(Bloomberg) -- UBS is expanding its wealth management business in Asia and emerging markets by hiring client advisors, Juerg Zeltner, who heads the division globally excluding the U.S. and Canada, said in an interview.

“I would say 70 plus percent of my net investment is going into Asia and the emerging markets,” Zeltner said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Davos, Switzerland today. “For us at UBS, Asia is the number one growth opportunity.”

UBS, the largest Swiss bank, hired 88 advisors this year to service rich Asian clients after assets at its wealth-management business in the region jumped 38 percent in the past two years. The expansion in Asia and in emerging markets contrasts with the situation in Europe, where UBS is seeing a contraction in the market, Zeltner said.

Expansion in emerging markets “is sort of half the pace of what we see in Asia,” Zeltner said, adding that countries such as Brazil and Mexico are at the forefront of that growth.

UBS added 45 client advisors in Asia and 20 in the emerging markets in 2013, bringing the totals in those regions to 1,032 and 688 people, respectively. In Europe including Switzerland, the bank had 21 fewer client advisors at the end of 2013 than a year earlier, according to data in UBS’s annual reports.

UBS’s advisory clients in wealth management still hold “nearly 30 percent” in cash and are reluctant to invest, Zeltner said.

“It’s still a risk-off environment, maybe risk neutral,” he said. “We haven’t seen a big shift yet.”

The dispute between Russia and Ukraine has increased uncertainty in the markets, though Zeltner said he doesn’t expect an escalation.

“I hope time will give the political establishment the right room for having a dialogue and then things will smooth out,” Zeltner said.

Read more:

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Financial Planning content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access