Interview with Sergio Pietro Ermotti

Group Chief Executive Officer UBS

Given the major structural problems that remain unresolved, especially in Europe, some economists' forecasts strike me as being too optimistic.

Financial institutions are in the process of analysing their structures, processes and services. They want to understand what their core competencies actually are, as well as which elements lead to differentiation in the marketplace and help them to achieve gains in efficiency and effectiveness.

We’re looking at what we can outsource and what we should keep or even bring back in house. We're also evaluating our offshore and onshore activities. We’re assessing where businesses have to be based and where competence centres belong in the organisation. Not so long ago, thought processes like these were considered taboo.

Technological developments have had a major effect on the banking sector. But in the wealth management field, where we’re chiefly active, technology is a poor substitute for a close, personal client/advisor relationship.

Whatever you do today, you have to keep in mind how it could be viewed in five years’ time. It’s no longer just a matter of what is the right or wrong thing to do on any given day.

At the end of the day, no entrepreneur’s top priority is to be loved: we just need to be respected. So we have to win over as many people as possible and reduce the number of critics.

It's paramount that we earn sustainable profits. From these we pay taxes to the government and dividends to our shareholders, who in turn pay their own taxes. Ultimately, it’s the clients and shareholders who take the philanthropic initiative. It's not our job to assume state functions or make investments that our shareholders and clients can decide for themselves.

I want to be the person who led UBS out of a difficult period and into a new era of success. Only time will tell what I’ve accomplished. UBS was stabilised between 2009 and 2011. Now we’re in the process of giving our firm a new direction, making the best possible use of our strengths and limiting or even eliminating our weaknesses.

Sergio P. Ermotti was appointed Group Chief Executive Officer of UBS in November 2011, having held the position of Group Chief Executive Officer on an interim basis since September 2011. Mr. Ermotti became a member of the Group Executive Board in April 2011 and was Chairman and CEO of UBS Group Europe, Middle East and Africa from April to November 2011. From 2007 to 2010 he was Group Deputy Chief Executive Officer at UniCredit, Milan, and was responsible for the strategic business areas of Corporate and Investment Banking, and Private Banking. He joined UniCredit in 2005 as Head of Markets & Investment Banking Division. Between 2001 and 2003 he worked at Merrill Lynch, serving as co-Head of Global Equity Markets and as a member of the Executive Management Committee for Global Markets & Investment Banking. He began his career with Merrill Lynch in 1987, and held various positions within equity derivatives and capital markets. Mr. Ermotti is a Swiss-certified banking expert and is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at Oxford University. He was born on 11 May 1960 and is a Swiss citizen.

These interviews contain the opinions and views of the CEOs interviewed, and do not necessarily represent the opinions and views of PwC.