UBS Plans More Cuts for 2009

UBS announced at its annual general meeting that the firm will slash more than 11% of its workforce, but it’s not yet clear what that means for financial advisers.

TheWall Street Journal reported that the layoffs are aimed primarily at back-office and middle-office areas such as IT, “though employees with client contact also won’t be spared.’

In addition to staffing cuts, UBS also wants to scale back marketing, sponsorship, consultants, and some of its employee perks, The WSJ reported.

UBS expects to reduce the number of its employees to about 67,500 in 2010, according to a news release about the meeting in Switzerland. At the end of March, UBS employed 76,200 people in over 50 countries.

Group CEO Oswald Grübel said UBS will report a loss attributable to shareholders of almost CHF 2 billion in first quarter 2009, according to the release. However, he said, thanks to a further reduction of its balance sheet and risk-weighted assets, UBS, expects to have a tier 1 capital ratio of roughly 10% at the end of March 2009.

Nevertheless, in order to adapt its size to the changed market conditions and lower levels of business, UBS is planning cost savings by the end of 2010 of approximately CHF 3.5 to 4 billion compared to 2008 levels, he said.

Grübel said UBS will maintain its core business—international wealth management and the Swiss banking business—alongside its global expertise in investment banking and asset management, and will exit high-risk and unpromising businesses.

The bank is currently conducting a review to make clear decisions about which businesses it will remain active in and grow, and which it will exit, he said.

Last week, UBS announced its plans to lay off lower-producing advisers, and last month the bank announced it would sell off some of its wealth-management branches (see “Stifel Nicolaus to Acquire up to 55 Branches from UBS“). Reports have speculated that UBS has tried unsuccessfully to sell of its U.S. wealth management business (see “UBS To Let Go Lower Producers).

The full speeches given at the meeting are available at