What is So Bad About UBS?

It seems like UBS is an ongoing joke on this forum for being known as "the worst" of the bulge bracket investment banks but I have always wondered why? I talked to a lawyer at a major M&A law firm and he even he knew how bad their rep is amongst bankers. We talked about different banks and he said "U Be Stupid" had become the unofficial nickname for ubs at his law firm.

Why Does UBS Suck?

UBS doesn't suck. It is a smaller bank that was negatively impacted by the financial crisis. Additionally, the bank is focusing on PWM which effects the prestige level of the bank for people in the industry.

UENYC:

Nothing's wrong with the bank...it's just that the people in this industry are prestigious whores. But relatively speaking, UBS is indeed the smallest of all bulge brackets, which impacts league table ranking and subsequently its reputation amongst people who only care about rankings and whatnot. Nevertheless, UBS is still a bulge bracket that advises on marquee deals in various industries. It also doesn't help some of the well-known bankers have since left the bank. Also the bank's strategy currently revolves around PWM, which is not the sexiest and that also impacts prestige (just like how Merrill Lynch people hate being associated with Bank of America). It's the same psychology with every situation you may be aware of that involves prestige. UBS just happens to be a media scapegoat in a lot of ways. For example, Morgan Stanley is also another bank pushing PWM (does anyone talk about it?).

DoddFrank - Investment Banking Vice President:

UBS probably got the worst of the financial crisis as compared to other banks (other than Lehman and Bear, obviously). Through 2013 there was still a major drag on the business from the crisis (layoffs, senior people defecting, closing business lines, etc.). They went through the pain earlier than some other firms are currently going through (Credit Suisse, DB). Today, as someone else said, the main focus is PWM (less capital need) with non-risk IB functions (M&A) also being core to their strategy.

What is UBS?

UBS is a global bank that has wealth management, asset management, and investment banking arms.

You can read more about UBS on the WSO Company Database.

Read More About UBS on WSO

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Comments (94)

Best Response
Apr 30, 2016

Nothing's wrong with the bank...it's just that the people in this industry are prestigious whores. But relatively speaking, UBS is indeed the smallest of all bulge brackets, which impacts league table ranking and subsequently its reputation amongst people who only care about rankings and whatnot. Nevertheless, UBS is still a bulge bracket that advises on marquee deals in various industries. It also doesn't help some of the well-known bankers have since left the bank (remember when WSO used to jizz over UBS HC team?). Also the bank's strategy currently revolves around PWM, which is not the sexiest and that also impacts prestige (just like how Merrill Lynch people hate being associated with Bank of America). It's the same psychology with every situation you may be aware of that involves prestige. UBS just happens to be a media scapegoat in a lot of ways. For example, Morgan Stanley is also another bank pushing PWM (does anyone talk about it?).

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Apr 30, 2016

Interesting @UENYC , i had heard that they used to have IB in Stamford, Connecticut which contributed to people thinking WTF about UBS. Is this still the case?

Apr 30, 2016

Believe the Stamford office was primarily S&T and is basically closed now.

May 13, 2016

Pretty much only Risk sits in Stamford but they are transitioning even them to Nashville

May 6, 2016

bump

May 6, 2016

Is there something specific you are looking for? UENYC captured it pretty succinctly.

UBS probably got the worst of the financial crisis as compared to other banks (other than Lehman and Bear, obviously). Through 2013 there was still a major drag on the business from the crisis (layoffs, senior people defecting, closing business lines, etc.). They went through the pain earlier than some other firms are currently going through (Credit Suisse, DB). Today, as someone else said, the main focus is PWM (less capital need) with non-risk IB functions (M&A) also being core to their strategy.

Also - IB was never in Stamford. Was mostly S&T as well as back office functions. IB used to be in 299 Park, but UBS consolidated everything into their 1285 Americas Building.

May 6, 2016

Better than Piper Jefferies

May 6, 2016

Or millstein.

