The head of the large bank will be the new business president of UBS Switzerland. The staff was surprised at first glance. What do bankers say about changing jobs?
When the reins of a company are taken over by a new CEO, there are often changes in staffing at the management level. Against this background, it is not surprising that the large bank UBS, whose new CEO Ralph Hamers took over on November 1, announced two changes at the top management level on Friday. From February 2021, Sabine Kellere-Busse, today the Chief Executive Officer (COO) of the large bank, will be responsible for domestic business. Former UBS Swiss boss Axel Lehman is leaving the bank after a transitional period on July 31, 2021, it is said. The reasons for the change are not given, it is only said that Leman himself decided to take this step.
However, questions remain. Apparently the step had to be fast. Ikbal Khan, co-chair of global wealth management, takes on the role of Keller-Bush as president of the Europe, Middle East and Africa (Emea) region. The bank has not yet occupied the most important place, her successor as COO.
Transport or promotion?
As Swiss leader, Lehman did a decent job, but did not break any big rope like his predecessor, Martin Blessing. The bank’s management may want to start here, especially since the Korona crisis has recently hit UBS’s lending business hard. An internal e-mail to the workforce states that Lehman has announced that, in view of the planned long-term reorganization, he wanted to take over the Swiss business at a new age at the age of 61.
It is also not immediately apparent why Keller-Bucks will give up the actual number of the big bank in second place. In this position in the UBS engine room, she is responsible for a good 25,000 employees. It will now be “solely” responsible for 20,600 employees. Did the new CEO Hamers want to send them elegantly? In the last few years, Kellers-Busse has been traded several times as a possible successor to Serhio Ermoti.
The bank does not want to comment on speculation. However, the surveyed bankers deny that this would be a transport issue. Even if the big bank likes to present itself as an international financial house: Swiss business is one of the pillars of UBS. The new Keller-Busse job is a great opportunity to learn the front line experience in one of the most important areas of banking for the first time. This is a promotion issue, according to bankers, Kellers-Busse was convinced of the performance.
In fact, the 55-year-old woman was also able to score from the outside as the main crisis manager. In this way, UBS copes well with home offices and other digital challenges for customers and employees in the new world of Corona. This is also because Kellers-Busse had updated its information technology in previous years.
“Far from business”
Critical voices say Keller-Bucks has been “very far from bankers and business.” In fact, there are many bankers at the corporate management level and at one or two levels of management, as the new head of Bank Hamers would like: international, diverse and digitally skilled. However, the bankers ahead often have different backgrounds and have to compete on a daily basis for corporate and private clients in the highly competitive Swiss market. What can a woman with little experience on the front and also of foreign origin give here?
The head of the Swiss UBS is crucial for new growth areas and cost efficiency. The bank has to defend its current position in the market every day. In order to maintain and expand this position, UBS needs to become significantly more digital in all areas, say respondents. Kellerei-Bussei has extensive experience in this field.
Of course, it would be an advantage if the department was managed by a specialist with great attention to the client. But today, even the head of a Swiss retail bank is primarily responsible for managing internal projects and processes and addressing regulatory and compliance issues. Here, too, Keller-Busem has the best possible conditions.
Kellere-Busse is extremely competent, refreshingly normal and, above all, she makes decisions, you always know that you are with her first, judge those who know her. The banker who worked with him, on the other hand, found that he was strongly influenced by McKinchian culture and, above all, by “showing options on slides.” However, he says she is good with people. She can also count on “great people” in her new area.
The dual German and Swiss citizen has also had ties with Switzerland for a long time. After an internship as an industrial clerk at Siemens in Munich, she studied business management at HSG in St. Gallen, graduating with a dissertation. While studying at university, after her father’s (early) death, she took over her father’s electronics retailer and thus the responsibility for 30 employees. In 1995, she joined McKinsey as a management consultant and since 2002 has been a partner focusing on the financial sector. Two years later, as head of retail business for Credit Suisse in the Zurich region, she moved to UBS in 2010. The married mother of two daughters became a human resources manager in 2014, a member of the Executive Committee in 2016, and in 2018 she became a COO.