Karl Schweizer
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Karl Schweizer

Managing director, art and numismatics services, UBS

In the number-crunching world of financial services, an appreciation of art is rarely useful. This is not the case, though, in the Basle office of UBS, where it is essential in the art banking and numismatics department.

The team advises on both banking and art, and UBS has been active in it for more than 30 years. In 1997, Karl Schweizer became head of the department with a brief to restructure it.

Schweizer started out as a lawyer, writing a doctoral thesis on investment banking and capital markets. Then, at SBC, he worked in legal counsel and escrow. He later helped set up a regional brokerage for northern and central Switzerland, before starting businesses for financial planning, trusts, and retirement planning.

With that background, in 1997 he received an offer to set up an art banking operation and when SBC merged with Union Bank of Switzerland to form UBS, the new firm kept the department. "Before the merger I was offered the chance to a build a new sector in the field of art for our wealthiest private-banking clients," Schweizer recalls.

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