May 7, 2016

It only sucks in the US. In Europe its top 4, and asia top 1/2 for international firms.

May 7, 2016

Correction: UBS is top 3 in Asia (alongside GS and MS), but is outside top 10 for any product in the US and in the EMEA, the only product it does well in (top 5) is ECM (and to a lesser extent M&A) - has very little presence in every other product.

UBS's IB franchise got hit very hard during 2012 with all its restructuring which was great for shareholders (in terms of RoE) but did permanently damage its IB origination franchise, especially in the US, where its presence in virtually every product lacks behind even places like RBC, WFC and so on. Main reason is because UBS essentially cut off any sort of debt financing capability and is trying to compete mainly on the basis of M&A and ECM, but guess what - but if that's the case, clients would much prefer to go with GS/MS/Laz.

In the EU, UBS is now basically what Barclays was pre-Lehman (Barclays was a pure DCM-only house back then), except instead of DCM, it's basically a pure-ECM house with a decent (top 10) M&A franchise (currently skewed because of the $48b Syngenta deal but still a decent franchise nevertheless). But other than ECM and maybe M&A, UBS doesn't have much presence in other products.

Btw, I personally don't view UBS's much smaller presence in IB as a bad thing - it has a great RoTE (>10%) whereas even the almighty GS got a measly 6.4% RoTE this Q1 2016. And I've heard the few investment bankers that UBS retains do get paid very well. Overall, much more stable than the other IBs who are going over layoff after layoffs. They just don't fare well in terms of league tables, which everyone likes to fuss over.

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May 13, 2016

UBS has always had a particularly strong advisory platform, particularly as they inherited SG Warburg and Dillon Read through the Swiss Bank and Union Bank merger and then hired a ton of DLJ bankers in the early 00's.

Interesting to note is that three of the elite boutiques (Robey Warshaw, Centerview and Moelis) all have founders/co-founders that held prominent roles at UBS. Although that speaks more to their past capabilities than their current position.

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Jun 1, 2016

This. I'm a recently exited UBS analyst (coverage group). Overall I had a pretty decent experience (bonuses were surprisingly good this year) and you work with smart people, but I did a lot of pitching relative to friends at other banks. It's almost like UBS is trying to function as a hybrid of a BB with strong ECM capabilities while also going after deals that you would typically see done by either BBs that actually lend to clients and are consistently lead-left or EBs. Clients are never thrilled to hear, "We value your business, but not enough to be on the revolver. We've got some great strategic alternatives to show you though!"

It's a bit concerning though that despite all the recent MD hiring in N.A. IBD, UBS is still struggling to land mandates. I wouldn't be shocked at some point in the future to see UBS jettison the IB to CS, WF or someone else and focus exclusively on PWM. In training, they were pretty explicit that UBS is a PWM firm first supported by the IB, not the other way around. On the plus side though, it is nice to know that if shit hits the fan, UBS will most likely be one of the last banks to go belly up. Layoffs did go down recently, but nothing out of the ordinary relative to other banks on the street.

May 7, 2016

Eww UBS; why are we talking about it ~ Aspiring Incoming IBD coffee handler

I think- therefore I fuck

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May 8, 2016

A couple of years ago they were among the top 3 performing in S&T.
http://news.efinancialcareers.com/uk-en/145103/the...

May 8, 2016

Not that bad of a shop. Obviously go somewhere else if you care about prestige/rankings, but in that case you probably need to be asking some harder hitting questions about yourself and what drives you.

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May 8, 2016

It ain't no Goldman Sachs. That's whats wrong

May 8, 2016

Funny, in Australia UBS is the "best" bank. Gets the most deal flow by far.

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May 8, 2016

From what I gather, UBS was a top-tier bank, pre-2008. Then, just before the crisis, many of its IB rainmakers (e.g., Sarkozy and Moelis) left to pursue other opportunities. The crisis came and UBS was hit HARD, resulting in the firm throwing more weight on its PWM business (where it's considered a top firm). Then, in 2012, PWM PR crises followed and the restructuring came. In essence, it was a series of unfortunate events all coming together in succession. That said, UBS is still trying to rebuild itself and has seen positive, incremental change in the right direction.

