UBS is one of the world's biggest financial services companies, offering traditional retail banking in its home country of Switzerland as well as a substantial global wealth management business and investment banking services in the US and other major markets. However UBS's reputation as well as its financial stability was badly tarnished by the 2008 credit crunch, then by allegations that it had not only helped US customers to conceal their assets but also inadvertently assisted in the Madoff fraud scandal. In 2011 it suffered a new blow when a rogue trader ran up losses of more than $2bn in unauthorised trading. That revelation prompted the departure of several senior managers including CEO Oswald Gruebel. He was replaced by Sergio Ermotti, who led the bank for the next decade until stepping down in 2020. His successor is Ralph Hamers. Another dent was the first of a series of fines levied on UBS and other banks in connection with manipulation of inter-bank interest rates and other malpractice issues. UBS has also been pursued by regulators in several countries for helping wealthy clients to hide income from tax authorities. A French court fined the bank €3.7bn in 2019 following a lengthy investigation. Operating income for 2020 was $32.4bn in 2020 (the group now reports in US$), with net profit of $6.6bn. Wealth management accounts for a little over half the group's total revenues. It is the world's biggest and most global private bank, with a significant presence in all major markets, well ahead of US rivals Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley by both assets under management and international footprint. Although it traces its roots back to the 1860s, the current business was formed primarily from the merger in 1998 of Union Bank of Switzerland and Swiss Bank Corporation, then the country's #1 and #3 banks. Its investment banking operations were built around Philips & Drew and SG Warburg in the UK and Paine Webber of the US, acquired during the 1980s and 1990s.
Capsule checked 19th June 2020
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Adbrands Social Media 18th Sep 2018: "SwissSkills: Forester". Can it really be true? An ad in which bankers actually make fun of themselves? The Swiss outpost of Publicis has launched a new campaign for the country's biggest bank UBS designed to show that bankers can (sometimes) be good at banking, but probably aren't so good at a lot of other important jobs. It's designed to promote UBS's industrial apprenticeship programme SwissSkills.
Adbrands Weekly Update 21st May 2015: A group of British, American and Swiss banks were hit with another set of massive fines associated with exchange rate rigging. This is in addition to the separate investigation into manipulation of the Libor interbank rate, which has already resulted in other fines. In this latest development, regulators in the US and UK issued penalties totalling $5.6bn to Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and UBS. It is the biggest single banking settlement to-date, bringing the total fine for forex rigging for these banks to over $10bn. Libor accounted for an additional $9bn in fines. Barclays, which has not taken part in previous settlements, was handed the largest penalty of almost $2.4bn, but that's only slightly higher than the total $2.3bn that Citi has been fined in the two separate deals. JP Morgan's combined fine totals $1.9bn. "These unprecedented figures appropriately reflect the conspiracy’s breathtaking flagrancy, its systemic reach and its significant impact," said US Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Over the past two years, the world's biggest banks have paid out more than $60bn in penalties for a catalogue of wrongdoings.
Adbrands Weekly Update 13th Nov 2014: Six banks agreed to pay a combined record fine of $4.3bn to regulators in the US, UK and Switzerland to settle allegations that they rigged key foreign exchange benchmarks between 2007 and October 2013. This case is entirely separate from the earlier Libor rate scandal, which has already amassed penalties of $6bn. Indeed the size of the new fines is in large part prompted by clear evidence that, despite the Libor case, the banks have not yet acted strongly enough to rein in what the UK's FCA said was still a "free-for-all culture on their trading floors". JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup will each pay a total of $1bn, while the UK's RBS and HSBC were fined $634m and $618m respectively. UBS will pay $799m and Bank of America $250m. Negotiations are still underway with Barclays. Several other banks, including Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Standard Chartered and BNP Paribas, were cleared of any involvement.
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