Union Bancaire Privée (UBP) is one of the largest family-owned private banks in the world. But what makes UBP really unique is its corporate culture, which combines modernity and tradition. Although UBP was founded in 1969, its origins can be traced back to the 17th century and the start of a long line of financiers and diplomats of whom Edgar de Picciotto and his descendants are the successors. Today, the Bank's staff draw their inspiration and drive from the founding family's subtle blend of strong moral values and pragmatism, which to this day remain the key to UBP’s success.
Since its origins in Portugal during the Age of Discovery, the de Picciotto family has been honing its skills in both diplomacy and trade over ten generations. This long line of successful merchants and high-profile consuls is represented today by the family bank, which was founded by Edgar de Picciotto in 1969.
Business acumen and the art of diplomacy are the two assets on which the de Picciotto family built its success. This valuable legacy laid the foundations for Edgar de Picciotto’s strong network and ambitious goals..
In 1954, after his studies, Edgar de Picciotto settled in Switzerland. His father-in-law, a shareholder in several banks in Geneva, encouraged him to take a closer interest in the world of finance and organised internships for him at some investment houses in the city, which confirmed his remarkably sharp business acumen. In the City of London and the United States, he discovered the growth model of mergers and acquisitions and drew inspiration from it. In 1956, he joined Société Bancaire de Genève and started on a career path dedicated to wealth management – a path he would never leave.
Having been introduced to the world of finance by his father-in-law, Edgar de Picciotto quickly showed an innate talent for business and outstanding financial engineering skills.
Edgar de Picciotto was determined to found his own bank and in 1969 he created Compagnie de Banque et d’Inves-tissements (CBI). It is an interesting footnote to this history that the name “Union Bancaire Privée (UBP)” that he wanted to give to his bank was refused by the commercial registry, which deemed it too grandiose for a young company with a capitalisation of just CHF 8 million. However, the determined young entrepreneur would have his way eventually. At the end of the first financial year, the results were in: substantial earnings and twenty people working alongside him. In just half a century, the Bank – which would finally take the name UBP in 1990 – has never stopped growing and is now a highly respected institution. Having crossed the threshold of CHF 100 billion in assets under management, and with close to 1,500 members of staff spread out across the globe, UBP has achieved more in its five decades of existence than many banks who were founded centuries before
From the outset, Edgar de Picciotto knew that the Bank had to reach critical mass and two options were open to him: organic growth or a large-scale acquisition. The rest is history. Following an initial string of smaller acquisitions, the Bank quadrupled in size with the takeover of American Express Bank in 1990. At the time, this CHF 1.2 billion deal was the biggest bank merger ever in Switzerland. To date, the Bank has made sixteen acquisitions in total, including several major deals: DBTC in 2002, ABN AMRO in 2011, Lloyds Private Banking in 2013 and Coutts International in 2015, opening the door to Asia.