May 8, 2016

Analysts seem to like UBS just fine considering how 100% of their 2015 IBD interns who were extended offers accepted them.

UBS has just had really bad luck. First they took a hard hit when there was a mass exodus from the firm when Effron and Moelis leaving and taking their people with them. Then they got creamed by the crisis. But they've made changes and are on the rise again.

I think perception of UBS was definitely very different a couple of years ago. Like look at the respect given to Moelis and Centerview and those two forms both have large ex UBS populations because of their founders.

May 8, 2016

Off topic but I have always thought the UBS color scheme was the best looking out of all the BBs

May 9, 2016
May 9, 2016

UBS was a major player going into 2007, but leading up to 2007/08 they got heavy into subprime (like a lot of others, but they were late to the game)....UBS loaded up on these positions....billions and billions.

In late 2007/early 2008, the losses from subprime forced to bank to sell assets in other divisions to plug the holes from subprime that they could not exit. This caused HUGE aftershocks, which essentially decimated the bank. Exact same thing happened to RBS.

If you know anything about the treasury market, you might recall that in 2008, high coupon off the run paper that was rolling down the curve (a very profitable trade in a stable market) got annihilated. It turns out, that back in 2004/2005, UBS got into that trade very large....they bought billions and billions of high coupon off the run US treasurys, hedged them on the curve, and collected the rolldown. You only make a few bps a year, but it was stable, so they got into that trade VERY LARGE to maximize the profits.

So, in late 2007/08 when subprime blew up in their face, UBS had to LIQUIDATE their leveraged US Treasury books. This caused bonds that were trading 5-8bps on spread to the curve to blow out to over 100bps. This DESTROYED a lot of people. It was UNECONOMIC selling. Selling bonds not because they thought they were rich (in fact, they were cheap)...but they needed to sell to raise margin $$ to save the bank from imploding from subprime.

About a year later, late 2009/early 2010, all the high coupon US treasury paper came all the way back. I know more than a few bond traders who made their career in 2009, just buying and holding on to that paper that UBS blew out.

Same scenario played out in other markets as well...i just happen to have direct knowledge of the US treasury market.

Exiting these positions was a money loser, because there was nobody to take the other side if the trade (at the time, all banks were pulling back on balance sheet...this was pre-bailout)...hence why spreads blew out.

Now, while it was a "bad decision" to blow out of these good position, the other alternative was bankruptcy...so their hand was forced. Both UBS and RBS are still suffering from these losses years later. It takes time (years) to bounce back from these situations.

Prominent investment bankers left for a couple reasons:
1) the bank did not have balance sheet to allocate to customers (which is part of the "full service" model that UBS was trying to do)...this decreased the value of UBS (and RBS) as a brand, as well as direct economic value.
2) in the chaos, there was opportunity for bankers like Moelis and others to start their own boutique firms and collect $$$.

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May 13, 2016

very interesting. appreciated the read.

May 13, 2016

I'm just gonna chime in on the PWM/Non-Risk IB functions. Swiss banks generally are more risk averse. They are also far more well known for being PWM/PB oriented, than they are IBD oriented. If you look at the list of Swiss Banks, you are talking about companies like Julius Baer, ABS, Bonhote, BCGE, Landolt, Reichmuth, Hottinger, Pictet, and Bodier, they are all known for being wealth managers and not investment banks. For them, it's about introductions and who you know. It's generally part of their cultural fabric when it comes to finance.

The thing is, and this is something that most of WSO fails to realize, is that Non-US banking relies heavily on PWM as a facilitator of IB related functions. Relationship management is a big deal abroad because people like the personalized service and personal service afforded to them. Outside the US, traditionally, it's the relationship manager that makes introductions to bankers and works to make sure the client is happy. It's a far more hands on role, versus in the US where PWM/PB generally acts as a financial advisor. The thing is, PWM is a fairly low risk, high reward business for banks as it creates a fairly steady income stream. UBS, like most large PWM/PB operations, have that business line because it helps keep the bank's operations running smoothly while other riskier areas are able to work without entirely hinging the company's ability to survive on high risk high reward prospects.

