Ex-SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek to join UBS

UBS said Mr Desmond Kuek’s wealth of experience as an executive, government official and board member “will be of great value in strengthening our relationships with existing clients, forging new ones and growing our business across the Asia-Paci
UBS said Mr Desmond Kuek’s wealth of experience as an executive, government official and board member “will be of great value in strengthening our relationships with existing clients, forging new ones and growing our business across the Asia-Pacific”.PHOTO: UBS

He will be divisional vice-chairman for global wealth management and will be based in S'pore

Former SMRT chief executive Desmond Kuek, who left his job at the transport operator last August, is joining Swiss investment bank UBS as its divisional vice-chairman for global wealth management.

The bank said in a statement yesterday that Mr Kuek, 55, will start work on Feb 18, and be based in Singapore. He will report to UBS' head of ultra-high net worth business, Mr Joe Stadler, and Asia-Pacific president Edmund Koh.

Mr Koh said he is happy to be working with Mr Kuek, whom he said can handle pressure well.

"He is tenacious, always calm under pressure and not afraid to take on the toughest challenges with commitment and perseverance.

"His rich and diverse range of experiences driving complex businesses through innovation and transformation will serve UBS well into its next chapter," he said.

UBS, in response to queries, said it divisional vice-chairmen support the global wealth management leadership in client relationship development, among other things.

They also work closely with client advisers to generate new ideas in engaging clients further.

Mr Kuek, who was president and group chief executive at SMRT Corporation from 2012 to 2018, helped steer the rail operator back to reliability, but the task was marred by accidents and incidents such as tunnel flooding.

He oversaw its delisting from the Singapore Exchange in 2016 and the operator's migration to a new financial framework.

The former army general was chief of Defence Force from 2007 to 2010, and was permanent secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources before moving to SMRT.

He has been on the boards of Singapore Technologies Engineering, Defence Science and Technology Agency, Housing and Development Board, Jurong Town Corporation, International Enterprise Singapore and the Civil Service College.

He also founded and chairs leadership consultancy Genium & Co, which was registered last July.

UBS said Mr Kuek's wealth of experience as an executive, government official and board member "will be of great value in strengthening our relationships with existing clients, forging new ones and growing our business across the Asia-Pacific".

Mr Kuek said in the statement: "I'm looking forward to starting on this exciting new role with the incredible team at UBS."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 05, 2019, with the headline 'Ex-SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek to join UBS'. Print Edition | Subscribe