UBS posts strong Q1 results for Asia-Pacific

Profit before tax climbs 21% to $1.2b; assets under management rise 40% to $1 trillion

Swiss bank UBS has moved into its new office (above) at 9 Penang Road that hosts its first global cyber-fusion centre (left), and accommodates the bank's 3,000 or so staff across 400,000 sq ft (top).
Swiss bank UBS has moved into its new office (above) at 9 Penang Road that hosts its first global cyber-fusion centre, and accommodates the bank's 3,000 or so staff across 400,000 sq ft.ST PHOTO: YONG LI XUAN
Swiss bank UBS has moved into its new office (above) at 9 Penang Road that hosts its first global cyber-fusion centre (left), and accommodates the bank's 3,000 or so staff across 400,000 sq ft (top).
Swiss bank UBS has moved into its new office at 9 Penang Road that hosts its first global cyber-fusion centre (above), and accommodates the bank's 3,000 or so staff across 400,000 sq ft. ST PHOTO: YONG LI XUAN
Swiss bank UBS has moved into its new office (above) at 9 Penang Road that hosts its first global cyber-fusion centre (left), and accommodates the bank's 3,000 or so staff across 400,000 sq ft (top).
Swiss bank UBS has moved into its new office at 9 Penang Road that hosts its first global cyber-fusion centre, and accommodates the bank's 3,000 or so staff across 400,000 sq ft (above). ST PHOTO: YONG LI XUAN

Swiss bank UBS' Asia-Pacific business achieved its best-ever quarterly wealth management performance in the first three months of the year.

UBS announced the results yesterday as it officially moved into its new office at 9 Penang Road - the bank's largest centre in the region.

Profit before tax for its Asia-Pacific arm rose 21 per cent year on year to US$900 million (S$1.2 billion) for the three months to March 30.

Assets under management reached an all-time high of US$761 billion (S$1 trillion), up 40 per cent year on year, while invested assets under the global wealth management unit jumped 42 per cent to US$576 billion.

Asia-Pacific president Edmund Koh said: "Asia-Pacific started off the year at a record pace, achieving the region's best-ever first-quarter performance... on the back of strong markets and higher client activity.

"Asia-Pacific is a key growth area for UBS and today it contributes 37 per cent of the group's profit before tax."

He added that Singapore is one of the bank's top two wealth management centres in the region and the South-east Asian headquarters for the investment bank.

It is also the regional hub for foreign exchange, rates and credit.

The new space near Dhoby Ghaut accommodates the bank's 3,000 or so employees and provides client lounges across 400,000 sq ft.

It also hosts the UBS university campus, which provides areas for clients and staff to take virtual and physical classes, and the bank's first global cyber-fusion centre, a facility that brings together information security technology to mitigate online risks.

An innovation hub with technologies like virtual reality and artificial intelligence to focus on the future economy has been set up as well.

UBS country head of Singapore August Hatecke said that the importance of Singapore is "growing very fast" especially in the past year, with assets here doubling in the past five years.

Mr Koh noted that Hong Kong would roughly have taken 75 cents of each dollar of new assets, while Singapore would have 25 cents. But this balance has shifted to 50-50.

"Within South-east Asia itself, the wealth growth of new companies is actually phenomenal... Singapore benefited from that growth, and not because of issues in Hong Kong," he noted.

Singapore's communication standards, rule of law, cosmopolitan talent pool and trust that the Government has built are factors that make it a hub.

Mr Koh said: "The growth of Singapore as an epicentre for the Asia-Pacific will be very important as it draws its balance as a counterweight across the tension that you will see around the world, whether politically or economically."

Mr Hatecke, who is also co-head of global wealth management for the region, added: "Talent development has always been important to us, as we nurture a future generation of bankers for Singapore."

One of the growth areas here will be in family offices, he added, as wealthy clients come to Singapore and bring their assets along.

Mr Hatecke said: "We definitely have big plans here in (Asia-Pacific) because we see a growing region... We have plans to expand our business and grow our teams."

Mr Koh added that growth in the region will be concentrated in environmental, social and governance topics, as the younger generation displays more awareness of such issues.

Other areas for growth include the new economy, with innovative companies like Grab, Sea and Tokopedia, he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2021, with the headline 'UBS posts strong Q1 results for Asia-Pacific'. Subscribe