May 13, 2016

When the economy and job market is slowing down, which it is, the "best" bank is the one that signs your paycheck.

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May 13, 2016
May 13, 2016

Some of the posts above are very accurate, but at the end of the day, UBS has a history of cutting analysts right before bonuses are paid out. Time and time again we have seen UBS (as well as other banks) do this, and that is why these banks have a terrible reputation.

May 13, 2016

In one word - "PWM"

May 13, 2016

Might be worth noting that UBS just paid some of, if not the, highest bonuses to the street out of all the BBs. Can only speak from the Analyst perspectice - I know three guys there in two separate groups and they both got paid 90% of Base

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  May 25, 2016

hohoho 90% how the mighty have fallen, and UBS was always in the bottom quartile of payers

May 15, 2016

Here's an interesting read; especially for younger WSO users as this was probably before your time. It's a mergers and inquisitions articles on the UBS IBD in Los Angeles and how they were once regarded as one of the best groups, what happened with Moelis leaving, and where they are today. Obviously, this is just IBD in one city so you can't draw too many inferences from it, but nonetheless it gives some insight into UBS's reputation and what factors into how it is perceived.

May 15, 2016

Interesting article. WSO>M&I though! :)

May 16, 2016

M&I did forget one big point... Many of those famed UBS LA rainmakers got their start at Drexel Burnham Lambert or at DLJ LA. Sometimes it's worth it to look into a rainmaker's past, and not just one stop on the list. You'd be surprised at how talent develops and who influences it. Milken was a notorious workaholic and it influenced his disciples who went on to work at DLJ, oddly enough in their LA office. Speaking of which, if you want to talk about having a history of rainmakers, look at the pedigree coming out of DLJ LA.

May 16, 2016
Frieds:

M&I did forget one big point... Many of those famed UBS LA rainmakers got their start at Drexel Burnham Lambert or at DLJ LA. Sometimes it's worth it to look into a rainmaker's past, and not just one stop on the list. You'd be surprised at how talent develops and who influences it. Milken was a notorious workaholic and it influenced his disciples who went on to work at DLJ, oddly enough in their LA office. Speaking of which, if you want to talk about having a history of rainmakers, look at the pedigree coming out of DLJ LA.

Where would one go to find more background regarding the DLJ LA alumni? Or even just a list of names...

May 17, 2016

That famous X-shaped desk ...

May 15, 2016

LionTree and Raine as well in TMT

May 17, 2016

Everyone I've met at UBS has been friendly and the environment there isn't toxic. I guess that's weakness, and weakness is bad.

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May 20, 2016

Why the monkey shit? I love UBS. Come on. That was sarcasm.

May 21, 2016

Any bank that has Andrea Orcel in charge needs to be taken seriously, very seriously...

Mar 1, 2018

Low revenue and deal count, net outflow of senior bankers.

That's literally it.

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Mar 2, 2018

Interesting to read some of the UBS (and Macquarie) bashing on this site.

My disclaimer is that I'm not employed by either of them - but down under here in Australia, UBS and Macquarie Capital are regarded as 'top dogs' much to WSO's potential surprise. The whole "GS TMT / MS M&A or bust" attitude really isn't prevalent here. Speaking of GS and MS, GS recently lost a bunch of Markets people (a number of them left to go JPM) and MS runs a very lean (and generalist) team here.

Mar 2, 2018

The bashing of UBS and Macquarie occurs because most people are referring to the US market. I don't know too much about the IB landscape in Australia, but I've heard that Macquarie is like the GS of Australia. However, the company has a much smaller presence in America hence the bashing that it gets on this site.

