Morning Coffee: UBS is deeply confused about its investment bank. 'Rich and thick' applicants prove problematic

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In theory, UBS's investment bank has one thing in its favour: certainty. While RBS and Barclays swim in the waters of strategic confusion, UBS laid out its strategy in October 2012 and is supposed to be straightforwardly pulling out of fixed income sales and trading and making 10,000 people redundant. Or is it?

In an article today, the Wall Street Journal says UBS's strategic clarity isn't what it seems. The Swiss bank has been covertly hiring for FICC, says the WSJ. It's been meeting up with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp about forming a strategic partnership in Japan (and possibly more widely). And at their annual summer retreat/meeting in New York, UBS executives discussed winding down or selling the investment bank for the third year in a row (this has been promptly denied by UBS). Nonetheless, it seems that the future for UBS investment bankers may not be so certain after all.

Separately, Mike Nicholson, the director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Oxford, says the university is trying hard to exclude rich and thick applicants who come from wealthy backgrounds and have been polished to perform well in interviews but aren't really very bright. Oxford's applicant problem is less extreme than that faced by banks. Balliol College received 200 applications for 15 places on its Philosophy Politics and Economics course this year, while small German bank Berenberg received 420 applications per job for its graduate scheme in 2013.

Nicholson said Oxford filters rich and thick students by insisting that two academics attend each interview and making sure the discussion focuses on academic issues rather than social banter.


Andrea Orcel says UBS’s lack of a fixed income business could sometimes affect its performance. (CNBC)

Barclays is cutting 1,700 retail banking jobs. Overall, Antony Jenkins wants to reduce Barclays headcount from 140,000 to 100,000. (Financial Times) 

Now is the time to receive your bonus in Bank of America stock. (Forbes) 

Moody’s has cut the credit ratings on Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley.  Goldman’s gone to Baa1 from A3; JPMorgan’s gone to A3 from A2; and Morgan Stanley’s gone to Baa2 from Baa1. (Barrons)  

Standard Chartered will cutting 12% of the headcount in its private equity unit, with most of the cuts coming in Asia. (Bloomberg) 

JPMorgan is closing its Geneva-based trading operation and making 12 people redundant. (Reuters) 

Natixis will be hiring outside France. (eFinancialCareers) 

Coalition says securitization revenues will fall 36% this year. (WSJ)

Two Vietnamese bankers face the death penalty for fraud. (Bloomberg)

Maths pick up lines. (Topological Girls) 



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