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Should UBS be dismembered?

Would the private bank be better off on its own?

UBS has finally given up pussyfooting around the redundancies issue. Instead of 1,500 cuts here and there, it appears to be opting for stronger medicine in the form of 8,000 cuts in the months to come.

But why opt for foul tasting expediencies when there’s the possibility of major surgery?

After shares in UBS fell to their lowest level in nine years earlier this week, no options are off the table – and the best option may be to split off the investment bank.

Should UBS private bankers get mean? Vent your spleen below…

Comments (17)

  1. Now its the best choice, to split UBS. Maybe IB was never a great idea. You cannot be the best in all categories, or maybe they should hire more efficiently (less sons of millionares/clients).
    The talent does not depend on how much money your family has.
    People who have worked there might know well of what I am talking about.

  2. The IB is now valued in negative territory. There’s now point in holding onto it – except, of course, that finding a buyer in this market about as likely Goldman acquiring Dresdner.

  3. Fewer than 10% of UBS’ private banking referrals come from its investment bank. The model is clearly defunct…but that’s not stopping Thain from crowing that he’s about to try the same thing at Merrill. Wake up and smell the coffee boys.

  4. Get out of UBS now before it’s too late. Severely reduced risk aversion at the investment bank is a sure sign of lower profitablity, reduced pay, and a certain exodus of talent.

  5. Watch out for a higher number of unfair dismissal claims as UBS seeks to reduce headcount fast

  6. UBS are well known for taking a creative approach to headcount reduction since the first subprime hit in Q107. Dismissals for claimed poor performance (without following the performance monitoring procedure to ensure the employee have a fair opportunity to improve), alleged misconduct, claiming employees were abusing sick leave etc. Considering UBS is a bank who claims it is a “great place to work”, it is surely a very negative sign that they don’t take more care to protect their reputation. Perhaps the lawsuits from various stakeholder groups will encourage UBS to take a more responsible approach to the business

  7. UBS should be torn limb from limb, really. In my opinion their redundancy procedures don’t have very much in common with UK employment law – but don’t let anyone fool you: you try and get them to court and they’ll run you out of money before you can blink, even if you have been treated unlawfully. It isn’t about integrity or a fair deal for employees. It’s about who’s holding the folding. My advice to any UBS employee in the process of being shafted (and in my experience it will happen, just as night follows day): get the hell out as fast as you can and dont’ think about pursuing them in court. Their budget for litigation is thousands of times greater than yours, and they’d rather spend money on lawyers than on mediating a fair deal with you.

  8. Jane, thanks for your comments. It’s good to hear someone being so honest instead of pretending UBS is such a wonderful employer. I also know UBS has deep pockets and try to run you to the ground financially to avoid litigation. I was lucky to have been given advice to check if I had legal expenses insurance. Most private individuals are covered without even realising. It is probably included in one of your credit agreements, for me it was in my home insurance. I was able to get a 300/hr solicitor under my insurance cover. I had to fight hard and they did play dirty to get me to back down, but I took the view I just had enough of them trying to damage my reputation and make me feel I had done something wrong. In reality, the bank has to make a specific number of cuts from each business area. My manager chose to try to cut me because I had been bullied before and it reflected badly on his management ability. I sincerely hope you find somewhere better to work than UBS. UBS has really tried to knock my confidence but I feel I have come out a much stronger and they need to know people will stand up to them

  9. Another point for Anonymous: UBS has been at it on creative headcount reduction much longer than since Q107: haven’t you heard the one about the dozen or so equity researchers all picked for the chop in September/October 2001 – who were told that they were picked on the basis of their performance appraisals? Those same performance appraisals undertaken in December 2001?

  10. Thanks, Anonymous, I appreciate your comments about legal insurance. Unfortunately, many legal expenses insurance options have specific exclusions on both Employment and Data law, both of which are crucial if you are to pursue a bank which has falsified/holds inaccurate and damaging data about you. We went the Litigant in Person route to the High Court, requesting a document which in my opinion demonstrates that the bank had ‘massaged’ personal data to suit its cost-cutting agenda of the time. (And, coincidentally, accidentally sent out to uninvolved third parties, which wasn’t very professional). Unfortunately, although the court says you should normally opt for what’s called a ‘Pre-Action Disclosure’ application (it saves court time and resources), the one area of law that this doesn’t seem to cover is Data Protection. As litigants in person, you don’t really have much chance against a big team of legal heavies, with barristers et al,retained by UBS, all saying you can’t have the document until you make a claim. And then hitting you with thousands of pounds in costs for daring to try. Puts you off a bit.

