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UBS Weighs Elevating Khan to Sole Wealth Management Head

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UBS Group AG is considering a plan to promote Iqbal Khan to sole head of the bank’s global wealth management business, potentially setting him up as an eventual successor to Chief Executive Officer Ralph Hamers.

Tom Naratil, who co-leads the private banking business with Khan, may keep his regional role as the head of UBS’s business in the Americas, people with knowledge of the deliberations said. No final decisions have been made and the plans could still change, they said.

It’s also unclear whether Naratil would remain on the bank’s 12-member executive board as part of the changes, the people said. UBS declined to comment.

After surpassing the $3 trillion mark in assets under management, the Swiss lender under Hamers is counting on greater use of digital technology to boost cost savings and increase business with the world’s wealthy.

UBS bought robo-wealth adviser Wealthfront in the US and has launched several mobile applications in Europe and Asia, seeking to encourage clients to engage with the bank for investment opportunities in the same way they browse Netflix for movies.

The bank is focusing on expansion in the US and Asia as wealth pools continue to grow. Hamers said in May that UBS was “as much of a U.S. player as we are a Swiss player” and the bank could “absolutely” compete with Wall Street titans on advising the rich.

For Khan, 46, the elevation to solely leading the bank’s biggest unit would be a decisive internal move positioning him to potentially take over from Hamers in the future, though any change could still be far off since the Dutch executive has only been in charge about two years.

Khan jumped to UBS in 2019 from Credit Suisse Group AG, where he ran the international wealth management division.

Khan was given the regional leadership role for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa at UBS in 2021, and has otherwise focused on extending the bank’s loan book with wealthy clients, hiring key managers such as Remi Mennesson from his old firm to build out areas including structured products and private investments.

A chart about UBS wealth management entitled Lending Turbocharged, showing executive Iqbal Khan's arrival in 2019 helped increase loans and net interest income at UBS through 2022.

UBS increased new loans to its wealthy clients to more than $25 billion per year, surpassing a target Khan set out when he first joined and turbo-charging the bank’s net interest income. The business of lending to clients in the wealth division to finance their trading and investing activities earns the Zurich-based bank significant fees.

More recently, Khan, Naratil and investment bank head Rob Karofsky restructured the unit that deals with its wealthiest clients, folding it into a newly-formed larger business within the investment bank and removing Joe Stadler, the unit’s long-time head.

Naratil, 60, started his career in 1983 at Paine Webber, which was acquired by UBS in 2000. He spent several years as the bank’s chief financial officer and chief operating officer in Zurich before returning to New York to run the US wealth business in 2016.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

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