October 15, 2008 / 6:37 AM / 11 years ago

UBS says crisis vindicates own bank model

GENEVA (Reuters) - Switzerland’s UBS UBSN.VX, the world’s largest wealth manager, said its advice-driven, global banking business model will be a winner as others failed or were rescued by governments during the global financial turmoil.

Juergen Zeltner, Head of Wealth Management North, East & Central Europe at UBS gestures during an interview at the Reuters Wealth Management Summit in Geneva October 15, 2008. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse (SWITZERLAND)

UBS was hit early on in the crisis and has announced more write-downs on toxic assets than any other European bank.

“It’s never been more obvious to clients that they need advice. This is going to be the proof to our business model,” Juergen Zeltner, who heads UBS’ wealth management operations in North, Central and Eastern Europe, told the Reuters Wealth Management Summit.

UBS has not given up on investment banking despite huge losses on the business and instead has divided its operations into three separate divisions — wealth management, investment banking and asset management — to boost transparency.

Banks which heavily relied on investment banking revenues, such as Lehman Brothers, have either gone bust or needed rescues via forced mergers or government aid.

“I strongly feel that the transparency that we put in place was well appreciated,” Zeltner said.

Still, Zeltner said the damage to UBS’ reputation from the huge losses in its investment banking division was obvious and had resulted in client outflows. The bank will report third quarter results on November 4.

“We lost trust. We do know that there was substantial damage and that will take years to rebuild,” he said.

UBS recapitalized itself earlier than any other bank, before the deepening of the crisis in September, and is now in a position to exploit opportunities in markets where other players have failed, such as the United States, he said.

“The crisis gives us unique opportunities in the United States,” Zeltner said.

“We want to grow and build market share.”

(For the summit blog: summitnotebook.reuters.com/)

Reporting by Lisa Jucca; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter

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