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UBS eliminates more than 150 jobs to counter market ‘headwinds’

UBS has eliminated more than 150 support jobs globally in recent months, adding to European and U.S. financial services companies dismissing workers to rein in costs, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The Swiss bank cut positions serving the lender’s wealth, asset management and investment banking activities, the people said, asking not to be identified as the matter is private. The majority of cuts are in corporate center positions such as human resources, IT, marketing, and risk departments, they said.

“As we’ve previously said, we are slowing down hiring and delaying replacements to counter market headwinds,” UBS said in a statement. “There is no specific headcount or role reduction program. As any other company, we always have a certain level of attrition."

The UBS Group AG logo sits illuminated on the bank's skyscraper offices at dusk in Frankfurt, Germany, on Tuesday, July 17, 2018. Frankfurt's efforts to attract bankers escaping Brexit are in danger of losing momentum. Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg
The UBS Group AG logo sits illuminated on the bank's skyscraper offices at dusk in Frankfurt, Germany, on Tuesday, July 17, 2018. Frankfurt's efforts to attract bankers escaping Brexit are in danger of losing momentum. Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg

Since culling thousands of investment banking jobs after the financial crisis, Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti has resisted pressure from some investors for large-scale layoffs, opting instead for smaller cuts with less impact on morale. Earlier this year he promised $300 million in additional cost cuts, to be achieved by slowing hiring and the pace of investments, in response to deteriorating markets.

JPMorgan Chase is dismissing hundreds of workers in its asset and wealth-management division after a periodic staffing review, according to a person briefed on the matter. Nomura is embarking on yet another sweeping overhaul of its international business, as it cuts $1 billion of costs and fires dozens of employees.

Cutting back-office costs has been a focus of UBS and its crosstown rival Credit Suisse for years, Switzerland’s biggest banks — competitors in investment banking and wealth management — have previously held early stage talks about combining some back-office functions, according to people with knowledge of the matter last year.

UBS spends around $4 billion, or about one quarter of its wage bill on the corporate centre, which employs more than 30,000 staff.