UBS promotes Khan to steer wealth management

Published 07/12/2022, 04:44 PM
Updated 07/13/2022, 05:10 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen at its headquarters, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Zurich, Switzerland February 17, 2021. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Elizabeth Dilts Marshall

NEW YORK (Reuters) -UBS, the world's biggest wealth manager, on Tuesday named Iqbal Khan the sole head of the Swiss bank's global wealth management division in an executive board reshuffle.

Khan, who joined Switzerland's biggest bank in 2019 to co-head its flagship division, will take over when co-president Tom Naratil steps down in October after decades with the bank.

Naureen Hassan, the second-ranking officer at the New York Federal Reserve, replaces Naratil in his second role as president of UBS Americas, the bank said in a statement.

Under Chief Executive Ralph Hamers, UBS has sought to leverage technology and integrate fintech acquisitions to boost revenues, expand its client base and cut costs.

"Our Global Wealth Management business and our Americas region are strategically important, and both offer significant growth opportunities for us," Hamers said in a statement.

Khan previously led smaller rival Credit Suisse's international wealth management division. Khan was thrust into the spotlight after leaving Credit Suisse when he confronted a private detective who was following him and his wife.

That incident prompted a criminal complaint, multiple sackings and enforcement proceedings against Credit Suisse, where further spying cases emerged, prompting the CEO to quit.

Khan has kept a relatively low public profile since the spying incident, but sources familiar with UBS say he is popular with employees and clients and could be a CEO candidate.

When Khan joined UBS, it was seen as a bid to help the bank cope with sluggish activity among wealthy clients, ultra-low interest rates and increased competition from U.S. rivals.

Under Khan and Naratil, UBS overhauled its wealth management business by cutting layers of middle management to give local teams more autonomy, expanding lending to ultra-wealthy clients and bulking up its digital offerings to attract more clients.

In 2021, UBS spent $1.4 billion to buy U.S.-focused digital investing platform Wealthfront, which has more than $27 billion under management. It also rolled out a hybrid digital wealth management platform.

The wealth management division's pre-tax profits were up 40% in 2021 compared with 2019. Since Khan joined, the division has brought in more than $50 billion in net new loans and more than $150 billion in fresh fee-generating client inflows.

UBS overall has delivered strong results in recent years, booking its best annual profit since the global financial crisis in 2021 and its best first-quarter net profit in 15 years at the start of 2022.

But inflation, rising interest rates, commodity shocks and the Ukraine war have hit financial markets and prompted many investors to become more risk averse and retreat from borrowing.

UBS is set to report second-quarter results on July 26.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen at its headquarters, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Zurich, Switzerland February 17, 2021. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Hassan, who will join the bank's executive ranks in October, served as first vice president and chief operating officer at the New York Fed. She has also worked at Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS).

Naratil, who has been with UBS since it acquired U.S. brokerage Paine Webber in 2000, joined the executive board as chief financial officer in 2011 and then became chief operating officer. He headed wealth management in the Americas from 2016.

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