Mar 2, 2018

Would definitely say that going forward Deutshe Bank is the new butt of all banker jokes, especially given they got shafted on the bonuses this past year and are the closest to becoming the next Lehman

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Mar 2, 2018
Apr 10, 2018

I used work for UBS LA so I can give you some color.

The good senior guys either left or were let go due to lack of support from NYC, so dealflow just natrually stopped without all the rain makers. Mostly importantly, the whole UBS transitioning ino PWM focused bank did not help the remaining MDs win mandates. I was given VP offer but I leveraged to another BB; and I am honestly fucking glad(last one out if the burning house).

Would try to lateral to more prominent shops on the westcoast: GS(LA/SF), MS(LA),HL(LA),Moelis(LA/SF), BAML(SF), PWP(LA), Barclays(LA/SF).

Apr 10, 2018

I aspire to be great one day, just like fubs is. If I can achieve this, I will have made it in life.

Apr 10, 2018

if you're going to troll, please do a better job of it

BossMode

Apr 10, 2018
sick_willy:

if you're going to troll, please do a better job of it

agreed

Apr 10, 2018

owned by a rejection and now bitter? please drown yourself in tears, Chimp.

Apr 10, 2018
fubs:

Seriously does anyone take this bank seriously? bunch of rutgers kids. they are not even top 15 anymore and they are based in stamford lol!!!! vault comments says this is the worst bank to work for and its also middle market. why would anyone work for this bank? i heard they are even leaving america and firing everyone within a few years. good luck if u are working for this craphole because ur exit op is cashier at walmart?

can anyone tell me why this bank sucks so much? i think maybe its because they give interviews to a lot of state school kids.

They might suck in the US but in Asia they are on top 5 of the league.

Apr 10, 2018

fubs, you are mentally twisted.

Apr 10, 2018

poor boy

"What we can, we must; and because we can, we must"

Apr 10, 2018

didn't get the job?

Apr 10, 2018

How am i trolling? ubs is beaten out by almost every other bank and dealflow is horrible. plus you have to work everyday knowing u will probably be unemployed later and that ur bonus is probably 20k. i didn't even apply but i know 2 kids who are total idiots with 3.3's from my school who got offers. that's very regretable to see such failure in both talent and business. i would rather be at william blair or piper jaffray or jefferies.

Apr 10, 2018
fubs:

plus you have to work everyday knowing u will probably be unemployed later and that ur bonus is probably 20k. i didn't even apply but i know 2 kids who are total idiots with 3.3's from my school who got offers.

Do you even have a job man? Just by the way you write I can readily say that you are retarded...

Apr 10, 2018

nah i think ubs will be fine, esp good for analysts as they will learn more as ubs gets out of its mess

Apr 10, 2018

always enjoyable to read a good troll post

Apr 10, 2018

o look its the other troll. UBS is a good bank, why don't you try to get an offer first before talking?

Apr 10, 2018

lol, what's this about rutgers kids? anything I should be informed about?

=========================================
We are excited to formally extend to you an offer to join Bank of Ameria

Apr 10, 2018

At least PJC's troll posts are usually funny. You need to pm him and see if he will take you under his wing or something.

Apr 10, 2018
AverageGuy:

At least PJC's troll posts are usually funny. You need to pm him and see if he will take you under his wing or something.

Nah, he should talk to a real pro like blumie. well, if he still posted that is

Apr 10, 2018

dont troll here, it's just meaningless

Apr 10, 2018

I wasn't aware that it's actually possible to have negative banana points. Thanks for your effort in testing this empirically, fubs.

Apr 10, 2018

UBS does get some good deals, and as an analyst you'll still get a good experience depending on what group you go into. Obviously they've taken a huge hit and if you can go to Goldman instead you would, but certainly not a bad job to have on your resume.

Apr 10, 2018

i'm not trolling and from what i've seen, most people are now better off going to a solid MM than this bank which barely gets deals anymore except from crap companies.

