UBS names new head of $1.6 trillion asset management business

By John Revill

ZURICH (Reuters) -UBS has appointed insider Aleksandar Ivanovic as the new head of its $1.6 trillion asset management business as the Swiss bank pushes ahead with the integration of Credit Suisse.

UBS bought Credit Suisse for about 3 billion Swiss francs ($3.46 billion) in a rescue deal last year and the integration process is a multi-year task involving thousands of job losses.

Combining the two banks will create a financial institution with a balance sheet around double the size of the Swiss economy.

Ivanovic, who takes over in March from Suni Harford after she retires, will be running a key UBS division but one that is much smaller than its wealth management business, which generated 50% of UBS’s revenues in the third quarter of 2023.

Asset Management generated 6.5% of UBS’s revenues in that quarter.

Analysts said Ivanovic, who joined UBS in 1992 and has worked across the bank as well as at Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley, would need to help asset management carve out a stronger role in the wider group as the rise of passive investing squeezes fee income.

UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti said on Wednesday Ivanovic’s extensive experience and broad network across the bank made him “the ideal person to build on our strong foundation and progress our integration plans.”

“Wealth management is the star performer, along with the universal bank, while asset management has struggled to carve out its role,” said Michael Klien, banking analyst at Zuercher Kantonalbank, noting that Ivanovic would have to decide whether to keep all of the unit’s businesses.

“It’s a big job, but he has a strong reputation in the bank,” Klien said.

UBS will also start lining up a successor to Ermotti, after he said he would stay at the helm until the end of 2026.

Wealth management chief Iqbal Khan is seen as his most likely internal successor, according to media speculation.

Bank Vontobel analyst Andreas Venditti said competition for the CEO job would be tough and noted asset management’s relatively small role in the group.

“Leaders of the bigger divisions have likely a big advantage,” said Venditti, referring to potential candidates for the CEO role.

UBS Chairman Colm Kelleher said in November he would like to examine a shortlist of three internal candidates within the next couple of years, aiming for a smooth transition like at his former employer Morgan Stanley.

In other board-level changes, UBS said Beatriz Martin Jimenez would become the Lead for Sustainability and Impact on the global executive board in addition to her existing responsibilities.

Jimenez, who joined UBS in 2012, has held key business and finance roles including Investment Bank Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer, Group Treasurer, and Group Head Transformation, said UBS.

The changes will take effect from March 1.

(Reporting by John Revill; editing by Miranda Murray, Kim Coghill, Tommy Wilkes and Jane Merriman)