Yesterday, Thomson Reuters released the results to its 2013 annual pan-European Extel survey of top brokerage firms. Ostensibly, UBS didn't do very well. After 12 years, the Swiss bank lost its top research ranking to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. It also lost its top equity sales ranking to Citi, although it still came first for equity trading.
More dramatic than UBS's overall Extel performance, however, was the precipitous drop in the rankings given to some of the Swiss bank's top analysts, several of whom slipped from market-leading positions to deep in the Extel wilderness. This looks serious: Extel rankings, based on fund manager votes, are typically seen as a proxy for pay - a top spot should mean a big bonus. A top ranking in Extel should also provide protection against equity research layoffs. On the other hand, poorly ranked researchers can expect to be poorly paid and will probably be first in line for the chop.
UBS's equity researchers have nothing to fear from their deteriorating Extel rankings, however. In eight out of nine of the cases we came across, a spokesman for the bank in London said there was a perfectly valid explanation for the researchers' seeming misfortune. In the ninth case, the researcher in question had been made redundant already.
These are the UBS analysts who plummeted in Extel. And this is why insiders at UBS said the bank doesn't mind. Interestingly, the cases below suggest UBS's European equity research team has been subject to serious internal job-shuffling.
1. Araceli Strassburger. Listed in Extel as: Pan-European small and mid caps. Went from 1st in 2012 to 17th in 2013. UBS doesn't mind because: She's been on maternity leave.
2. Polo Tang. Listed in Extel as: A media analyst. Went from 1st in 2012 to 9th in 2013. UBS doesn't mind because: Tang has been switched onto telecoms as well as media and is getting up to speed in his new area.
3. Ruary Neill. Listed in Extel as: Multi-asset equity research. Went from 1st in 2012 to 7th in 2012. UBS doesn't mind because: Neill has moved to a different part of the business.
4. Stephan Potgeiter. Listed in Extel as: South African country researcher. Went from 1st in 2012 to 14th in 2013. UBS doesn't mind because: Potgeiter still ranks first in the most important ranking in South Africa.
5. Stéphane Déo. Listed in Extel as: A pan-European economics and macro researcher. Went from 1st in 2012 to 9th in 2013. UBS doesn't mind because: Déo is now head of global asset allocation and doesn't work in research any more anyway.
6. Jean-Francois Meymandi. Listed in Extel as: Swiss small and mid caps research. Went from 2nd in 2012 to 11th in 2013. UBS doesn't mind because: Meymandi doesn't cover Swiss companies any more - he's been moved onto chemicals
7. Myles Allsop. Listed in Extel as: Forestry, paper and packaging research. Went from 2nd in 2012 to 8th in 2013. UBS doesn't mind because: Allsop doesn't cover paper and packaging any more; he's been moved onto metals and mining.
8. Thomas Gilbert. Listed in Extel as: A Swiss country researcher. Went from 3rd in 2012 to 17th in 2013. UBS doesn't mind because: Allsop doesn't actually work in Swiss country research, he's simply based in Switzerland and fund managers have chosen to vote for him.
9. Per Lekander. Listed in Extel as: A utilities researcher. Went from 1st in 2012 to 33rd in 2013. UBS doesn't mind because Per Lekander left the bank in April 2013 and UBS still has the top ranked utilities team.