Apr 10, 2018
fubs:

i'm not trolling and from what i've seen, most people are now better off going to a solid MM than this bank which barely gets deals anymore except from crap companies.

And what have you seen? Please, enlighten us. Does Comcast come to mind? http://www.comcast.com/About/PressRelease/PressRel...
Shut up. Go back to school and try to get a SA, if you can.

Apr 10, 2018

http://media.

UBS is #6 in global M&A revenue and #8 in overall revenue for 2009. Sure the bank overall has infrastructure problems, mainly from the Wealth Management and Fixed Income departments. But for an IBD Analyst, there is still plenty of deal flow and the experience is solid if you're in a good group. Seriously get your head out of your ass. You'd be lucky to get an offer at any BB.

Apr 10, 2018

sry u work at ubs bro u mad?

Apr 10, 2018

LOL BANKER 88 WORKS AT UBS, outed

Apr 10, 2018

Their investment banking division is based in New York- right off Park Ave. It's unfortunate Jefferies stole their entire HC group.

Apr 10, 2018

UBS - great bank, great people, and the analysts who have now survived and going to learn some serious shit as they turn things around.

The OP clearly didn't get an interview/ or got canned.

There there, I'm sure you'll move on.

But I don't give a shit if you don't.

Tool.

Apr 10, 2018

ridiculous post that could be better

Apr 10, 2018

hes talking about the united bank of swaziland...

all the deal flow went to Lesotho,

yeah UBS sucks...how fucking stupid do you get..even if your work in a boutique, youve partly made it. in the eschelons of societe... how could you be so dumb as to say something like that..of course ppl want to work there. jesus hates trolls

dude i saw you other posts...what happened to you and UBS? whats the story..really, dont just pretend your an impartial observer to ubs`s failures...something happened...tell us..we dont bite

Apr 10, 2018

...

Apr 10, 2018

u jimbo are a troll with a ubs chip on your shoulder; please take your agenda elsewhere.

Apr 10, 2018

people move all the time

Apr 10, 2018
derivstrading:

people move all the time

true, but UBS has been hit big time since 2008-9.

Apr 10, 2018

why is UBS so abused in the US?? i hear they do great in EMEA. are they still a BB?

GS, BX. Will work for prestige.

Apr 10, 2018

Hahaha, the Swiss think "Bankers get paid too much, screw capitalism, let's cut their bonuses." Yeah, who cares if they lose all their best bankers to US firms.

Apr 10, 2018

well the morons on this site should look at league tables to realize that UBS is 6'th globally for completed M&A.

Apr 10, 2018

my source says 9th.

Apr 10, 2018
megafundguy:

my source says 9th.

there are 9 recognized bb (gs ms jpm db ubs cs barcap citi baml) and some "elite boutiques" (laz ghl evr etc)...

Apr 10, 2018

it's definitely a good BB bank. not a bad place at all for an analyst to start.

Apr 10, 2018

Zephyr M&A League Tables (2011 YTD) - As of 5 minutes ago
********Values are in th of EUROS******

Advisor No of deals Total deal value Average deal value
1 Morgan Stanley 116 244,829,958 2,266,944
2 <abbr title="JP Morgan">JP</abbr> Morgan 109 231,016,367 2,333,499
3 <abbr title="Bank of America Merrill Lynch">BAML</abbr> 100 140,895,393 1,583,094
4 Goldman Sachs 90 178,739,745 2,179,753
5 UBS 77 111,733,581 1,619,327
6 Rothschild 74 49,359,150 822,653
7 Deutsche Bank 67 109,545,490 1,956,169
8 Credit Suisse 64 103,649,267 1,884,532
9 Citigroup Inc. 62 99,971,228 1,753,881
10 Deloitte 45 9,048,428 301,614

TOTAL * 804 1,278,788,608 1,813,885

I f***ed up and sorted by deal volume, but you get the point. You could be doing a worse job than UBS at the moment.

Apr 10, 2018

i know, but its 9th in global, evercore is above it.

Apr 10, 2018
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