ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss bank UBS (Reuters)UBSG.S.) may ask US regulators to extend their license to sell more complex products and sophisticated investment advice to wealthy Americans living in Switzerland to promote growth for US taxpayers abroad. In an interview published on Sunday, CEO Sergio Ermotti told Swiss SonntagsZeitung that UBS is currently unable to sell some products and investments to US taxpayers in Switzerland.
The CEO of UBS Sergio Ermotti during a press preview of US photographer Annie Leibovitz's "WOMEN: New Portraits" exhibition at Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, London, UK January 13, 2016. REUTERS / Stefan Wermuth
Ermotti has not specified which products, but a bank source told Reuters that they offered investment and advice from its Swiss-based Swiss Financial Advisers Unit (SFA), which already offers US taxpayers in the country above a certain wealth threshold.
According to the source, UBS is reviewing the options and is likely to contact the Securities and Exchange Commission to obtain regulatory approval for some currently unauthorized products.
The source did not name certain products being tested.
Extending the UBS license could be more challenging for US competition, while the largest Swiss bank is looking to do more business with wealthy US citizens overseas to accelerate its wealth management business, where transaction volumes are modest.
"Most billionaires are Americans," Ermotti said in a newspaper interview. "We do not want to leave this business to the US banks."
In 2009, UBS paid $ 780 million to settle a dispute over wealthy Americans who had hidden undeclared money in Swiss accounts.
The source said the limits on the products that UBS could offer to wealthy US taxpayers in Switzerland are not a consequence of this dispute. Your current license with the SEC just does not cover them.
Mr Ermotti told the newspaper that US banks had "skilfully" worked with the politicians in that country to take advantage of the tax dispute to further their commercial interests.
Nevertheless, the Swiss banker said that UBS, which maintains a strong presence in the US even after its agreement, is strong enough to overcome any disadvantage.
"We have something special to offer," he told the SonntagsZeitung. "As David against Goliath we can do well."
Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle