UBS said to be cutting asset-management jobs amid China pivot

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UBS is cutting jobs at its asset-management unit as it focuses on growth in China and passive and sustainable investing, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The smallest of UBS’s operating divisions is said to have eliminated at least 100 positions in areas including distribution over recent months, according to one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the cuts haven’t been publicly announced.
About 30 of the cuts were in the U.S., with many in New York, two of the people said. The unit had 2,361 employees at the end of March, according to UBS filings.

"We don’t comment on adjustments that we make over time and are focused on serving the needs of our clients, growing our business and improving efficiency,” UBS spokeswoman Sheryl Lee said by email.

The unit’s chief, Ulrich Koerner, has been overhauling the unit since 2014, disposing of assets, reviewing its offerings and pushing into passive-strategy products, which now account for about 305 billion francs ($310 billion), nearly 40% of assets managed. While the focus on passively managed investments helped the unit reverse asset outflows, it took a toll on margins. The business missed profit forecasts in the first quarter after lowering its mid-term profit target earlier this year, and also posted the highest cost-to-income ratio among all divisions.

Growth in Asia has also been a particular focus for Koerner. Last year the bank secured a private funds license in China, allowing the investment unit to start managing money for mainland institutional and high-net-worth investors in Asia’s largest economy.

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