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UBS: Zeltner's zeal for private banking

UBS’s wealth management chief used a crisis to reinvent the bank’s core business. Even competitors admit that he also took the whole industry in a better direction.

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When Jürg Zeltner started at UBS, the bank was seen as a local Swiss firm. Now UBS Wealth Management has more than $2 trillion in assets globally and a presence in more than 50 countries.  “It’s funny to think that when I started in this industry 30 years ago there were 3.5 billion people on the planet, now we’re rocketing towards 9 billion,” says Zeltner, now 48. “Back then, the huge growth in Asia had yet to really begin. I feel like I have experienced globalization personally and, over the course of my career, witnessed the largest wealth creation ever.”

Zeltner is smart and extremely likeable. It is rare to meet someone so self-effacing within the senior echelons of the financial services industry, but he is just that. His peers describe him as a selfless leader. “Some people pretend to be humble, but for Jürg it is just his nature,” says one consultant. “It is never about Jürg. He is always focused on the other person, listening to them and asking questions, trying to learn.”

It is also very clear that he cares deeply about his clients.

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