Is UBS quietly cutting UK private bankers?

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It's common knowledge that UBS' investment bank is rapidly rightsizing in the wake of $48.6bn of writedowns. However, the UBS wealth management business has done relatively well with pre-tax earnings of CHF5.1bn in the first three quarters.

Why, therefore, is the Swiss bank allegedly embarked upon what one private banking headhunter describes as 'a dramatic cull' of its UK private banking operations?

UBS declined to comment. But back in May it announced plans for 5,500 job cuts, of which only 2,600 were expected to come from the investment bank (it announced another 2,000 investment banking job cuts in October).

If UBS is cutting private bankers, it's at odds with rivals such as Credit Suisse, which still appear to be in expansion mode. Brady Dougan has, for example, hired an additional 370 client advisors this year.

According to headhunters, all of whom declined to comment on the record, UBS' UK trimming reflects an obsession with cost cutting: "They have decided that their focus for the next 12 months is more costs than revenues," says one.

The alleged UK private banking cull is all the more surprising given that UBS lost 10% of its London private client advisors to Vestra Wealth back in May.

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