Citigroup Inc. and Singapore’s DBS are all expanding.

The combination of the two financial giants begins in earnest now after the formal closing of the takeover on Monday, around three months after the Swiss state orchestrated the US$3 billion ($4.01 billion) deal as Credit Suisse headed for collapse. UBS top executives including Chairman Colm Kelleher have made clear that remaining Credit Suisse bankers would be put through a “culture filter” to weed out undesirable practices from the bank.

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