  11. Hey Jane, sorry to hear about your situation. With respect to legal insurance, I was advised by various solicitors to look for this cover which is more common nowadays for Employment law. I was lucky to find it in my home policy, but I accept that some LEIs are more restrictive than others eg which solicitors you can appoint and whether they believe you have a good prospect of success. Some insurance companies are reading their legal cover more restrictively in current market conditions, but you can challenge this by writing to the Financial Services Ombudsman if the complaint is specific to your case, or the FSA if a clause is unfair (eg it would not be obvious to a layperson that the policy did not cover certain items). You can also get banks to cover your legal costs as part of the settlement, so if you have a good prospect of success it may be worth taking out short term financing eg 0% credit card (which you can still get depending on your credit score) and then paying it down after settlement. It’s not easy fighting, but you do get great satisfaction for standing your ground

  12. Hey Jane, I agree Data Protection is a difficult area. The bank does tend to withhold critical documents under Subject Access Requests, saying you’ll have to wait till the case reaches the Hearing stage at the ET. Any documents they do send are likely to be heavily blacked out eg the names of third parties emails were sent to. It is quite a negative sign that numerous cases can be found on the internet where the bank have denied SARs to employees. There is clearly an inequality of bargaining power. While this can be intimidating, in terms of costs (some LEIs will cover SARs as it provides evidence critical to the case) and the obstacles they throw in your way, which can be difficult if the situation is impacting your health etc. At the end of the day no bank actually wants to be taken to court and have their dirty laundry exposed. I’m sure the bank does not want their Employee Handbook scrutinised for conformity with Employment Law. For the employee, a lot of it is about opportunism eg finding sources of financing and compelling arguments to take the case forward. I don’t think the bank’s legal team are that competent, even as a layperson I can counter their arguments convincingly

  13. Hey guys, thanks to all you Anonymous folk out there giving your advice so generously. Just to let you know, we haven’t given up on our battle to get to the truth, and we are exploring all avenues to achieve this. It’s been six long and stressful years, and the UBS is very wrong if they think we’ll give up just because of one setback, however much they try to intimidate with horrendous costs bills. When you know you’re telling the truth, and you haven’t cheated anybody, it’s a powerful motivation to give the bully boys a run for their money.

  14. Jane, really sorry to hear your battle has been going on for so long. I’m surprised they haven’t suggested settlement. The bad publicity of employee litigation can’t be doing them any good when there are so many other stakeholders interested in pursuing a claim against them in the current market. Good luck for pursuing your claim, I think you probably deserve any figure you get from the bank. At the end of the day, the bank is insured for these types of risks, so it is not going to do them much harm just paying out. I’m sure it hasn’t been great for your health or well being having to fight for so long. I hope it gives you strength knowing you’re not the only one out there fighting this bank. Bullies need someone to stand up to them – what you’re doing will help many other employees who don’t have your strength to fight and it will hopefully encourage the bank to review their Employee Handbook to reduce litigation risk. Good luck and stay strong!

  15. Jane, it may be worth checking this advice with your legal team to assess the implications for your case eg whether it would be prejudicial. Last year the Dresdner 6 gave a number of interviews to the press and various women’s magazines. It is potentially one solution to your funding needs. It’s also a good way to get the message across that the Bank’s behaviour is totally unacceptable. Best of luck in your fight!

  16. I am overwhelmed with the response here. Thank you. In fact, we tried to settle this in late 2003, offering to ‘go away’ if the bank paid our estimated legal expenses (then about 10K). They declined, which I still find amazing. Since then, of course, the legal bill has rocketed, the stress levels too.

  17. I think if you have a good claim it is always worth pursuing banks like UBS and there is definitely more support nowadays for the private litigant to redress the inequality of bargaining power. Naturally they will try to undermine your credibility and reputation and they will play dirty, but it’s about sending a message that their behaviour should not be tolerated. When banks fail to comply with the relevant law they should pay damages, to encourage them to take their employment law responsibilities more seriously in future. It is sheer arrogance on the part of management for them to think they are above the law

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