If you work at UBS, you should perhaps be afraid. The Swiss bank is analysts’ latest darling, but that doesn’t mean that banking jobs there are safe.
As has been pointed out this morning by Christopher Wheeler, director at Mediobanca in London, back in the third quarter of 2012 UBS promised to make 10,000 redundancies across the bank by 2017. As of the end of 2013, it had only eliminated 3,540 people.
Wheeler thinks UBS will want to demonstrate its prowess at making investment bankers redundant ahead of its investor update early next month. By that time, he predicts that another 1,000 jobs will have gone.
There are already signs that UBS is gently hacking away at staff in Broadgate Circle. Since the start of 2014, around 30 registered staff have left UBS’s London office without jobs to go to, according to the FCA Register. Last week, the Swiss blog Inside ParadePlatz reported that UBS was making ‘hundreds’ of MDs and directors redundant in its investment bank and corporate centre. Yesterday, Dealbreaker said cuts were happening in New York.
UBS declined to comment on whether it plans to make additional nifty job cuts ahead of its May 6th investors. Last September, UBS chief executive Sergio Ermotti announced (optimistically and seemingly incorrectly) that the bank was “halfway through its job cuts”. Having made “structural changes” and cut much of its fixed income sales and trading capability, Ermotti said stage-two of the cuts would be about, “becoming more efficient and effective across the board in wealth management, the investment bank, asset management, in the way that we operate and support our businesses.”
Decoded, this suggests more jobs will go in both front office and back office roles in these areas.
Wheeler suggests that UBS has found it more difficult than expected to shed jobs rapidly in the investment bank because of the ongoing need for staff to support its CHF63bn legacy portfolio. He says it’s also found it necessary to make “strategic hires in core businesses”. For example, UBS said last November that it intends to hire 24 senior M&A bankers (although it plans to pay them less than average.)
In fact, UBS has some leeway. Its redundancies are less behind schedule than they seem. With 17 quarters to make 10,000 job cuts between the end of 2012 and the start of 2017, UBS needs to remove 588 people every three months. So far, it’s averaged 708. That’s not bad going for a bank that’s hiring along the way.