Effect of rogue trading scandal on wealth management still not clear

THE IMPACT of the rogue trading scandal on UBS’s investment bank was laid bare in its third quarter results. The unit fell to a loss of SwFr2.4bn once you strip out the gains it made on the declining value of its own credit, in large part due to the SwFr1.8bn lost through unauthorised trades.

The investment bank’s fixed-income division also performed poorly, with quarter-on-quarter revenues down by 41 per cent, considerably worse than the kind of declines seen by US rivals in recent weeks. All this will give additional ammunition to those investors who say the bank should radically scale back investment banking and focus on wealth management instead.

Still, its Swiss and international wealth management is no panacea. Although net inflows have been positive for five quarters, they have been declining steadily since the first quarter of this year. Worse still, the rogue trading scandal broke in the final fortnight of UBS’s third quarter, meaning jittery clients haven’t had a lot of time to react.

So investors will have to wait until next quarter to find out if the bank’s wealthy clients still believe in the confidence, security and discretion symbolised by its three-keys logo.
david.crow@cityam.com