UBS: Hamers’ time
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UBS: Hamers’ time

Despite Covid, it was a good year for UBS and its outgoing chief executive Sergio Ermotti. Now it’s time for his successor Ralph Hamers to show his hand.

Ralph Hamers
Ralph Hamers, CEO of UBS

When Sergio Ermotti exited UBS’s newly refurbished headquarters on Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse for the last time on November 1, he left his employer in fine shape. The Swiss lender has had a startlingly good year.

UBS’s profit rose 99.5% year on year to $2.1 billion in the three months to the end of September 2020 – the best third-quarter performance in a decade. Through the first nine months, profits rose 37.4% on an annualized basis to $4.92 billion.

There were relatively favourable conditions for UBS. Although Switzerland’s economy probably shrank by around 5% in 2020, the rest of Western Europe fared far worse.

But UBS profited this year in part because what it does well – notably wealth management – is well suited to these kinds of big systemic shocks.

Its global wealth management division posted a pre-tax profit of $1.06 billion in the third quarter, up 18% year on year. That’s the best third-quarter data since 2011, driven by record figures from Asia and the Americas.

Why?

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