UBS axes some roles for private bankers in S'pore, HK

SINGAPORE • UBS Group has cut a handful of private bankers from operations in Singapore and Hong Kong in recent weeks, including a senior post catering to the super-rich in South-east Asia, two people familiar with the matter said.

The bankers who have left include Mr Joseph Poon, head of UBS Wealth Management's ultra-high net worth for South-east Asia, one of the people said, adding that the cuts were part of "normal adjustments".

That particular role has also been cut, the person said. Reuters could not reach Mr Poon for comment.

UBS sought to reassure investors with details of cost and job cuts earlier this month after reporting weaker earnings and capital, though inflows at its private banking businesses were robust.

UBS, the biggest wealth manager by assets in Asia, remains a"net hirer" in the region and has been adding people strategically depending on business needs, the sources said, declining to be identified as the matter was not public. A UBS spokesman in Singapore declined to comment.

Earlier this year, UBS hired former Citigroup investment banker Tracey Woon as its vice- chairman for wealth management Asia.

Other private banks such as JPMorgan Chase have also cut private bankers in Asia this year.

JPMorgan cut 30 jobs, or 5 per cent of headcount, at its Asia wealth management business, a source told Reuters last month, as the US bank sharpens its focus on tapping wealthier clients.

UBS is the largest private bank in the Asia-Pacific in terms of assets managed. It has over 2,800 employees in the wealth management division, the most for any private bank in the region.

In the first quarter of this year, UBS Wealth Management Asia Pacific had total invested assets of 266 billion Swiss francs (S$371 billion), with 8.8 billion francs in net new money, its highest quarterly inflow since 2008.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2016, with the headline 'UBS axes some roles for private bankers in S'pore, HK'. Print Edition | Subscribe