1. Newsroom
  2. UBP is ready for all Brexit eventualities
Menu
UBP in the press 26.03.2019

UBP is ready for all Brexit eventualities

UBP is ready for all Brexit eventualities

AWP (25.03.2019) - Union Bancaire Privée (UBP) anticipated the uncertainties surrounding future relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union. By expanding in London with the acquisition of ACPI and maintaining a strong presence in Luxembourg, the Geneva bank is prepared for any outcome, as its CEO Guy de Picciotto explained to AWP.


With UBP having just expanded in London, are you concerned about Brexit, which to date is due on 12 April?

I don't believe financial activities in London will be fundamentally affected. The City will remain a choice financial centre for very wealthy people. If the UK keeps hold of its European passport, we will be able to run our activities in Europe out of London. If not, it’ll be out of Luxembourg. We will adapt.

Last year UBP made two acquisitions – ACPI in London and Carnegie in Luxembourg. Are you going to keep up that pace in 2019?

Acquisitions aren't something you plan ahead. However, I do think that the consolidation of the banking sector in Switzerland is coming to an end. Partly because the banks that had to pull out have done so. And partly because financial markets are currently favourable for wealth management and the wave of new regulations has passed. At least until the next one.

Does that mean you're looking to make acquisitions abroad?

Not necessarily. We had been wanting to grow our footprint in London for a while. In ACPI we found an investment management company that met all our criteria. As regards Carnegie in Luxembourg, it was more an opportunity to grow in a financial centre that is going to play an increasingly important role as a European hub, and Switzerland has yet to obtain access to that market.

Was the Carnegie acquisition a contingency plan in case of a hard Brexit?

No, it was a way of strengthening our European hub in Luxembourg. But both London and Luxembourg are indeed contingency plans in case Switzerland does not gain access to the European market.

Do you see any further acquisition opportunities in the current context?

There are always openings. We go through each case and consider it if we find the candidate complements us well. We focus particularly on deals of between 5 and 30 billion in assets, depending on the location. So the scope is broad. I would like to make an acquisition in Asia but there are very few opportunities there.

Why is that?

The local players are well established and are developing their businesses. Some foreign groups left Singapore and Hong Kong but at the time we were busy integrating the Coutts teams and clients (acquired in 2016). We did not take those opportunities, but they were also perhaps a little too expensive.

What resources do you have for such transactions?

We have a lot of capital, easily enough to pay the goodwill (added value in an acquisition) if we were taking over clients or a company. We also have the capacity to perform an IT integration fast, which is a clear advantage.

Have you adjusted your strategy since the stock market turmoil last December?

There wasn’t just the fall in December, which was surprising and unpredictable. The downturn started in September and at the time we cut back risk by gradually reducing our portfolio allocation to equities. However, it would be very difficult not to invest in equity markets given that they have been posting 10% performances since January. If we don't make those returns now, I don’t know when we will.

Going back to Asia, you were recently granted a wholesale licence in Singapore. Does that market have high potential?

To me Hong Kong and Singapore go together. They are two hubs on a continent which is undoubtedly where most of the world’s wealth is being created, and where China has the appeal that the US had a few years ago. Asia is undeniably the continent of the future.

When you bought Coutts, you were managing CHF 8 billion in assets in Asia. How much is it now?

We have a total of CHF 23 billion in private and institutional clients’ assets under management in Asia. Private banking now accounts for over CHF 15 billion. As a new pure player there, we were able to attract top teams to strengthen our existing workforce and that has enabled us to substantially broaden our footprint in the region.

The Middle East is also one of your priorities. How much in assets do you manage there?

We do not give out details by market, but the region is our second- or third-fastest growing market. We recruited seven new staff at our Dubai office at the end of last year.

What is the outlook for 2019?

Market volatility and the rebound in January and February meant clients took profits at the start of this year, but I expect a slowdown in the coming months. The big investments we made in 2018 should pay off this year. As for our budget, it's in line with last year’s.

Read the article
Expertise

Impact investing - Contributing to a more sustainable future

What are the key features of impact investing?

Read more

Most read

UBP in the press 13.02.2020

Are all batteries created equal?

Environmental finance (02.2020) - Electric vehicles (EVs) have an important contribution to make towards a zero-carbon future and therefore are suitable for inclusion in a positive impact investment strategy.

UBP in the press 17.04.2020

Smug Money podcast: Is impact investing the answer?

Good With Money (25.03.2020) – Our Co-Manager of the Positive Impact Equity strategy Rupert Welchman discusses the importance of impact investing in the current environment.

UBP in the press 03.03.2020

Discretionary management expertise moves centre-stage

Le Temps (02.03.2020) - Institutional and discretionary asset managers are increasingly using the same decision-making tools and investment techniques.

Further reading

UBP in the press 03.08.2020

The dawn of the hedge fund era

Le Temps (03.08.2020) - In the past ten years, hedge funds have struggled to offer any kind of satisfactory returns, constrained by persistently weak interest rates and a lack of volatility.

UBP in the press 24.07.2020

The Covid-19 shock: has your family office proven to be resilient?

Arabian Business (12.07.2020) - As we slowly come to terms with the initial effects of the Covid-19 crisis, it is time to see what wealthy families and single-family offices in the Middle East can learn from it.

UBP in the press 14.07.2020

How impact investing can help EM attain the UN SDGs

ESG Clarity (09.07.2020) - Impact investing is a relatively new trend in emerging markets. These countries show enormous room for improvement, both socially and environmentally, and this could well mean greater opportunities for impact investors than in developed countries.