UBS to Cut 3,500 Jobs; Wealth Unit Losing 350

Overall reductions will be more than 5% of global workforce

UBS' New York headquarters. (Photo: AP) UBS' New York headquarters. (Photo: AP)

UBS said Tuesday it planned to cut staff by 3,500, or more than 5% of its global workforce, as part of its overall plan to trim about $2.5 billion from its yearly expenses by the end of 2013 “to improve operating efficiency.” About 10% of the job eliminations, or 350 positions, will take place within the wealth-management operations in the Americas and will affect corporate staff, not advisors, the company says.

“These plans include savings associated with headcount reductions of approximately 3,500, which will be achieved through redundancies as well as natural attrition, and further real estate rationalization,” according to a UBS press release.

UBS says that it will trim some $570 million in costs from its operations worldwide in the second half of 2011 with roughly $507 million related to personnel expenses and the remainder in real estate. The majority of the cuts affect investment banking, though about $170 million will be trimmed for the global wealth-management and Swiss banking operations and close to $30 million from Wealth Management Americas.

When it released its second-quarter earnings results in late July, UBS said it planned to “eliminate costs of 1.5 billion to 2 billion Swiss francs [$1.9 billion to $2.5 billion], while remaining committed to investing in growth areas” over the next two years.

According to data compiled in early August by Bloomberg, more than 100,000 jobs are set to be lost this year in the global banking sector. The 50-largest banks have announced plans to eliminate some 60,000-plus jobs since January.

Late last week, reports circulated that Bank of America was set to eliminate at least 3,500 jobs in the coming months as part of its restructuring efforts. More cuts are expected later this year at Merrill Lynch’s parent company, which fired some 2,500 workers earlier in 2011.

HSBC, which is based in London, said on Aug. 1 that it aimed to shed 30,000 workers.

UBS Personnel

UBS’ wealth-management operations in the United States and Latin America include 6,862 financial advisors as of June 1, up from 6,760 advisors a year ago. The unit is led by Bob McCann, formerly of Merrill Lynch.

The staff headcount at the Americas unit – excluding financial advisors – totals 16,240 vs. 16,341 in June 2010. Thus, after eliminating 350, the total number of staff would be 15,890.

Costs for staff at the New York-based unit were nearly $1.2 billion in the second quarter, which advisors accounting from about $600 million of these expenses. Compensation commitments and advances for recruited advisors in the period were $410 million.

Worldwide, UBS has some 65,700 employees of whom roughly 19,670 are employed at its corporate headquarters. Its non-U.S. wealth-management operations include about 16,100 staff members and 4,200 financial advisors.

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