May 24, 2024

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UBS weighs bonus for investment bankers who refer rich clients

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UBS considering introducing a reward system for investment bankers who refer clients to the firm’s wealth management business, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Some bankers would likely be in line for payouts in Asia and Europe when they successfully attract new money to the lender’s private banking unit, said the people, asking not to be identified discussing confidential plans. The referral fees would be a first for the Zurich-based lender, echoing earlier incentives that Credit Suisse had offered to its deal makers, the people said.

The exact form of the rewards is still being discussed by top executives, said one of the people. No decision has yet been made and the referral fees may not materialise after all, they added. A spokesperson for Zurich-based UBS declined to comment.

The considerations underscore how Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti is searching for ways to expand the bank’s invested assets and narrow the gap with US-based Morgan Stanley. UBS has targeted growing private banking assets to more than US$5 trillion after buying Credit Suisse last year following a run on deposits that brought its competitor close to collapse.

Logos of Swiss banks Credit Suisse and UBS are seen before a news conference in Zurich Switzerland, August 30, 2023. Photot: Reuters

At Credit Suisse, where wealth management head Iqbal Khan spent six years, closer ties between investment banking and wealth divisions had helped to propel revenues and turn the banker into a rising star of Switzerland’s close-knit private banking world. The surprise takeover brought Khan back in contact with many of his former colleagues.

The Credit Suisse acquisition, in theory, means UBS now has a bigger, more sophisticated investment bank to help funnel entrepreneurs – who need banking, initial public offering and deals advice – into wealth management services once they get rich.

UBS to launch Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong this month

To be sure, extending business with rich individuals across different divisions of the bank can pose risks if clients aren’t properly vetted. Credit Suisse saw a number of relationships blow up in recent years, from Bill Hwang at Archegos Capital Management to Lex Greensill at his eponymous finance company and Luckin Coffee founder Lu Zhengyao.

Prior to the takeover, Khan, who worked at Credit Suisse until 2019, played a major role in bringing several former colleagues to UBS, including Young Jin Yee, a co-head for Asia-Pacific wealth management.


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